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What’s so tough about lifting a bar off the floor?
When you look at a deadlift, it seems incredibly straightforward – walk up to a barbell, bend down and grab it with both hands, then pull it up until you’re standing upright.
Described like that, it really doesn’t seem like there’s too much to the deadlift. If that’s the case, then why are so many people terrible deadlifters?
If there’s one exercise more seasoned gym goers injure themselves on more than any other, it’s the deadlift. And the one area they always seem to aggravate – the lower back. Thing is, even if you can pull a heavy bar off the floor, if your technique isn’t one hundred percent, you’re placing yourself at a huge risk ok injury on every single rep.
Then there’s the issue of strength itself. Some guys and girls can just muscle the bar off the floor, even with shoddy technique, yet others struggle as soon as there’s even the lightest weight on the bar.
Key Technique Tips for the Deadlift
1. Walk up to the bar with purpose. The deadlift is not a lift to be taken lightly, and you need some aggression; not too much though – you must be calm enough to remember all your cues, but angry enough that there’s no way that bar’s going back down before you’ve locked it out.
2. Stand so the bar is dissecting the middle of your feet. If you’re wearing lace up shoes, the bar should be right over your bow, or the tongue of your shoes.
3. Bend down and grab the bar. Don’t worry too much about your position just yet, focus solely on holding the bar as tightly as you can. Your hands should be roughly shoulder width apart.
4. Bend your knees a little until your shins are lightly touching the bar From this point on, the bar should be in contact with your body (first the shins, and later the thighs) at all times. If it drifts out in front, not only will you probably miss the lift, but you’ll round your lower back, and ping – that’s a disc herniation.
5. Drop your butt down. This is key in nailing the initial pull. You want your hips low enough that your back is flat, but not so low that your position resembles the bottom of a squat. The best way to ensure this is to keep pushing your butt down until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings and stop there – not a millimeter further.
6. Lift your head up so you’re looking straight ahead and very slightly up, then think “big chest.” This will bring your shoulder blades back and give you an even stronger starting position.
7. Take a big breath of air then pull the bar from the floor. Keep your chest up and head forward so you don’t round your lower back.
8. As the bar rises above your knees, start to push your hips forward forcefully. Squeeze your glutes hard and push them forward.
9. At the top of the lift, keep tight and stand tall. This is your finishing position. If you’re competing in a powerlifting competition, the judge will give you the call of “down” to signal that you’ve completed the lift and must now return the bar to the floor under control.