Proper Deadlift Technique

The deadlift is one of the exercises i see the most mistakes performed regarding form and technique.

The deadlift, if performed correctly, will target many important and large muscle groups, not only in your lower body but also in your upper body.

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It will work your strength, core, balance, coordination and posture which makes it an easy exercise to incorporate many muscle groups, who doesn’t want to save some time at the gym !

“Doing the deadlift with good form teaches you to activate the stabilizing muscles around your spine,” says study author Lars Berglund, Ph.D. “It also strengthens your glutes, which are often weak in people with back pain.”

But if done incorrectly even with a slight variation of the proper form you can quickly injure yourself, and often it can lead to long term, painful injuries.

Even when you use a relatively light weight, doing poor reps shift some of the stress to your delicate spine. Little by little, rep by rep, your spine breaks down until you potentially end up with serious back pain, according to Stuart McGill, Ph.D., professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and the author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance.

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One interesting fact about deadlifts is that the exercise you perform in the gym is actually a real movement that we use in our daily living, like lifting objects. So while you’re doing your routine at the gym, you are actually practicing how to use a common daily movement to prevent injuries.

In the same category, the squat is another beneficial exercise, while performed correctly, will help you protect you back and other structures from injuries caused simply by a picking up your shoe…

So now that we know a bit more about deadlifts, there is a test you can self-perform before starting your program at the gym to evaluate if your form is fit for this exercise.

Push your hips back, bend at your waist, and touch your toes. The catch: your back has to remain flat throughout. If you can’t touch your toes—or if you had to round your back to touch your toes—you lack the hip mobility to properly deadlift. You can either ask a friend to take a video, do the test in front of a mirror or ask your beloved physiotherapist to have a look !

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If you passed you are ready to do a deadlift! But wait ! It’s always a better idea to progress your way into it to prevent any injuries and making sure you keep the right form even with heavier weights.

You can start with a body weight deadlift, progress with a kettlebell and then a weight bar, from light to heavier weights. Starting to lift only  a few inches from the ground and progress your way up is another trick to make the smooth transition.

As you do your deadlift, just keep in mind to keep your feet flat on the floor, bend at the knees, hinge at the hip by keeping your low back straight.

Grab the bar with hands shoulder-width apart, keep your shoulders retracted and your neck tucked in. And BREATHE !!!!


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Stay tuned for different variations of deadlift you can do at the gym.