Exercise of the Month – The Deadlift

Often misunderstood and given bad press, but if done correctly it can be an incredible tool in building muscle mass, strength, decreasing risk of injury and improving overall body conditioning.

Most people integrate Deadlifts in to their ‘Back’ day, but when done correctly will hit the hamstrings, quads, whole back, abs and shoulders. It forms one of the ‘Big 3’ Power Lifts and will compete with the Back Squat for most peoples’ strongest lifting effort.

How is it done?

The principle behind a Deadlift is easy, but in practise it’s not just as simple as merely picking up a barbell from the floor. When teaching the lift, I find that breaking the lift up into 3 parts is the easiest way to teach it.

The Set Up:

  • Stand facing a barbell (on the floor) with a shoulder width stance. The bar should be roughly half way over your feet with the shins fairly close.
  • Squatting down with your chest high, grasp the bar with an overhand or mixed grip. Your arms should be just beside your thighs with your triceps locked.
  • Ensure that your hips are sunk low and chest is forced as high as possible.

The Pull:

  • Once the set up is complete, you’re ready to pull. Perform the action by simultaneously driving your heels into the floor and driving your hips forward, pulling the bar up your shins. The bar should stay as close to your body as possible, ensuring that it travels in a straight line.
  • As the bar gets past your knees, squeeze your glutes to complete the lock out phase.

The Descent:

  • Keeping the chest as high as possible, reverse the motion down, maintaining the same level of tension in your body as you applied when lifting from the floor.

The single most important element of the lift is that you maintain your neutral spine, keeping your back flat. If this isn’t possible and you find your back rounding, it is heavily recommended that you focus on improving your flexibility before going heavy.

Andy Knight, Personal Trainer, Caversham Health & Fitness


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