Check out this step-by-step guide to practicing and perfecting the deadlift.
The deadlift is a whole body exercise. This little beauty uses your hips, glutes, hamstrings, abs, and shoulders. The only thing you should not be straining is your arms. You are not pulling the bar off of the ground with your biceps and triceps. You are stabilizing the barbell with your arms and letting your glutes and legs carry you the rest of the way. When choosing the right weight for a barbell, start lighter and move your way towards a heavier weight. You do not want to start too heavy before you are ready as this can lead to unnecessary injury.
The best way you can increase the amount of weight or repetitions is by focusing on your form. Below are two of the most common deadlifts and a step-by-step of their proper forms.
Take your barbell to a place in the gym where you have enough mirror space to face forward and turn to the side. That way, you can check your own form as you go.
For visual learners, here is an example video of the deadlift.
1. Place your barbell on the ground and move your feet so that the bar passes halfway over your shoes. Your feet should be hip-width apart, angled slightly out.
2. Keeping your back straight, bend over the bar and grip it with both hands, shoulder-width apart.
3. Bend your knees. Your shins should almost touch the bar.
4. Lift your chest and head up, re-straighten your back, and flex your butt and abs. You want your back in about a 45 degree angle without any unnatural arching in the lower back.
5. Push through your heels and pull the bar up from the ground. As soon as the bar passes your knees, thrust your hips forward and stand up fully.
6. Keep the exact same form as you reverse the movement and return the bar to the ground. Do NOT round your back to return the weight back down as this will put too much pressure on your spine and injure your back.
In a Romanian Deadlift, you start with the bar in your hands instead of on the floor. The exercise uses different muscles as the main event of this exercise is to bring the bar to the ground instead of lifting it up.
You can also watch this example video of the RDL.
1. Stand with your legs hip-width apart with the bar in your hands. Hold with a shoulder-width grip.
2. Keep a microbend in your knees so they do not lockout, but they should remain relatively straight.
3. Keeping your back straight, bend at your hips and lower the bar as far as you can. Your hamstrings will stop you when they have stretched far enough. Try to at least lower the weight to knee-level. Do not overreach just to get the weight to the ground since you will most likely round your back in order to compensate for your hamstrings.
4. To pull yourself back up, thrust your hips forward and feel your hamstrings straighten you up. You are working your hammies in this workout, not your back. If you feel strain in your back, do not bend as low or choose a lighter weight.