A baby appears to be preparing to perform a trap bar deadlift

Deadlifting 101 – Learn How to Pull like a Pro

A female lifter initiating a leg exercise to build strength and burn fat.

A powerlifter performing a sumo deadlift.

The deadlift – Commonly known as the king of full-body movements, it is (relatively) simple to execute, while providing a tremendous growth stimulus in terms of any and all training goals, from losing body fat to increasing muscle size, to getting brutally strong. Don’t confuse it for just a leg exercise; all of that weight is anchored by your hands, your arms, your upper back, and your core (abdominals, obliques, low back). A properly executed deadlift will work just about every single posterior muscle in your body, and will awaken a primal sense of power and animalism in the lifter.

However, properly executing a deadlift isn’t quite as simple as walking up to the bar and picking it up. Proper technique, from start to finish, will not only ensure the most weight possible, but with the most safety possible as well. Enjoy!

Standing upright, set your lifters wedge down and back (don’t shrug, which increases the distance the bar has to travel to reach lockout – think of putting your arm pits in your back pockets). Keeping your rib cage pulled down, fill your belly full of air and brace as if you’re going to get punched in the stomach. Keeping your hips high, grab on, making sure to keep your wedge as tight as possible through the entire setup and pull.

Make sure your belly is still full of air and tightly braced, and dip your ass down so that your chest comes up to the point that someone across the room can read the logo on your shirt (if your chest is facing the floor you’re doing it wrong). Waste NO time hanging out down in your tight pull position because if you’ve done everything right so far, it leaks valuable energy every moment you spend down here. Immediately drive your heels into the ground with all of your might while simultaneously driving your chest/head up and back. Once the bar reaches the knees, think “hump the bar” – simply drive your hips forward to meet the bar at your lockout.

Image split in two horizontally, demonstrating first and last step to sumo deadlifting.

Left to right: initial setup, lockout.

Keeping your wedge tight and dipping your hips down right before the moment you pull will ensure you keep the slack pulled out of the bar….when pulling big weight, you don’t want the bar sitting loose inside the plates, you need it pulled tightly into the top of them. If everything goes right, you come up in a smooth straight line without allowing your hips to come up before your chest (hence the que “lead with your head/chest”).

To lower the bar, simply reverse your movement. Shoot your butt back behind you, then bend your knees, still with a tightly braced core, and lower the bar back to the ground. Rinse and repeat!