Deadlifts - How to Deadlift With Proper Technique
Deadlifts are one of the most powerful weight lifting exercises that you can have in your routine. It's technically a back exercise, but really works every single muscle in your body. If you are looking at using it to improve your muscle size and strength then you need to be able to know how to get set up correctly and execute the movement with proper technique - That is, if you want rapid results without injury.
To begin with you need to make sure you are in a relatively open space to allow you to perform deadlifts without obstruction. It is important to understand how much weight you will be able to lift so do not load the bar with to much weight to begin with and give yourself an impossible challenge as it won't benefit you and it will put you at risk of injury.
You must prepare your body for this challenging full body exercise by getting yourself in the correct position, which is the most complicated part of the entire exercise.
Firstly, make sure your stance is correct by standing directly in front of the barbell, keeping your feet about shoulder width apart and angling your toes outwards slightly. The barbell itself should be extremely close to your body, resting on the floor over the middle of your feet and just a few inches away from your shins. Although you may find this a bit of an unusual starting position for the bar to be in, you will see that the bar is actually in contact with your body for the entire deadlift.
With the barbell in the correct position, you should bend down from the waist to get a hold of it. If you need to then you can bend at the knees a little but ensure you do not lower your hips in this motion as you need them to be as high as possible. Grab hold of the barbell with both hands and have both palms facing towards you. Your hands should be positioned just to outsides of your legs and this position should remain the same for each and every lift. Although you can move onto to testing different grip techniques your grip width must stay the same.
Bend your knees and get your shins down to the barbell until they make contact. This shouldn't take too much bending as the bar is right front of your shins to begin with. Make sure you leave the bar in its resting spot and do not roll it towards you. As you bend your knees remember not to lower your hips. You need to sort out your upper body position as well before you are ready to lift. Push your shoulders back and bring your chest out and this will straighten out your back as well locking your arms. You may notice your hips might start to lower if you don't have the flexibility to get into this position efficiently and the key thing to do is make sure your shins are still touching the bar. Do not try and compensate by moving your shins back. Automatically, your head should come up and you should look forwards across the room.
Before you begin the deadlifts exercise, make sure your entire body is correctly positioned with your hips as high as possible. Your shoulder blades should be straight above the bar and you should feel tension in your body and that is what will generate the force for the lift. Once your body is ready to lift the weight without having to make any adjustments then you are ready to begin the exercise.
Always remember that deadlifts require you to keep looking forward and focus on the wall across the room through each rep you do. Keep your head facing forwards and don't look around you. If you have a mirror across from you this can help you as you can look forwards and monitor your technique at the same time. To start the lift, generate force by pushing down through your heels, thus transferring your strength upwards.
When you are lifting weight from the floor to your knee level, the most important muscles are your hamstrings and your lower back muscles. You should contract these together to increase the tension in your body and it should be strongest in the area right above the bar, i.e. the shoulder blade area so you are able to lift the bar off the ground. As you lift the bar from the floor, you should continue to drive through your heels to force your weight and your hips upwards and your knees will begin to straighten from their bent stance. Before the weight is lifted, your hips should not be moving up but once you are lifting then they should move up in unison with your shoulders.
Contract your glutes and your quads as the bar goes past your knees. The force from your glutes will drive your hips forwards and get you into the locked out straight position whilst your quads will offset the downward pressure and lock your knees. Do not attempt to pull up with your lower back, focus on using your glutes to force you up (you will naturally utilize your lower back muscle when done correctly). Throughout the deadlift, keep the bar in contact with your body. Begin with it at your shins and as you lift slide it up past them over your knees until you bring it onto your thighs to complete the lift.
Hold the bar for a second in your fully straight locked out position before lowering the bar. Unlike the explosive nature of deadlifting the bar up, lowering it down is much more of a controlled movement. Begin reversing your movements and start to lower the weight by sliding your hips and backside backwards and slide the bar down to your knees. Now bend your knees again to allow you to lower bar the rest of the way with it touching your shins and although your hips won't have far to drop, drop them straight down at the same speed as your shoulders. Remember to continue looking straight ahead whilst keeping your chest up. Once the bar is back on the ground you can start the next rep and if you have lowered the bar correctly, you should be in the exact same starting position as you before meaning you don't have to make any adjustments.
And that's just about all you need to know about how to deadlift...
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