You know as well as me that if you want to get stronger then you should deadlift.
In fact, regardless of your body composition goals you’ll typically find that they’re easier to achieve if you deadlift.
Basically, deadlifts hit a huge number of muscles in the body and will jack up your metabolism, while also working your central nervous system.
That being said, if you’re not hitting the deadlift numbers that you’d like, it makes sense to look at your deadlift form.
So, in this article I’d like to introduce 5 simple tips that will help you instantly improve and attain a stronger deadlift.
You can instantly improve your deadlift by:
- Narrowing your stance to shoulder-width.
- Inhale deeply and brace your core.
- Chest up and shoulders in a neutral position.
- “Pull the slack” out of the barbell.
- Treat the Deadlift as a “push” not a “pull” exercise.
Foot Placement For Deadlifts
I see a lot of people perform deadlifts with what I’d describe as a squat stance.
So, their feet are much wider than shoulder-width and turned out to a 30-degree angle.
However, in reality you’ll want your feet to be much closer together.
I like to deadlift with my feet approximately shoulder-width apart with my feet turned out ever so slightly.
This ensures that my knees will track the same direction as my toes are facing.
Doing this ensures I avoid the dreaded inward collapse of the knees when I deadlift.
Inhale Deeply Before You Deadlift
Once more, this is something that I don’t see many people do before they deadlift.
Basically, taking a deep breath before you approach the bar is the best way to brace your core.
Realistically, you want your body to be tight and your muscles contracted prior to deadlifting.
I guess you can liken this to what you do to your body as you prepare to receive a punch in the stomach.
So, you’ll typically suck in your stomach and tense your entire body in anticipation.
And this is exactly what you’ll want to do just before you place your hands on the bar.
Bracing your core not only provides that tense body required before you lift a heavy weight, but in terms of deadlifting, it also protects your lower back.
I’m sure you’ll agree that this is extremely important.
Deadlift With Your Chest Up & Shoulders Neutral
When you approach the bar and then grab it to deadlift you must ensure that you keep your chest up and shoulders neutral.
A neutral shoulder position simply means don’t allow your shoulders to roll forward or to roll backward.
You just want to keep your shoulders in their natural position by your side.
As for keeping your chest up this should happen automatically when you take a deep breath in to brace your core.
That being said, many trainees allow their chest to drop as they bend down to grab the bar.
By doing this you’ll actually take a lot of the tension off our glutes and hamstrings, which are the main body parts you should be using to deadlift the bar from the floor.
Unfortunately, this also means that you’re more likely to use your lower back to deadlift.
So, always make sure that your chest remains up and puffed out.
Always “Pull the Slack” Out of the Barbell Prior to Deadlifting
This is an extremely important point especially in terms of injury prevention.
So, when you grab the bar you initially want to push your feet into the ground and ensure that your arms are straight.
I see many people approach the bar with a slight bend in their elbow and then “pulling” the bar from the floor.
You may have heard horror stories of trainees tearing a bicep when they deadlift, although this is often blamed on using a mixed grip.
Sure, while this can be dangerous, it usually comes down to the fact that there is a bend in your elbow.
Therefore, when you approach the bar to deadlift make sure you “pull the slack” out of the barbell.
This means that your arms will be straight and you can use your glutes and hamstrings to “lift” the weight, as opposed to pulling with your arms.
Push Your Feet Into the Ground
Most of us view deadlifts as a pull exercise, whereas I view it more as a push exercise.
And this can actually make a huge psychological difference to how you deadlift.
If you treat the movement as a pull exercise, realistically you’re pulling with your arms to deadlift the weight off the floor.
By doing this you are mainly using your arms and lower back to lift the weight.
This is obviously very dangerous.
If you think about it you’ll typically deadlift more weight than any other barbell exercise.
So, it doesn’t make sense to mainly use the “smaller” or “weaker” muscles to achieve this, i.e. arms, biceps, forearms, and lower back.
Therefore, the best way to deadlift is to use your larger muscles, i.e. glutes and hamstrings.
You can achieve this by imagining that you’re trying to push your feet into the ground.
I liken this to standing in sand and trying to push your feet deeper into the sand.
This “pushing into the ground” movement will automatically activate the glutes and hamstrings.
This in turn makes it much easier to concentrate on using these glutes and hamstrings to deadlift the weight.
So, these are the 5 ways to instantly improve your deadlift:
- Don’t have your feet wider than shoulder-width, feel slightly turned out so your knees can track over your toes.
- Inhale deeply and brace your core (and entire body) as you approach the barbell.
- Keep your chest up and ensure that your shoulders don’t roll forwards or backwards.
- “Pull the Slack” out of the bar.
- Treat the deadlift as a “push exercise” by imagining that you’re trying to push your feet through the floorboards.
If you regularly do this whenever you deadlift your form will be much better, which is ideal for improving and increasing your deadlift while avoiding injury.
Next, make sure to check out the ONLY 2 exercises you need for wider shoulders.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.