Like the Barbell Back Squat, the Deadlift is one of the most important compound exercises the body can perform. It's primarily a leg and lower back movement, but works the traps, shoulders and improves grip strength as well. However, Deadlifting is one movement that demands 100% correct technique if you want to avoid injury.
First and foremost, you are using your legs to lift the barbell off of the floor, not your lower back. If you’ve never performed a Deadlift before, start with light weight and ask a staff member at your gym to observe and assist you with pointers on your form.
To start the exercise, set up a barbell with plates of equal weight on either side.
If the plates are too small, feel free to put risers underneath so that the barbell is at a comfortable height for you to grip and lift upwards during the movement. Place your feet flat on the ground just about shoulder-width apart and under the barbell. Get your shins as close as possible to the bar.
Bend your knees and grip the barbell with your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart and outside the placement of your feet. Lift your chest up and straighten your lower back so your head, neck and spinal column are aligned in one straight plane.
Your eyes should be looking at the ground out at a distance in front of you. Brace your core and now pick up the barbell while keeping the bar as close as possible to the front of your legs.
Try to imagine that your legs are actually pushing against the ground to bring the weight up instead of your upper body pulling it. Swing your hips in forward as you continue bring the barbell up until your entire body is at an erect, standing position.
Pause for a moment, and then reverse the motion by popping your hips back and lowering the bar back to the floor keeping it as close as possible to the front of your legs. Do not lean too far forward, as this can lead to placing too much weight on your lower spine. This counts as one Deadlift.
Joel Runyon is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE® - performance lifestyle brand encompassing performance apparel & formulas, IMPOSSIBLE Fitness® programs, and a philanthropy arm. An endurance athlete and entrepreneur - he's also the creator of MoveWellApp and owns Ultimate Meal Plans. Find out what next challenge Joel is crossing off his impossible list here.