How to: Powerlifting – The Deadlift


The Deadlift is probably the most overlooked lift in the gym.  I have no earthly idea why people neglect this lift. If you want to lift heavy and look like a badass then you should deadlift. It works your posterior chain: butt, hamstrings, and lower back, better than any complex lift. Also, itcan help you build a core that feels like steel not muscle. For anyone who wants to be a complete lifter they should dead lift. The one thing about the dead lift is that it is the hardest lift to execute with perfect form, but don’t worry…after this article you should have all the tools to complete a perfect deadlift and be bigger and stronger in no time at all.

Gear and Attire:

For this you will need a weight lifting belt to help stabilize your core when you start to go heavy. Also you will need chalk and wraps.  Both of these are to help you maintain your grip on the bar throughout the entire lift. In addition, you will need proper shoes for this lift. Yes…that means leave those bright neon nikes at home and bring the black and white converses or specific power lifting shoes to the gym. Here is an article by Zach about power lifting shoes. (

Set up:

Now for the dead lift set up is key to being able to execute the lift properly. The first thing you should do is get a good position to the bar. To clarify this article is only going to refer to the traditional style of deadlifting, not sumo style. When you approach the bar on the ground walk up to it. Your shins should be touching the bar when you are standing in front of it getting ready to lift. Your feet should be around shoulder length apart, remember for traditional style deadlift you don’t want to get to wide of a base.

Now that you are standing in front of the bar you need slowly bend down to grab the bar. Do not just jump down and grab the bar. For the set up to this lift you have to be in the right slot when approaching the bar to execute this lift properly.  Your first movement down to the bar is pushing your hips back. While pushing your hips back remember to keep your chest up and eyes up. As your hips get back start to bend your legs a little to get your grip on the bar. You must remember that this is not a squat so the form will be different. You need to drop your hips a bit as well during the set up while going to grip the bar. When you get your grip on the bar your forearms should be on the outside of your legs right next to your thighs. Now here is the tricky part: the actual grip. There are three different grips for a dead lift: both hands over the bar palms facing you, both under the bar palms facing away from you, or my personal favorite switch grip where one palm faces you and the other faces away from you.  The grip here is personal preference, the only thing that I will warn you about is with the overhand grip it can sometimes promote you to roll your shoulders forward and arch your back , so be careful that if you do use this grip to maintain good posture throughout the lift. Your weight should be more in your heels than on your soles of your feet.

During the lift:

Now with the correct set up you should be ready to execute a perfect deadlift. First is to take a deep breath before you start the lift filling your midsection so it is tight. Second your whole body should be tight before you try to lift. Make sure that your triceps are flexed, this brings your elbows in keeping the bar close to your body throughout the lift. After this you should start the lift. Your first movement should be you pushing your heels into the floor and pushing your hips forward. Keep your eyes up and chest up. You should have a neutral spine throughout the lift never letting our back curve. After the bar leaves the ground you should keep as close to your body as you can. Your hips and knees should simultaneously rise and extend throughout the lift. At the top of the lift you should be standing straight up. A common problem with the deadlift is that at lockout sometimes people lean too far back. To maintain great form you should thing that your back should be straight and that you should be contracting your glutes and hamstrings hard. Think of it this way at the top of the lift flex your butt hard as if you are trying to crack a nut in them.

The way down is just as important as the way up. To start lowering the weight start with pushing the hips back and lowering the weight. Do not bend your knees until the weight is past them. Also you should maintain the neutral spine position throughout the whole lift. You can maintain this by keeping your chest up and keeping your eyes up.  At the end of the lift do not just drop the weight place it on the ground.

Bottom Line:

The deadlift is an exercise that if performed properly will make you look like a true powerlifter. Also will build a strong posterior chain, and a core strong as steel.


Just a little side note. I know a lot of you want that one lift that will give you a great butt and hamstrings, well here it is. And yes going heavy is the way to go, you wont get bulky or anything like that, you will build long lean legs with toned glutes that will make you rule the stage or the beach.

Share your thoughts