If you want to build a stronger back while also targeting your lower body, deadlifts should be your go-to! Deadlifts are a compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups at once, including the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and upper back. Plus, they help improve posture and overall athletic performance!
However, deadlifts can be a difficult exercise, and if not done correctly it can cause a serious injury. To reap all the benefits this exercise has to offer and avoid injury, learn to deadlift properly. That said we put together a step-by-step guide on how to deadlift with proper form, plus tips to ensure you're safely building muscle and strength with this exercise.
How to deadlift properly
You might think deadlifts are easy since it basically involves lifting a barbell up and down, but it actually requires good technique. When deadlifting, follow these four steps...
Set up your stance and grip
Set up the barbell with the appropriate weight for your fitness level. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with the barbell on the ground in front of you. Bend down and grasp the bar with an overhand grip, with your hands shoulder-width apart. Your shins should be touching the bar, and your back should be straight.
Engage your core
Before lifting the bar, engage your core muscles by taking a deep breath and bracing your abs. This will help stabilize your spine and protect your lower back.
Lift the bar
Begin lifting the bar by driving your feet into the ground and pushing your hips forward. Keep your back straight and your shoulders pulled back as you lift the bar to hip height. Once you've lifted the bar to hip height, slowly lower it back to the ground with control.
Repeat for reps
Perform multiple reps of the deadlift, making sure to maintain proper form throughout each rep. Take breaks as needed, and gradually increase the weight as you become stronger and more comfortable with the movement.
Tips for Safe Deadlifting
Learning how to deadlift is just one part, the other is making sure you're doing so safely! Below are a few tips to help you deadlift safely and reduce your risk of injury...
Warm up properly
Before performing deadlifts, it's important to warm up your muscles and joints. This will ensure they're not tight which can get in the way of your range of motion.
So, before you start deadlifting (or any heavy weightlifting) start your warm-up with light cardio, such as jogging or jumping jacks, to get your blood flowing. Then perform some dynamic stretches, such as leg swings, deep squats, and hip circles. This will help with your hip mobility and prepare your muscles and joints for the movement. We suggest warming up for at least 5-10 minutes before working out.
Start with lighter weights
We recommend starting with lighter weights and working your way up to heavier weights. An example of this is doing pyramid sets, which involves starting with a lower volume and gradually increasing it. This can be starting your first set with only a barbell and doing 10 reps, then adding 50 l and doing 8 reps, and so on.
Maintain proper form
Proper form is crucial for safe and effective deadlifting. Keep your back straight and your shoulders pulled back throughout the movement. Avoid rounding your back or allowing your shoulders to slump forward. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine and protect your lower back.
Use a weightlifting belt and lifting straps
Weightlifting gear isn't necessary, but using it at the appropriate times can help you lift better, confidently, and for longer!
Using lifting belts on your heaviest sets can provide additional support for your lower back and help reduce the risk of injury. However, it's important to use the belt properly and not rely on it as a substitute for proper form and technique.
Using lifting straps on your heaviest sets connects your hand to the weight to improve traction, protect your grip, and minimize your risk of injury.
Rest between sets
Rest between sets to allow your muscles to recover and avoid overtraining. Aim for at least 2-3 minutes of rest between sets.
Practice deadlift variations
Deadlifts are great but don't neglect variations. Deadlift variations will help improve your deadlifts and target different muscle groups you're trying to strengthen.
Here are a few of the best deadlift variations you should implement in your routine:
- Romanian deadlifts
- Kettlebell sumo deadlift
- Rack pulls
- Trap bar deadlift
- Single-leg Romanian deadlifts with dumbbells
Start deadlifting safely and with proper form
Deadlifts are a powerful exercise that can help build total body strength, improve posture, increase athletic performance, burn more calories, and reduce the risk of injury. By incorporating deadlifts into your workout routine and following proper form and technique, you can maximize the benefits of this effective exercise.
Remember to warm up properly, start with lighter weights, maintain proper form, use a weightlifting belt, rest between sets, and consult a professional if needed. With dedication and consistency, deadlifts can help you achieve your fitness goals and improve your overall health and well-being.
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