Performing the deadlift correctly is one of the more technically difficult movements to learn. You are using a lot of muscles in one fluid motion while also moving a ton of weight so you want to make sure everything is dialed in properly. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve injured my low back several times, by not following the advice below. Usually, I ended up pinching a disc, because I got too cocky with the weight while also trying to rush through the steps vs taking my time and making sure I was maintaining a neutral spine position.
Below are my tips on how to properly perform a deadlift. If you are a more visual learner, check out Ben Pollack’s video on how to properly deadlift.
1. Walk up to the bar, and get close enough to where the barbell is hovering over halfway through your foot (looking from above). It should be pretty close to your shins.
2. Your feet should be about shoulder width
3. Have your hands just outside your hips, and as you slide down to pick up the bar push back your hips as if you are reaching for a chair with your butt. Do not just curl over to grab the bar leaving your back curled.
4. Now that you are grabbing the bar, take the slack out of your body by pretending to break the bar over your shins by using your hands to pull the bar against your shin. Right now you are creating a ton of tension in the hamstrings and core by doing this.
5. Flatten your low back as much as you can by trying to lift your chest upright and pulling your shoulder blades down and back.
6. Now that you’ve created proper tension and a good posture, imagine driving your feet through the floor, and try to stand upright keeping the bar as close to your body throughout the entire range. Make sure you are constantly trying to keep your upper body upright, and shoulder blades down and back. Your hips should be moving forward like you're trying to scoot a table forward with your hips.
7. At the top of the movement you should be sitting nice and tall and squeezing your back and core to hold the bar in place. If you are leaning back you aren’t bracing your core enough. Your hips should be pressing into the bar squeezing your glutes forward.
8. When bringing the weight back down, keep all the cues of shoulder blades pulled back, and core tight as you lower the weight. Keep the bar close as you carefully come back down to rest the weight on the floor.
Things to Keep in Mind
You really want to make sure you are engaging the lats by trying to “bend” the bar over your shins in the beginning. This is crucial for keeping everything tight as to prevent injury and transfer the power. If you don’t engage your lats you will have a tendency to round your low back, and lose the neutral spine position. This is why most people get injuries in their lower back once they start to pull. You are pinching your discs too much.
Don’t over exaggerate sticking your butt out. Again, keep in mind that neutral stacked position. Chin tucked in, brace your core like someone is punching you, and squeeze your butt in. That’s the position you always want to be striving for.