3 Killer Deadlift Mistakes

The deadlift.  So simple.  So not easy.  Yeah it looks simple but when you get into the nitty gritty the deadlift can be as complex as you want it to be.  Let’s take a look at 3 mistakes that are not only costing your poundage, but also risking injury.

1.) A Bad Setup is a Bad Foundation

Does your set up look like this:

If it does you need to stop.  In the words of Louis Simmons, “start the lift where you finish.”  You don’t finish the deadlift at the bottom.  If you’re starting your deadlift by bending over, you can’t stabilize your spine, you can’t load the right musculature and you can’t generate the explosiveness you need to finish a heavy lift.
Oh, and that “pulling” your back tight thing you’re doing?  You’re just overextending your lumbopelvic junction.  Ever wonder how I can guess people get diagnosed with L5/S1 dysfunction?  I watch them deadlift like that.The Fix: Like Louis says, “Start where you finish.”  Set up at the top.  Squeeze your butt, pull your ribcage down, and load your hips by sending them backwards.  You want to ensure you feel confident and set up properly, but don’t spend a moment more than necessary in the bottom of the deadlift.

2.) Pry! Don’t Yank.

Imagine for a second you’re going to pull a car by a rope.  Which would you form of this rope would you rather use:

Obviously the second.  Why?  Because it’s going to transmit the force you’re producing more effectively.  Well the same thing goes for a deadlift.  Before you begin your deadlift, you need to make sure you’re “pulling the slack out of the bar.”When you yank on the bar I almost guarantee you the inertia of the bar will win. The result?  You get pulled into a bad position.  When you’re in a bad position you’re just simply ineffective.

The Fix: Don’t go from 0-100mph in an instant.  When you grab the bar (after your top down set up) think about prying the bar off the floor instead of trying to explode the bar off.  Think about reving your engine up to 60mph; then when the bar begins to bend or at least clicks, then add that extra bit of turbo to get the bar moving.

3.) Finish Strong!

Do you know what your glutes are designed to do?   They are designed to push you forward.  Look at the difference in this Sprinter and this High Jumper.

Both explosive sports, both body weight only.  But look at the definition in the glutes of the sprinter.  Why are here’s so much stronger?  Because the Sprinter moves forward.  The High Jumper moves up.  Guess which one needs her glutes more?

If you’re not using your hips to DRIVE FORWARD into the bar than you’re not using your hips at all.The Fix: When the bar gets past your knees, you should be trying to drive your hips forward into the bar.  Not swing your shoulders back and bring the bar to your hips.  If you stall a deadlift at your knees, it’s because you’re not using your butt.

The deadlift is arguably the most functional movement around; but it can also be rough on the body when performed improperly.  If you’re making these mistakes you’re costing yourself lbs and leaving yourself at risk.