How to deadlift properly: your ultimate guide to deadlifting

The deadlift belongs to the three basic powerlifting exercises, along with squat and bench press. This lift consists of lifting the barbell from the ground to the height of the pelvis. While apparently a simple and immediate exercise to perform, the correct execution of the deadlift conceals many pitfalls that require precise and constant training to correct.

What is a deadlift?

What is a deadlift?


The deadlift is the exercise that allows you to lift the heaviest weights. This is due to the involvement of large muscle groups in the lower body, which are able to express considerable strength during this lift. It is in fact one of the main exercises that are used for building strength.

The muscles mainly involved in the execution of the deadlift are those with the function of extending both pelvis and knees, allowing you to start with the knee in a bent position and end the lift straight up. Thus, it is the hamstrings and buttocks for the pelvic extension and the femoral quadriceps for the knee extension.


Besides these primary motor muscles, other lower-limb muscles, such as adductors and abductors, also contribute to the stability of the pelvis during elevation. Although they have the sole and yet fundamental function of stabilizing the trunk, we cannot fail to mention the involvement of the abdominals in the execution of this exercise. These are particularly active during the execution of the deadlift, creating an ideal intra-abdominal pressure that provides sustenance to the entire abdominal and lumbar area.

How to deadlift without breaking your back

How to deadlift without breaking your back

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Once the barbell has been loaded and placed on the ground, move closer to the barbell by placing your feet underneath it in a neutral position. The distance and orientation of the toes should be approximately the same as when you are standing in a resting position: the distance is equal to that of the shoulders and the feet are slightly rotated outwards. The space between the tibia and the barbell should be about 3 cm, so that you can make sure the barbell is already in contact with your legs once you start lifting.

Bend your torso and legs and hold the barbell outside your knees, adjusting your body properly to start lifting. Place your shoulders in aligned to the barbell or slightly forward, always keeping your elbows extended.

Remember that the arms should not be pulled when performing the deadlift, but are simply the means by which to attach the barbell to your body. The back must be in a neutral position: rotate the pelvis forward, so to keep the physiological curvature of the lumbar area. Retract and lower your shoulder blades and align your head with the spine. This position is necessary to be able to express strength in the most effective way for the lower limbs, without putting too much pressure on the back muscles, which must instead have the function to stabilize the trunk in a neutral position.


Begin the execution of the deadlift pressing the feet vigorously against the floor, without transferring too much weight towards either the toe or the heel. In the first part of the pull, raise your shoulders and pelvis together, until the barbell reaches your knees. From here on, increase the speed of execution by rapidly extending your pelvis thanks to the powerful contraction of hamstrings and buttocks. The deadlift ends when knees, hips and shoulders are aligned with each other and the barbell is in contact with the body, supported by the arms that are stretched along the hips.

What deadlift mistakes you should avoid

What deadlift mistakes you should avoid


As you do a deadlift, you may accidentally make some mistakes. This does not apply only to newbies, but also to those with some experience, when they begin to significantly increase the load on the barbell. Sometimes, it happens that the neutral position of the back is compromised and that during the deadlift the back forms a kyphotic curve. This “hump” posture, which can be seen from the both at the beginning and during the lift, is incorrect. Indeed, this position transfers part of the weight of the barbell to the lumbar area.

This must be avoided, not so much for the sake of performance, but mainly to preserve the health of your back. To avoid this error, practice a lot with low loads on the correct alignment of the position of the pelvis and back, and do not increase the kg on the barbell if you see that your execution is compromised.

The best way to ensure a good load trajectory during the deadlift is to keep the barbell as close to the legs as possible throughout the execution of the movement. A frequent mistake is to move it away during the lift and to bring it closer to the pelvis once the lift is over. To prevent this from happening, you should always feel the delicate contact of the barbell with the lower limbs during the entire arc of movement.


The right timing of the deadlift requires time and technical precision to be learned. Often, the reason why you lose contact with the barbell is because of incorrect timing in the extension of the knee and hip joints. It is common for the deadlift to slip away from your hands when you are in too much of a hurry to execute the lift. In fact, it often happens that the knees extended too quickly, even before reaching the height of the kneecap with the barbell, causing a backward sliding of the pelvis.

Always try from the first moments of your deadlift to keep the chest forward and start the movement without changing the inclination of the torso.

Are you ready to deadlift the right way?

Are you ready to deadlift the right way?


To increase the strength of your lower limbs with the deadlift, you can practice this movement in the Skillathletic classes where you work on the development of Power. The two classes in question are Brave and Mighty. The use of the barbell sometimes frightens even the bravest. Don’t worry though! You can learn the movement first with a mobility stick, and then by adding a light load using other tools such as kettlebells or dumbbells.

The deadlift is an exercise where you can express a lot of strength, so you will surely be impressed to realize that from your very first attempt you will be able to add more loads and raise more kg than you could ever imagine. Thanks to Brave and Mighty, you will be able to practice this fundamental movement in all safety, since the coach will always be there to help you.


Instead, if you are not a fan of big loads, you will be able to train on the deadlift with a single or double kettlebell. This means that you can practice the deadlift even in a Boost class.

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