Although the deadlift is one of the most popular and most effective compound exercises used in the gym, it's also one of the most common exercises performed incorrectly by beginners and even fitness vets.

In this video, I discuss the proper form and foundations necessary for correctly performing the deadlift exercise and I also provide five common mistakes and how to correct them to help avoid injury while maximizing strength increases and muscle growth.


Step 1: Foot & Hand Positioning. Starting with the correct foot and hand positioning when performing the deadlift is key to ensuring the maximum effectiveness and safety of the exercise. Your feet should be at or slightly over hip-width apart and your hands should be placed on the bar outside of your knees where they naturally hang when relaxed. The bar should be 1-2 inches from your shins, as you'll be using them to guide the bar upwards as you perform each repetition.

Step 2: Hip & Shoulder Positioning: Once you've gotten your hands and feet in the correct place, it's important that your hips are somewhere between your knees and your shoulders. Don't drop your hips too low or too far out, which may cause your back to bend when performing the deadlift exercise. You should also tighten your scapula (shoulder blades) and push your chest outward, creating a straight line from your hips to your neck. This position should be maintained throughout the entire deadlift repetition.

Step 3: Perform The Repetition: Once you've prepped your deadlift positioning through proper placement of your hands and feet and gotten your hips and shoulders in line, next you'll pull the bar toward your shins, engaging the lats and press the bar upwards using your legs. The hinge point during this exercise is the knees. Once the bar has reached knee height, you should then engage your hips using your back to bring the bar the rest of the way upward; using your legs as a guide for the bar as it propels directly upward.

Common Mistakes:

Common Mistake #1: Poor Hip Positioning - Hips that are too low or too high during the setup can cause an unnatural range of motion and poor leg engagement or rounded back respectively.

Common Mistake #2: Rounded Back - A rounded back is often the result of poor bar positioning, weak hips, and/or lack of leg engagement during the exercise. This type of poor form is the number one cause of injuries incurred by athletes performing the deadlift exercise.

Common Mistake #3: Bar Positioning - When beginning the repetition while the barbell has forward or backward momentum and the bar is too far away from the shins when beginning the repetition can force your body to overcompensate by causing you to round your back, using your back and shoulders to lift during the first portion of the deadlift exercise. Be sure that the bar is stationary and runs along your shins and thighs as you progress upwards through each repetition.

Common Mistake #4: Explosive Start - Often times athletes will try to quickly and explosively yank or pull the barbell from the ground during the initial portion of the deadlift exercise. Be sure that your shoulders, scapula, and lats are engaged, with your chest pushing outward during the beginning of each repetition. This position should stay under constant tension and be tight as you perform each deadlift repetition.

Common Mistake #5: Overarching Your Lower Back - Often times you'll see athletes performing the deadlift exaggerate the arch in their lower back at the top of each deadlift repetition. This action can oftentimes be caused by too much explosive energy during the top portion of the exercise. This type of overexaggerated arch can cause unnecessary pressure on your lower back causing injury. At the top of each deadlift repetition, be sure to keep your back tight and straight, using your traps to stabilize until you begin lowering the barbell to the floor.

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