The Official Deadlift Checklist (AVOID MISTAKES!)

The Official Deadlift Checklist (AVOID MISTAKES!)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. We’re talking deadlift today. One of the best exercises you can do if you
do it right. So we’re breaking out the checklist so we
can break this down step by step and make sure that you do. Okay, any good deadlift starts with how you
prepare your body to do it before you even do the exercise. So a couple things that I do: there’s two
considerations here. Number one: you’ve got to have the feeling
that you could actually get to this bar and do this exercise properly. So what I do is a quick, little routine to
feel nice, and loose. I put my feet up, against the insides of the
plates, and I use them to stretch out my adductors in my groin because we know if you’re going
to be driving your knees out – as you should be, as you’ll see when you press this bar
off the ground, and pull it off the ground – I say ‘press’. That’s the key difference, too. You’re going to want to make sure that you
have adequate flexibility here through your adductors. The next thing I do is, I feel as if I want
to keep my hamstrings engaged, and I also want to have my pelvis in the right position. So I lean forward where to grab the bar, and
I try to get myself into an anterior pelvic tilt. So I’m trying to rotate my pelvis all the
way down until it’s facing the ground. All the way down. Point your junk down to the ground, keep your
hands on the bar, and then keep your head up. Look straight ahead and just feel the stretch
in your hamstrings, and feel the stretch here in all those attachments to your pelvis that
we know we feel like we’re in that good position. Once I do that – just for a couple minutes
until I feel nice, and loose – the next thing I’ll do is this pre-deadlift movement
pattern. That is, I stand here, I keep my hands on
my thighs – you’re going to see why this is very important in a second – and I let
them slide down until the level of the knees, by doing nothing but hip hinging. If you just did what I showed you that hip
hinge should feel really easy now. So right down to here, no bending the knees. From here, once I get to the level of the
knees, then maintaining this low back, I just let my hands drop straight down by bending
nothing but the knees. Then I work on going back up and feeling the
first few inches of this to be nothing but let press as I get to the level of the knees,
and then driving through with nothing but the hips. So it’s hip hinge to the level of the knees,
drop the knees down, push through the knees, hip hinge, and finish it all the way here,
through extension. Just use that movement pattern until you feel
as if you’ve got it down, and then you’re ready to start lifting the bar. Now we’re ready to actually approach the bar. There is something you want to focus on here. There are actually two things you want to
focus on. First of all, how far under the bar are your
feet going to go? And how far apart should your feet be? First of all, let’s deal with the easy one. The width of your feet should be the width
of your hips. Now, for someone that doesn’t have a really
wide physique like me, that could be pretty narrow. You see mine. I’m actually inside the non-knurled areas
of the bar, here. For you, that could be a little bit wider,
but it doesn’t matter. You just want to be hip width. As far as ‘how far under the bar the feet
should actually go’, there’s a little cue I like to use here. I want to just see my laces on the other side
of the bar. So you can see right now I can’t. My laces are actually being covered by the
bar. If I sneak them out, just to the other side
here, now I’ve actually setup the right position for this bar. Which should be about 1″ away from my shin
because when I go down to the bar my shins will go forward to meet that bar, and that
is the proper position. Now, a lot of people will try to roll the
bar away, and then roll it back. That’s sort of a pre-lift ritual, but ultimately
what they’re doing is they’re getting that bar back to that position, and they’re using
the experience that they have, and being comfortable with moving the bar to get it there, ultimately,
in the right position. If you’re new and you’re just learning this
exercise; take one of those variables out. Get set to the bar and don’t change anything
else. Get yourself about 1″ away, get ready to perform
the lift, and just go ahead and do it. Okay now, with the feet in the proper place,
now we’ve got to get the hands in the proper placement. There are two elements I want to cover here. It is the type of grip that we’re going to
use – because we’ve probably seen a lot of different grips being used on this exercise
– as well as the width of your hands on the bar when you perform the lift. So first of all, let’s talk about the type. You have three different options here when
it comes to how you’re gripping the bar. Most commonly, you probably see this ‘double
overhand grip’. There’s a great advantage to this that we’re
going to get into when we actually talk about performing the lift, but at the surface level
here, this is giving you the most balanced distribution of your upper body, and how you’re
gripping the bar so you don’t create muscle imbalances by gripping the bar. The second option that you’ll see is often
the choice when you feel as if this is too weak of a grip, because the bar starts to
roll out of your hands. So what do we do? We see people do a mixed grip. The mixed grip is one under, one over. The one under and one over allows the bar
to stop rotating, because as it starts to fall out of this hand, it’s actually turning
