Preparing for a deadlift. Image via Pexels/Victor Freitas

How to deadlift: proper form & technique to avoid injury

Deadlifting is one of the most simple, yet complex compound exercises in the weightlifting sphere. It is simple because of its movement. Everyone is familiar with how it works; you just lift the weight off the ground and put it back on.

It is a complex move because of all the muscles it engages during these simple actions of pick-up and drop.


Deadlifts train hamstrings, glutes, lowerback, hip flexors, and the core. It is a popular exercise across demographics to build strength and mass.


How to do a Deadlift

Let’s take you through the deadlift step-by-step. For this exercise, you will need a barbell. If you’re a beginner, using an empty bar is good enough.


• Stand straight with the barbell on the floor in front of you. Keep your feet hip-distance apart.

• Bend at your knees, lower your hips and lean forward to grab the bar. Ensure your arms are outside your knees and your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width. Take a breath in.

• Upon exhalation, straighten your back and your legs and lift the barbell. Bring your hips forward while squeezing your glutes.

• Lower yourself back down in the same way as step 2 until the bar touches the floor again.


• Repeat the movement for 12 to 15 reps.

Totally simple! Just to be sure, you can watch this video:


However, it is very easy to injure yourself while performing a deadlift. To avoid injury and ensure flawless execution, here are some pointers to help you:

Keep your core engaged

Keeping your core active throughout the deadlift is vital to ensure your back is straight and your body is more stable during exercise.

Keep your shoulders upright

This will ensure the bar is pulled in a straight plane without your shoulders taking the brunt of the load. It’ll also keep the bar from hitting you in the knees.

Do not let shoulders sag. Image via Unsplash/Anastase Maragos

Lift with the legs and hips


A common mistake is primarily trying to lift the load using the arms. This could injure the arms or even the back. Instead, push the ground away with your legs and hips as you stand up.

Start with a lighter load

To deadlift heavy early on is obviously very tempting, but it poses a great risk of injury. It’s advisable to only progress with weights if your form is perfect while lifting lighter weights.

Use chalk to help with grip

A lot of times, sweaty hands and poor grip get in the way of our ability to lift heavier. Slap some powdered chalk in your hands and you should be good to go!

Use a weightlifting belt

Using a belt around your waist is a safe way to help you lift more. It keeps your core stable as you progress through the weights, reducing the risk of injuring yourself.

Using a belt helps lift heavier loads. Image via Unsplash/Alora Griffiths

Deadlifts are an essential addition to anybody’s leg or back days. It is versatile because of all the muscles it engages. Remember that lifting heavy is a progressive journey and you mustn’t ever attempt to lift something too heavy right off the bat. Be sure to warm your body up and stretch later to keep the cramps at bay!


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