The deadlift is a barbell, compound movement that works basically every single muscle in the body. It makes them an efficient strength training exercise that is also functional, meaning that it translates into every day life movements, making it beneficial for both in and out of the gym.
What is the deadlift?
The deadlift is a hinge movement. It targets the hamstring as well as the glutes, back, core and arms. There are multiple variations but in this article, we’ll be focusing on the conventional deadlift.
For the conventional deadlift, you’ll need:
- A barbell
- Round plates
In terms of footwear, wearing flat shoes with a grippy sole are best. While there are specific deadlift shoes available, you don’t need them. Just wear chucks, Vans or even go barefoot or in socks.
There are three different grip types: overhand, mixed grip and hook grip. There is not right or wrong grip as people prefer different ones.
The overhand grip is when you hold the bar, with both palms towards your body.
People tend to switch to a mixed grip when the weight starts getting heavy, This is when you have one hand in the overhand position (palms facing your body) and one in an underhand grip (palms facing away from you). This helps you hold onto the bar and it prevents the bar from rolling out of your hands.
The hook grip also offers a more secure grip than the overhand and for some, the mixed. However, learning it can take some practice as it can be painful on the hands and thumb. To hook grip, you place your hand in an overhand position with your palms towards you. However, you tuck your thumb underneath your four fingers as it wraps around the bar as opposed to on top.
How to perform the conventional deadlift
Now, it’s time to start deadlifting. Setting up to perform the deadlift is an integral part. It sets you up to perform the movement with the right form and mentality.
- With the barbell in front of you, situate your feet under the bar in line with your shoe laces. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Root your feet firmly into the ground, getting a good grip.
- Hinge at the hips, pushing them back and leaning your torso forward.
- Grab the barbell in your preferred grip. If you’re new to deadlifting, opt for the overhand to begin with. Make sure that your hands are shoulder-width apart.
- Sit your hips back and pull up on the bar slightly, engaging your lats.
- Keep your spine neutral and brace your core.
- Inhale and lift the barbell off the ground, keeping your back straight. Think about pushing your legs down into the ground.
- Keep pulling the bar until your legs are straight and you’re standing upright, thrusting your hips forward. Squeeze your glutes.
- Then, return the bar to the starting position.
Common conventional deadlift mistakes
There are common mistakes that people make when deadlifting. Here are some of them to avoid:
Letting the bar stray too far from the body
The bar should be kept close to your body, from the start and to the end. To prevent this, when you’re in the starting position, touch your shins to the bar. Then, when you lift the barbell up, ensure that it’s in constant contact with your body. This is why people tend to wear long socks or deadlift shin guards when performing this movement.
Rounding the back
Allowing your back to round while deadlifting is an injury waiting to happen. Your spine needs to remain in the neutral position so that there is a straight line from your head to lower back. To do this, ensure that you’re bracing properly. When you take a deep breath in, do so into your stomach, not your chest. To practice, wrap your hands around your stomach and breathe in. You should feel your stomach start to rise and not your chest.
A rounded back can also be caused by letting the bar fall away from your body. So, by keeping the bar close to you the entire time, it can assist in maintaining a straight back.
The deadlift is a full-body strength movement that can translate to every day life. However, when performed incorrectly, it can cause injuries. Ensure that you lift with proper technique and stick to lighter weights until you can do so confidently.