more into this hand. So you’re creating more stability. It’s the same way you would grab a baseball
bat. Your dominant hand would be on the top here,
and the underhand, you just take that baseball bat, and turn it. That’s what you’re doing here, on the bar. However, in order to eliminate some of the
muscular imbalances that could be created from doing this – especially up in your
shoulder girdle – you would want to alternate the grips here. So you have a third option. This is the option chosen by more of the advanced
lifters that perform this lift. That would be a hook grip where you take your
thumb, you wrap it around, and then you wrap your fingers over your thumb. So if you look at it here, they wrap their
fingers around that thumb. Now I’m going to tell you, if you’re going
to do this, number one: it’s going to be very uncomfortable. It’s going to feel like you’re snapping your
thumb off. But in order to alleviate that you want to
grip on that first digit here. That first knuckle right here. If you go on top here you’re really going
to feel like you’re snapping your thumb off. Okay, from here I still would advise – if
you’re going to do this, you’re going to want to build up to this by starting with lighter
weights, accommodating to this discomfort that you might feel on this the first time
you do it, and then over time, of course, your body is going to become resilient to
it. It will be, overall, your most effective grip,
your strongest grip, and it will also not lead to those imbalances that the mixed grip
would. Now as far as the width, and how wide I want
my hands on the bar, that actually brings up a point from the last topic. That is, a lot of people think that the mixed
grip is what is responsible for leading to bicep tears during the deadlift. A lot of people are scared about tearing a
bicep during a deadlift. More so, it actually comes from what you’re
doing with your arms, in terms of width, and I’ll show you why. First of all, people sometimes want to grab
the bar wide. But what you’re doing when you grab wide is,
you’re effectively shortening the length of your arms. If we know that – if I let my arms hang
straight down, right about the width of my hips, or just down at the side – they’re
as long as right here. To this point in my thigh. But if I widen them you can see that they
lift up, and I’ve just shortened them by about 2″, or 3″. So the shorter my arms become – because
I widen them out on the bar – the lower, and deeper I’m going to have to become on
every, single rep of the lift. And I’m not necessarily concerned about that
from the strength benefits, because that would be a good thing. I’m more concerned about the fact that most
of us don’t have the mobility to go those extra 2″, or 3″ down. So you’re causing yourself and increased likelihood
that you’re going to screw the lift up by going wider. So the ideal position here is to have your
hands just outside of those hip width feet. So just to the outside by about 1″. Now you want to have enough room here for
two reason. Number one: you don’t want to have your
hands dragging up the sides of your thighs, here. You want the bar dragging up your thighs,
but you don’t want your hands dragging up because the extra friction can make the exercise:
A) more uncomfortable than in could be, and B) just become a little more awkward. But more importantly, the tendency, as I said,
is when you start to push you’re going to want to have your legs pushing out. If your arms are too close, what happens is,
people will create an inadvertent elbow bend here, as they perform the lift. No matter if you’re doing it this way, or
you’re doing it this way with a mixed grip you might get some flexion here of the elbow
as you perform the lift, which places a high degree of unnecessary tension on the bicep. That is what, more often, leads to the ruptures
of what you see happening in the biceps. The same thing would apply if I were to go
do a dead hang on a pullup bar. I could hold there for a very long period
of time, but if you wanted me to do a flex-arm hang that time would be cut drastically. So we can actually become more efficient by
just letting the arms hang straight down, keep the tension all the way through here. Even though it’s more elongated it’s less
likely to tear in this position because it’s a more stable position. Okay, we’ve got the feet in place, we’ve got
the hands in place, and now we’ve got to get our body in place. If you’ve followed what I’ve said to this
point, as you lower yourself to the ground, if your feet are the proper distance away
from the bar your shins will make contact with that bar. Now your grip, as you said – we’ve talked
about – and from here the only goal you should have is to get your low back in the
right position to execute this lift because when people talk about the dangers of this
lift it’s because they’re doing it with the wrong positioning of the low back, which can
cause a lumbar disc issue if you don’t do it right. So from here you only have two cues. You’ve got to drive your chest forward, up,
and out, and you want to drive your hips down. So from here the chest goes out, hips go down. What you’ll also find is that your arms will
get the lats activating to actually pull you into that position. Think about doing a straight-arm push down. You’re literally doing that straight-arm pushdown,
which will bring the bar further in contact with your shins, chest goes out, hips go down,
and I’m ready to rock and roll. Now the key, as I’ve said, the position of
the low back being flat. You don’t want that rounded low back. Don’t worry about how angled your torso
