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Everything You Need To Know About Improving Your Deadlift

November 28, 2016

 (Writer’s note: This is the fourth in a series of articles that will cover the bench press, overhead press, squat, and deadlift. To become a beast in the gym, one must perform these movements like a beast)

“I pick things up and put them down.”

And with a single sentence used to advertise a sub-par gym Planet Fitness has succinctly described the exercise known as the deadlift.

It’s so basic that it’s actually quite perfect – load a barbell up with an absurd amount of weight, lift it up off of the floor, put it back down, bask in the glory weightroom dominance.

The deadlift is one of those primal movements that can really put you in touch with your inner beast, or as a former football/Jersey Shore bar hopping teammate of mine once said…

“I don’t know why they call it the deadlift, I’ve never felt so alive.”

In all seriousness, the deadlift really is an amazing exercise. It will add slabs of muscle to your chest, shoulders, back, arms, glutes, and hamstrings, shred body fat, build a core like a brick wall, improve posture, prevent injuries, and give a big boost to athletic performance. Oh yeah, and if your girl has been chasing a butt like Beyonce’s you can tell her to put the Buns of Steel DVD away and pick up some iron – there are few moves out there that will boost a lagging backside like good old deadlifts.

You may hear the occasional gym rat or phys ed teacher tell you that deadlifting is bad for your back, knees, whatever. Rubbish! You know what’s bad for your back and knees? Sitting down for 8 hours a day and avoiding exercise. Performed correctly, the deadlift can actually undo a lot of the damage created by desk jobs and the sedentary lifestyle led by so many.

Here’s how to do it the right way:

Approach the bar and set your feet. I like to go about shoulder width, with my toes pointed out slightly. At this point the bar should be hovering just over the midpoint of your foot.

Grab the bar just outside of your legs, I use what’s known as a mixed or alternate grip – one hand overhand one hand underhand – but if you prefer an overhand grip then have it.

With a tight grip on the bar bend at the waist and knees by breaking at the hips and pushing your butt back.

Open up your chest by pulling your scapula back and down.

Take a deep breath.

Pick that bad boy up, and feel like a beast.

It really is that simple. The biggest risk for injury comes from excessive rounding of the lower back. This typically occurs when someone tries to pull too much weight with bad technique.

Of course you aren’t limited to traditional deadlifts. Here are some cool variations you can try when your routine gets stale.

Snatch Grip Deadlift

Sumo Deadlift

Deadlift From Deficit

Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlift

If you’re interested in adding deadlifting to your routine, there are stacks of articles available online. Here are two of my favorites.

Matt Kroc’s Simple Deadlift Program

A Beginner’s Guide To The Deadlift