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How to Deadlift


There are many items you can use to practice deadlifting, such as kettlebells, sandbags, medicine balls, barbells, dumbbells Every object will present unique characteristics based on its size, weight, shape, and the availability of gripping options. If you are new to this technique, make sure to practice with a very light weight first, and preferably something that has a comfortable and secure place to grip.


STEP 1

Stand with your feet close to the kettlebell, on each side of it. Ideally, the grip (or the center of mass) should be exactly between your two feet. As you look down, you should see your hands vertically aligned with the handle.


STEP 2

Initiate the “hip hinge” by bending your knees and reaching your rear backwards while keeping a neutral spine. Your spine should form a straight line from your lower back to the crown of your head; chin tucked, and your back is not rounded or arched. Your shoulders should be straight and aligned with the spine as well; neither elevated/shrugged or retracted/pinched together. Once you are in the starting position, grip the handle firmly with arms straight.


STEP 3

Breathe in through the abdomen and “brace” (hold your breath). Start contracting your lats, lower back, abs, hamstrings, and glutes to prevent losing posture and balance as you slowly start pressing your feet into the ground with a mid-foot balance. Immediately drive your hips forward, which is the most important part of the motion. Keep your spine, shoulders, and arms straight throughout the full range of motion. Begin to slowly exhale as you start lifting the load.

STEP 4

Keep extending your legs and driving your hips forward, while maintaining postural integrity. As the load passes the knee line, accelerate the motion.

STEP 5

Finish the movement by standing straight, arms fully lengthened and relaxed, and shoulders down. Contracting your glutes will help you maintain a strong standing position, especially as the load becomes heavy. From here, you want to bring the load down (following the same path you lifted it up) in a controlled manner, but not too slowly. If your position is good from beginning to end, the path the kettlebell follows is strictly vertical, without moving forward or backward.

KEY POINTS

If you are new to the deadlift movement, keep these key points in mind.

  • Maintain a neutral, lengthened spine throughout the full range of motion.

  • Drive the motion through the hips by pressing your feet into the floor with a mid-foot balance.

  • Keep your arms straight and shoulders stabilized.

COMMON MISTAKES

  • Rounding of the back or arching of the lumbar spine

  • Bending the knees too much (i.e. squatting instead of hinging at the hips)

  • Tilting your head backwards too far

PROGRESSIONS

Here are some ways to increase the challenge once you’ve mastered the basic technique.

  • Increase the weight or your total volume of training (e.g. more repetitions or sets)

  • Incorporate the deadlift into other lifting skills (e.g. Lapping, Cleans, Waist Carry, etc.)

  • Use an object that is more difficult to grip or requires a lower hand placement, and thus, a deeper hip hinge (i.e. increase the range of motion by using a natural stone instead of a kettlebell).

© 2019 Diane Barker.