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The barbell should start over your mid foot, then you drag the bar up your legs, vertically, and finish standing tall with the bar in your arms.


No matter how you attempt to setup and execute a deadlift the weight of the loaded barbell will force the lift to follow a certain set of rules. Simply the bar will move in a near vertical line over your mid foot. If we expect this from the pull we can setup to lift in a way that is predictable and repeatable.




  • Foot position – The bar should start over your mid-foot. This will be 1inch from your shins when you are standing tall. No exceptions.
  • Stance Width – Around hip width and feet turned out around 15 degrees.
  • Grip – Mixed grip or hook grip. Both are acceptable although we prefer hook grip and straps shouldn’t really be necessary.
  • Spine – You should aim to maintain a neutral spine throughout the lift.
  • Shoulders – Start in front of the bar so your arms are not exactly vertical.
  • Head – Your head and neck should also be in a neutral position in line with your back. This will start with your eyes looking at the floor out in front of you at the setup.
  • Chest – Your chest, which is another way of thinking of your spine angle, should be facing where your eyes are looking at the end of the setup before you lift the bar.

Lifting the barbell


It’s important to understand 2 things.


One the barbell should move in a straight line vertically off the floor, when you picture your deadlift this should be part of the image as if the barbell were on a set of runners going straight up. It’s the most efficient way to lift the bar.


Two, no matter your set-up you will return to a standard pulling position, on a heavy deadlift. If you attempt the pull with your hips too low, like a squat position, they will raise to a standard setup position before the bar leaves the floor. If your shoulders are behind the bar when you try to pull they will edge out in front of the bar before it leaves the floor. If the bar is not over your mid foot, for example out over the ball of your foot it will move backwards before lifting.


You can only focus on one cue at a time when you lift but you can spend all day on your setup before you attempt that lift. This is how you should set up for a deadlift.


First, think of the bar as an immovable object, it will remain perfectly still until you lift it. You will get yourself into position around the barbell, not roll it to where you feel comfortable.


Bear in mind that once you are in your setup position you should not feel comfortable, to feel comfortable you must stand up…with the bar.


Setup is as follows

  1. Place your feet hip width apart, toes turned out very slightly, under the bar with your shins 1 inch away from the bar.
  2. Bend down and place your hands on the bar. You should still feel relaxed at this point and you can take your time here and make sure you are happy with your grip. (Mixed/ hook grip).
  3. Without moving the bar let your knees come forward until your shins touch the bar, straighten out your arms with some weight in your hands (think of taking the slack out of the bar).
  4. Take a deep breath, tighten up your abs and lower back and lift your chest.
  5. Pull

The pull


Once you have set up correctly and start the lift it's important to have one cue in your mind. You cannot focus on two conflicting things at once. For example your mind cannot be on what your back is doing at the same time as your knees.


From the floor, assuming you attempt to lift the barbell off the floor from a standard setup position, the bar should move up your shins as your spine stays in a neutral position and your back angle remains constant.


Once you pass your knees your back will move towards a more vertical position. This cannot happen before the bar passes your knees without putting you in a less efficient squat type position. At this point of the lift you will focus on lifting your chest.


At the top of the rep you will fully extend your knees and hips without any hip hitching. This is where a lifter rocks back and forward, inching the bar up the last part of the lift. You should also not hyper extend your hips by excessively pushing them forward at the top of the rep.




Do not drop the bar, you should keep your hands on the bar but you don’t have to lower it slowly. Go at a speed that suits you and keep control of the movement to the floor. IN other words the bar can drop quickly but should go in a straight line and you should move in a mirror image to the way up.




At the bottom of the rep you should stop long enough to take another deep breath and brace again before your next pull. DO NOT bounce the bar off of the floor and go straight into the next rep.




Lifting shoes are fine but deadlifting shoes, which are flat, solid and have as little sole as possible are best. You can also deadlift with socks. This is better than running shoes, mostly because it’s more stable and because your heels are slightly lower.  


A belt should allow you to create more rigidity in your core and allow you to lift more, there is no good argument for not using one on heavy sets however, like anything you do not want to become totally reliant on your belt so it should not be used all the time.


Chalk will improve your grip on the bar, use it.


A lifting platform is best because you have a solid surface to stand on and rubber to put the plates on.

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