is to the ground. As long as the low back is in the right position. You may see people that are really far bent
over like this, here, or people that are more upright. That’s a factor of their leg length and torso
length; whatever is right for you. As long as your low back is there, then you
know you’re in the right spot. So now, when we get ready to actually pull,
guys – this is why I call this a leg exercise’. And it had better be a leg exercise first
if you want to avoid all the problems with your low back that you could potentially run
into with this exercise. It has to start with a push of your legs off
the ground until your hands are at the level of the knee. So if you go back to that warmup that I was
showing you, grooving that pattern; that’s exactly what you’re trying to do. I’m going to show you why, here. I’m going to break this down into, literally,
two parts. From the ground to the knee, and then from
the knee, up. So now when we get in this position here,
what you want to do – once that chest is out, and those arms are engaged, and the low
back is down – what you’re trying to do here is do a standing leg press. I’ll show you exactly why this is exactly
a leg exercise. You’re going ‘standing leg press’ from here,
to here. Here, to here. Right from your hands, from there, from the
floor, to the knee. Once they get to the knee, that’s when the
hips will start to kick in. Then this will become a tremendous back exercise. But from here, to here you’re doing all the
initiation with a push of your legs, into the ground, as hard as you possibly can. I talk about, all the time, why this is a
standing leg press because the mechanics are the exact same. If my hands were down here on the handles,
and my feet were on the plate, and I push away; all that is happening right there, from
the legs. I do not bring my body closer to my thighs
in order to feel like I’m pushing. I take my feet and I push them away. So the same thing would apply here. You’re not going to bring your body closer
to your thighs here because what that does is, it lifts with the hips. The first move is hip. The first move is hip. Lifting with the hips throws your low back
into a rounded position. Which, again, is asking, and begging for a
lumbar disc issue. This is an incredibly safe exercise. One of the best exercises you can do, but
you have to get this part right. So again, when we’re in here the position
is down, chest out, hands in, here, we’re going to do a leg press, straight to here. Down. Leg press, straight to here. I’m going to show you what happens to the
bar once it reaches that level of the knees. So now, if we can get that bar to the knees
we want to make sure that it’s dragging up those shins every inch of the way, staying
in contact. If you start to see space between the bar
and you it’s likely that you’re not doing what I said before, which is keeping that
lat engaged. Keeping that straight-arm pushdown going to
keep the bar close. It’s going to keep your whole upper torso
tight, and stable also. So now when it gets to the level of the knees
right here, by using just the legs to power it up, now we let the whole rest of the back
kick in. Now it becomes an incredible back exercise,
and a posterior chain exercise as we drive through, using the strong muscles of the hips,
and our low back extensors, and our traps to stabilize the bar. So we’re going from here, and driving through. You’ll notice if you do this right the timing
is simple because you’re using your knees as the visual cue of when to kick this in. As soon as your hands are at the level of
the knees, boom! The hips kick in and the bar will continue
to travel up, in that efficient, straight path. So right against your shins, and right against
your thighs. That should be the goal on every, single rep. So it looks like this. From here, down, set up, to here, drive through
with the hips. Here, engaged, drive through with the hips. Now, on the way down you want to reverse the
motion. Hip hinge, hip hinge, hip hinge. Right to the level of the knee, straight knee
bend. Very simple. So we’re up here, down, and then on the way
down hip hinge, hip hinge, hip hinge to the level of the knee, then let the knees bend,
come straight down. You’ll see that the back stays right in the
position you need it to be. Guys, this lift has a lot of components to
it, but when you put them all together it’s actually very, very simple. It should become a staple of your training
for many, many reasons. Most of which, it’s one of the best total
body exercises. Yes, you’re training the legs. Most importantly, if you’re training legs
because it sets up the safety of the entire rest of the lift. And of course, a posterior chain. Overall, awesome exercise. There’s none better than this. Guys, it’s not the exercise. You can tell people “I’m deadlifting.” And you think you’re doing things right. It’s doing the exercise right that matters
the most. Actually, in this case doing the exercise
wrong could actually lead to an injury that will keep you way from the gym for a long,
long time. I don’t want to see that happen to you. I want to make sure you get these all right. I hope you’ve found this checklist exhaustive,
but very, very helpful. If you want me to cover more of them I’m happy
to do that in future videos. Just leave your comments down below and let
me know. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a program
that cares – not just what exercises we do, but more importantly how we do them – head
to ATHLEANX.com. Use our program selector, using the link below
this video to find a program of mine that is best suited to your current goals. All right, guys. I’ll be back here again for a future video. See you.

