Deadlift 101 Training Tips

by Omar Castillo, Precor Master Coach in Mexico City, Mexico

Overview: The Deadlift

It’s one of the most popular exercises in the fitness industry – a staple for weight lifters, Crossfitters, and fitness professionals. Deadlifts replicate the motion of lifting an object off the floor. Deadlifts offer tremendous functional and strength benefits for the core, back, legs, and even shoulders.

Below is a recommended list of equipment for following along with the exercises in this blog: 

  • An Olympic Bar with security clips
  • A power rack with adjustable stoppers, or three hard steps or jump boxes
  • 2 plates 
  • 1 pair of dumbbells
  • A foam roller
  • A sand bell or medicine ball

Set-Up

There are three key points to consider when setting up for the deadlift: grip, stance, and back position.

The grip position determines mechanical advantage and comfort. Exercisers may select an uneven grip (overhand and underhand positions) or a pronated grip with palms facing inward. Hands should be just wider than the knees.

For stance position, the feet should be under the hips. The knee position will change the effect of the exercise. Performing deadlifts with extended knees creates one lever between the foot and the hips, while bending the knees creates two different ones. Flexing at the knees creates more motion at the trunk.

The back should be straight.

Selecting a Starting Position

To decide where to start, first analyze your structure, flexibility, and familiarity with the movement. Progressively speaking you could start by training at the highest position for four weeks, and gradually lower the height each month. This can be achieved with steps, risers or a Power Rack.


 

Lifting Strategies

Select the proper number of repetitions based on your training goal. New exercisers should start with muscular endurance training, as this will help them develop patterning and movement familiarity. Depending on an individual’s training phase, their repetitions and load will vary. Regardless of the training volume, motion quality is paramount.

Variations

  • Train form with a dowel or foam roller
  • Train asymmetries with dumbbells
  • Perform with a medicine ball
  • Single leg deadlift with a bar


General Training Guidelines

  • Follow instructions provided by your personal trainer
  • Make sure the exercise matches your goals and capabilities
  • Focus on controlling movement at the extremes of the ranges of motion
  • Don’t add load until you can control the movement pattern
  • Focus on controlling both your moving parts (hips, knees) and non-moving parts (shoulders) 
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