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How To Do A Deadlift The Right Way From A Master Trainer

There are many exercises that walk the fine line between being highly effective and potentially dangerous. One exercise that walks this line is the Deadlift. This short article will go over the following:

  • Benefits of this exercise.
  • Different variations of the Deadlift using a variety of equipment.
  • A detailed description of how to properly perform one of its most popular variations (the Barbell “Conventional Style” Deadlift).
  • The most common form errors of the Conventional Deadlift



  • The Deadlift is an exercise that has functional carryover regarding daily activities. For example, most people (if not everyone) occasionally have to pick up something heavy off of the floor. It’s a great exercise that mimics this movement, and by doing it correctly, it can increase strength and give people better awareness of where their body should be positioned while doing it.   
  • The exercise is a multi-joint (more than one joint has to move) movement that stimulates the majority of muscles in the body. With the exception of the muscles in the neck, every muscle has to work while doing this exercise.  
  • Because the exercise stimulates nearly every muscle in the body, it burns more calories than most. It is a very important exercise for people to include if fat loss is a goal.
  • This is a great exercise to include if increased strength is a goal. Whether a person is doing low reps (1–5) with heavy resistance or high reps (20+) with lower resistance, the deadlift is one of the best exercises to apply the “Progressive Overload” principle to (forcing your body to adapt to additional weight to increase strength and performance). 
  • It targets “Vanity Muscles.” Most people (guys and gals) want their butt and hamstrings to look better. The Deadlift stimulates those muscles better than most exercises.
  • The Deadlift is a prerequisite exercise to Olympic Lifts. With the popularity of Cross Fit–style exercise programs (Alpha is offered at LT clubs) on the rise, the demand for Olympic Lifts like the Power Clean, Hang Clean, Snatch, etc. has increased. The Barbell Deadlift is a great exercise to start with to build strength for those exercises.
  • It can be done almost anywhere. Most gyms and clubs, like Life Time, have Barbells, Dumbbells and Kettlebells, so it can be done in most fitness settings. Plus, Barbells and Weight Plates are pretty inexpensive for people who have or want to build home gyms.
  • Based on the examples above, it is obvious fitness enthusiasts should consider including the Deadlift in their fitness programs.



Image 1

  1. Place the appropriate weight on the Barbell. For most people, at least 10-lb. Olympic Plates should be used as they are larger in diameter and allow the bar to be higher from the floor in the starting position.
  2. Walk up to the center of the Barbell and place your feet shoulder width apart with your shins very close to the bar.
  3. Bend your hip and knee joints simultaneously by sitting down and back, grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip, and make sure your hands are evenly spaced.
  4. Make sure your back is in a straight line and your head is in a neutral position while gripping the bar.
  5. Inhale and lift the bar off the floor by simultaneously extending your hip and knee joints while keeping your back straight and neck neutral.
  6. Sit down and back in a controlled manner by bending your hip and knee joints simultaneously until the bar touches the floor.
  7. Exhale and repeat steps 3–6 until the number of reps you want to perform is achieved. Optional: You can hold the bar with the palms of your hands facing back or you can use a mixed grip (one hand facing forward and the other facing back).

Image 2


Here are two common form breakdowns of the Deadlift as shown in the GIFs: 

  • Image 1: DO NOT let your back round at any point or time during the movement. Make sure your back is always in a straight line (it will look like a yardstick can be placed on your back) during the entire exercise.
  • Image 2: Don’t overextend your neck. Pick a spot on the floor about 2 to 3 feet in front of the bar and focus on that spot at all times while doing the exercise. 


Below is a table that shows some Deadlift variations with different equipment that is offered in commercial or home gyms:


If you have further questions, feel free to email us at, or ask a Life Time Trainer at your club. Also, if you found this article useful, please share it, and feel free to ask us if there are additional exercises that you would like written about in detail in future articles.


In health, Corey Grenz — Program Specialist and Master Trainer — Life Time, Chanhassen 


This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader. 

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