100 Replies to “The Official Deadlift Checklist (AVOID MISTAKES!)”

  1. Want to win an ATHLEAN-X program for free, no strings attached? Click the link below to find out how!

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  2. Thank you so much sir….♥️♥️♥️ I used to do the deadlift at the wrong way…. But you solved my problem 🙏🏻🙏🏻😘😘 Now I will start with your form 😊😊😊

  3. Can't get my head around the people who disliked the video. Like seriously? How can anyone dislike his videos??

  4. Yike! This is pure gold. Excellent coaching (the only thing I missed from this was an explanation of why the knees move laterally on lift)

  5. It's amazing how much detail you go into when explaining something!! You explain the fuck outta things, you don't leave any details out!! you are THE BEST trainer I've seen so far!! much respect to you man!!!!!! seriously, I have a lot of respect for you.

  6. how do i keep the bar from scraping my shins to the point i get slight scabs? am i really suppose to "drag" the bar against the shin?

  7. I love this video but The hip hinge to knee bending part of the video is filmed on 45 degree.. it would be really helpful to have seen him from the side to see how much knee bend is normal

  8. Honestly I’ve learned so much for free from Jeff it’s amazing. 18 months ago I thought I had all the answers, but the truth is you can never learn enough. Always learning is the key. I laugh at how inexperienced I was In the gym 12-18 months ago compared to these days, so thanks Jeff. Helped me out massively.

  9. I can bet my ass that there is no better video on any media which explains deadlift as much as Jeff did in this video. Respect of highest order to you Jeff!

  10. 100% recommend your videos because you explain the science and importance of every step. You never see athlean-x doing and exercise "just because you get gainz". Appreciate the knowledge please keep it up. Low key you should break down every single lift like you did this one and the views will follow.

  11. I have actually shied away from this exercise because of many people I know hurting themselves one way or another. Thank you Jeff. I feel very confident to implement this slowly and carefully ofcourse.

  12. Jeff, thank you!!!! This is the best explanation of how to properly deadlift I have ever seen! I wished this step-by-step form had been explained to me 25 years ago as you have just explained. I used to be a powerlifter from my teens through my late 20's, but my deadlift form was awful and eventually lead to a lower back injury. My coach was also a physical therapist and tried his best to explain deadlift form to me but seeing the visual here was the exact detail that I needed to finally understand. I am getting back into training again and will definitely practice this form to prevent injury going forward. Thanks again for the video. This is a goldmine!!!!

  13. Awesome technique video. Where have you been all my life Jeff. I learned this the hard way by blowing my back out years ago.. Still paying for it today as have to be extra strict on my dead lifts and funny enough squats. You can't go wrong if you take all this on board guy's.. GG

  14. I don’t know how you guys think that under hand over hand is helpful. It’s not right. Your hands need to be even to do it right.

  15. Wish I would've watch this earlier today. I was trying to sumo deadlift with only 95lbs (warm up weight since I haven't dl in long time) on the way up I felt something shift and I saw stars followed by pain.. my first thoughts were, "shit I knew I should've watched Jeff's video on how to properly deadlift as a refresher". Oh well.

  16. Hey Jeff, can you please please PLEASE make a video on whether it's a good idea to perform a deadlift on a Smith machine (and if so, how to do it properly)? I believe I am speaking for millions of people, many of whom are Planet Fitness patrons.

  17. A few points not mentioned: (1)when you get into ready position, you want your hips as high as possible without breaking form, ie, don't unnecessarily drop your hips; (2) you will notice as the weight gets heavy that "spreading the floor" with your feet helps maintain stability and close energy leaks; (3)don't "crane the neck", keep a neutral spine throughout, however keeping your chin tucked inward/backward can help a tiny bit with posture. Like Jeff says, make sure you are engaging your lats, it really makes a difference!

  18. Here's the real question : how do you stop the bar from hitting your cock and crushing your balls on every rep? I am traumatized by the deadlift because of the pain there, not in the lower back…

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