How to you improve your deadlift?

Deadlifts are essentially lifting something heavy off the ground.  They are a compound exercise that involves lifting a loaded barbell/weight off the ground until the bar contacts the legs with arms fully extended then lowering it back to the ground.



Key Benefits

  • Highly functional – they replicate picking up heavy objects that build strength for lifting and carrying objects in everyday life.
  • One of the best muscle mass builders; works the legs, through the core and up to the neck (upper traps).
  • Great glute and hip thrust builder.
  • Improves posture through strengthening the core and posterior chain muscles.
  • Improves grip strength.



Main muscles worked

  • Glute Max
  • Quads, Hamstrings and other parts of leg musculature
  • Spinal erectors
  • Traps (middle and upper)
  • Levator Scapulae (Neck)
  • Rhomboids
  • Rectus abs and obliques


Common errors and remedies


1. Setting up too far from the bar – If the bar is set too far away from the body then you’ll be unbalanced and find yourself tipping forwards as you start to lift the weight. This may cause your lower back to round and strain.  



Solution: When you set up for a deadlift the bar should start over your midfoot which will keep you balanced and ensure the bar travels in the most efficient line, directly upwards as you stand.  



2. Not engaging upper back muscles when initiating lift – If the upper back is not engaged when you go to lift, the shoulders will tend to round forward and your back muscles will have less tension, meaning a weaker position for the lower back when lifting.  



Solution: before you lift the bar flatten your back and pull your shoulders down towards your butt.  Pull up on the bar so there is no slack in your arms and hold your chest up, sitting your hips down.  In this position you should feel tension through your shoulder blades, lats and core and a slight stretch on your hamstrings which means you are ready to lift.  



3. Hyperextending lower back at end of lift – Another common error we see is people overextending their back (tilting backwards and jamming lower back) at the end of the lift.  Each deadlift should end with hip extension where the glutes drive the hips all the way forward at the top of the lift until they contact the bar.



Solution: Ensure you end the lift with a hip extension to contact the bar and don’t lean back at the top.  Get someone to check your form and tell you if you are overextending at the top of the lift.




KB single-leg deadlift – Good for targeting your glute med and strengthening the hamstrings with an added element of core stability and balance. Perform movement by:

  • Standing on one leg with a kettlebell or dumbbell weight in opposite hand,
  • hinge forward at hip extending the free leg behind you until your torso is parallel with the ground,
  • then return to start position.
  • Note: The weight will naturally lower toward the ground as you hold your arm relaxed at your side in a dead hang.  



Straight legged deadlift – Also known as the ‘Romanian Deadlift’ the straight legged deadlift is great for targeting and stretching as well as strengthening the hamstrings and hips.  

  • The straight legged deadlift starts at the top of the movement in a standing position holding the bar at hip level,
  • From here, lower the bar by sticking your butt back to the wall behind you,
  • hinging at the hips until you reach the max range of your hamstring flexibility which should be just below the knee.



We hope you’re going well with your deadlift and be sure to hit up one of the PT’s if you want further coaching.