Barbell Deadlifts

The Deadlift is a powerful exercise that should be a part of every serious trainers routine.

It uses more active muscle mass than any other exercise, including squats. The focus of the Deadlift is usually considered the lower back, however it does work most of the major (and many of the minor) muscles in the body. The Deadlift is extremely useful for building muscle mass and total body strength because of the great amount of muscle mass it uses.

The version in the video below is called a Trap Bar Deadlift. I've got 525 lbs on the bar here. In terms of exectuion and learning, it's easier to perform than a straight bar deadlift and generally the best way for a person to learn how to deadlift.

The mechanics are very similar to the regular straight bar deadlift.


A post shared by Nick Nilsson (@nicknilsson1) on


How to Perform a Deadlift

Step up to a loaded barbell. Place your feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart and crouch down with the bar touching your shins.

Grasp the bar with either a palms-back grip (recommended for most of your training...known as a double-overhand grip) or a mixed grip (one hand palm-up, the other palm down...only use this when you get to the point where the double-overhand grip doesn't allow you to hold onto the bar) just outside your legs.

At this point, your legs should be bent at 90 degrees or less, your back should be straight (do not hunch over), you should be looking straight forward or a little bit down in front of you.

Deadlifts - Start position


Begin the movement by straightening your legs (standing up). As the bar clears your knees, straighten your back until you are standing vertical with the weight.

You should essentially be dragging the bar up your shins and legs in order to keep the weight as close to your body as possible. This minimizes torque on your lower back.

Barbell Deadlifts - Top Position

Lower the weight slowly and repeat.


Here are a few tips to remember as you are deadlifting.

  • Squeeze the bar off the floor - don't snatch at it.
  • Consciously lead with your head and shoulders to maintain a flat back.
  • Keep off your toes. Sit back to engage the large muscles of the hips and lower back.


Common Errors for the Deadlift:

1. Allowing your back to round over

Always try to keep an arch in your lower back. It is natural for a little rounding to occur after the bar has cleared your knees but if you do the entire exercise with a rounded back, you are going to get hurt.

Error: Deadlifts - Hunched-over position


2. Lifting unevenly

If one side of the bar comes up higher or if the bar starts rotating as you are lifting, then you are lifting unevenly. To remedy this, make sure your grip is even on the bar. Using a mixed grip can cause rotation as you lift so be sure to pull up evenly.


3. Leaning back at the top

Do not lean back at the top of the movement. This could relax the erector spinae and make the spine take the whole load, leading to injury. Leaning back at the top does not constitute a full range of motion.


4. Holding your breath

Don't hold your breath during the movement as that can increase blood pressure to dangerous levels.


5. Dropping the weight

Don't forget the negative portion of this movement. Don't just drop the weight. Lower it slowly. The negative is an extremely valuable part of the deadlift.

Tricks for the Deadlift:

1. The mixed grip

The mixed grip (one hand facing forward, one hand facing back) is better for a stronger grip as it prevents the bar from rolling.

Deadlifts - Mixed Grip

  • Alternate which hand grips which way to prevent strength and muscle imbalances
  • Be sure you grip evenly if you do use a mixed grip.
  • If you find the weight swinging to one side excessively, adjust your grip spacing accordingly.
  • The side it is rotating to is usually closer to the center of the bar though this could also depend on which way you are gripping.
  • The bar usually has a tendency to rotate towards the hand that has a pronated grip (palms back).


Learn how to perform Seated Cable Rows here.



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