How to Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the most popular compound lifting exercises, and there's a reason for its popularity. This article will focus on how to perform a deadlift with proper form and explore the benefits of this exercise. Gain a better understanding of the exercise and learn what to watch out for to avoid form errors.


  1. Quick Deadlift Performance Introduction
  2. Detailed Deadlift Step by Step Guide
  3. Muscles Worked
  4. Safety Concerns
  5. Conclusion
  6. Additional Informations

How to Deadlift with Proper Form a general introduction

Before diving into the technical details, let's grasp the fundamentals of the Deadlift. The term "dead" in Deadlift refers to lifting a motionless weight, indicating that the weight starts on the floor for each repetition. Deadlifts are distinctive because they initiate from ground level, involving the direct lifting of the weight. Now, let's discover how to execute the Deadlift with proper form in five simple steps:

Deadlift Step by Step

1. Approach the Bar

Position yourself with your mid-foot under the bar. Keep your heels hip-width apart, toes slightly pointed outward.

2. Grip the bar

Bend at your hips, reach down, and grasp the barbell with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Ensure your arms remain vertical when viewed from the front.

3. Bend your Knees

Descend into position by bending your knees until your shins make contact with the bar. Maintain the bar over your mid-foot.

4. Raise Your Chest

Straighten your back by lifting your chest while retaining your position over the bar.

5. Execute the Lift

Inhale deeply, hold your breath, and elevate the weight. Keep the bar in contact with your legs as you lift it. Avoid shrugging or leaning backward at the pinnacle. Lock your hips and knees in the finishing position.

Proper Deadlift Form: Key Cues

To ensure that you are executing the deadlift correctly, here are some essential cues to consider. We also recommend seeking guidance from a gym trainer to assess your form or recording yourself during the exercise. It's important to avoid looking into a mirror to monitor your form as this can strain your neck. Now, let's focus on the key aspects you should keep in mind:

How to Prepare for the Lift:

  • Bar Path: The bar should follow a vertical line over your mid-foot when viewed from the side.
  • Barbell: Ensure the barbell starts on the floor and is positioned over your mid-foot at the beginning of each repetition.
  • Stance: Maintain a stance with your heels hip-width apart, which is narrower than your squat stance.
  • Grip Width: Use a narrow grip with your hands approximately shoulder-width apart. Remember to wrap your thumbs around the bar and keep it close to your fingers, with both palms facing you.

What Each of Your Body Parts Should Be Doing During the Exercise:

  • Arms: When viewed from the front, your arms should be vertical and slightly inclined from the side. Keep your elbows locked before and during the pull; avoid bending them.
  • Chest: Maintain an upright chest position to prevent rounding your back, but avoid squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Lower Back: Keep a neutral lower back position without excessive arching or rounding.
  • Shoulders: Your shoulders should be in front of the bar when viewed from the side; keep your shoulders and traps relaxed.
  • Hips: Your setup should resemble a half squat, with your hips positioned higher than parallel. Avoid squatting the weight up.
  • Traps: Keep your traps relaxed and avoid shrugging or rolling your shoulders at the top.
  • Knees: Push your knees to the sides during the lift and lock them at the top.
  • Shins: Ensure your shins make contact with the bar during setup to maintain proper bar placement.

Other Aspects to Consider During the Exercise:

  • Breathing: Take a deep breath at the bottom, hold it during the lift, and exhale at the bottom before repeating.
  • Lifting the Bar: Pull the bar slowly while dragging it over your legs, avoiding jerky movements.
  • Lowering the Bar: Lower the bar by moving your hips back first, then bending your legs as the bar clears your knees.
  • Between Reps: Avoid bouncing the weight; take a moment to rest, lift your chest, breathe, and then pull again.
  • Lockout: Fully lock your hips and knees at the top without leaning back.

Muscles Worked

Now that we've discussed how to perform a deadlift, let's explore the reasons for incorporating it into your fitness routine. Deadlifts stand out as one of the most effective compound exercises, engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously, especially when lifting heavy weights. Here's a breakdown of the muscle groups involved in the deadlift:

  • Legs: This exercise targets the hamstrings, glutes, quads, and calves.
  • Back: It engages the upper, lower, and middle back muscles.
  • Traps: The trapezius muscles in the upper back also come into play.
  • Core: Your abdominal muscles and obliques work to stabilize during the lift.
  • Arms: The deadlift enhances grip strength and engages the forearms, biceps, and triceps.

Due to the wide array of muscles involved, the deadlift is a valuable addition to your current training regimen, enhancing core and grip strength, which can, in turn, improve your performance in various other exercises.

Safety Concerns

You've likely come across phrases such as "avoid lifting heavy; it's harmful to your back" or "deadlifts can injure your spine." However, the opposite is true when you maintain proper form during Deadlifts. With correct form, you can minimize the risk of injuries and make this exercise a valuable addition to your workout routine.

Nevertheless, it's essential to be mindful that poor form can transform this excellent exercise into a detrimental one. That's why it's crucial to be vigilant and avoid the following common mistakes:

To avoid rounding your lower back, which can result in back injuries, always begin with a neutral spine and maintain it throughout the lift. Utilize a proper setup and technique to minimize the risk of injury, and refrain from bouncing the weight off the floor; each repetition should initiate from a dead stop. It's crucial to note the importance of commencing with lighter weights, concentrating on proper form, and progressively increasing the weight as you become more comfortable and confident with your Deadlift technique.


After reading this article, you should now have a solid foundation of knowledge on how to perform the deadlift.

With a focus on the importance of proper form and following step-by-step checkpoints and key cues for precise execution, it's time for you to integrate this excellent exercise into your upcoming training sessions.

By doing so, you can directly benefit from the deadlift's features, such as engaging multiple muscle groups. By adhering to the principles outlined here, you can safely and effectively incorporate the deadlift into your fitness routines, reaping numerous rewards for strength and muscle development.

Further Performance Improvement

The source for our article was from Medith a Belgium who has been training for more than two decades, thus possessing valuable insights on optimizing your deadlift performance. His page has been visited more than 150 million times and, in addition to the deadlift, provides a wealth of useful information on other compound exercises.

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