How to Perform a Deadlift and Common Bad Habits

I don’t need to sell you the deadlift – simply put, it’s the strength leader of all-time and thee exercise for developing the body’s major movers. That is why I cover how to perform a deadlift and common bad habits.

How to Perform a Deadlift and Common Bad Habits (1)

Man has always tested himself by seeing who can pick up the heaviest stone or object off the floor. Having said this, it now  brings us to today’s era where we have a vast variety of specimens attempting to deadlift or improve their deadlift, from the weekend warriors, CrossFitters, strength enthusiasts and even those regular guys who have watched an episode of ESPN’s World’s Strongest Man and are now feeling pretty inspired.

What is a Deadlift?

The deadlift is a simply executed exercise, if performed correctly. The bar (typically loaded with appropriate weight) is on the floor and must be lifted up, through a full range of motion and extension of the body, until you are standing upright with the bar in both hands. Pretty simple, right? So where can something so simple in theory go wrong?

It can go wrong before you have even started to pull on the bar, by having lazy hips. Below I will explain in brief on each area to concentrate on so that you will soon be deadlifting like a Viking God…

Pictures below of  Joshua Capazorio

How to Perform the Deadlift and Its Deadly Habits

The Foot Position of Doom

This is one of the first things to look at when observing/performing a deadlift. How you approach the bar is what will allow you to execute a strong pull or weaken your levers and leave you rounding (your back) like a ninja turtle with no deadlift to boast, and could even leave you vulnerable to potential injury.

The Foot Position of Doom (1)

To correct this, make sure your stance is narrow and your toes are slightly pointed outwards; this foot stance can be found by practicing a few standing vertical jumps. You will find that your feet will find the best place to create a position suited for an explosive extension through the hips without you even noticing. Use this foot stance and then place your hands (holding the bar) right next to your legs, to keep a nice compact structure.

The Foot Position of Doom (2)

Bar To Butt Relation

You could either have high hips or low hips; it varies depending on your personal structure and mobility. However, you cannot be separated from the bar when deadlifting. Nor can you sit behind the bar. The bar must be positioned at the start right above the top of the foot, with your knees pushing slightly over the bar and your shoulders must be boldly above the bar to create a dominant position. You should be fully “loaded” through your hamstrings.

Bar To Butt Relation (1)

From this position, while executing the pull (the lift), you want your butt to match the bar movement – you do not want to let that gap grow between them. By this I mean do not let your butt rise too fast to the point where the bar has hardly moved at all, or the opposite happens and you attempt sitting in the pull (at the start) where the bar is moving and the hips have not. Let the bar and your hips be best friends – they need to move together and at the same time.

Bar To Butt Relation (2)

Once you get this timing right you want to emphasise speed from the ground by pushing hard into the ground with your feet (your heels); this sets the tone for how your deadlift will develop and helps you create enough force to move larger weights.

Dominant Hips

How many times have you gotten a deadlift above the knees and then the bar just gets an attitude with you and doesn’t seem to budge? Or even worse, it’s a few inches from locking out at the top and the bar just stops… dead?

Dominant Hips (1)

This is all from lack of force from the hips coming through and pushing towards the bar. Your hips should thrust forward and make contact with the bar. As that bar comes up, past the knees, push your hips forward while making yourself taller to execute and develop one magical pull.

Dominant Hips (2)


There are many other factors to determine what else is happening in your deadlift, like your posture, programming and deadlift patterns, but by focusing on the above fundamental pointers, they will get you pulling in the right direction.

Did the above tips on how to perform a deadlift and its common bad habits point out areas you feel could improve your deadlift?

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