How to Deadlift with a Barbell: 5 Tips for Beginners


I guess you already know that deadlift, along with bench press and back squats, is the basis of bodybuilding.

This seemingly simple exercise has a lot of modifications and subtleties. 

In today’s post, I want to talk about how to deadlift with a barbell, the correct execution technique of the exercise as well as common mistakes that most people do when performing a deadlift and some tips for performing the deadlift for beginners.

Why Deadlift is so Important in Bodybuilding?

The deadlift is the most important of the five basic strength exercises because it causes the growth of 3/4 muscles in your body.

It is a compound multi-joint exercise, usually performed with a barbell, as well as with a dumbbell or a kettlebell, held between the legs with both hands.

Unfortunately, most athletes neglect to perform the deadlift with a barbell, considering it technically difficult exercise.

Moreover, this is one of the exercises that couldn’t be simplified or replaced with another exercise.

The only lightweight option is the deadlift performed with dumbbells, but from a technical point of view, this variation requires more attention to the execution technique than the usual deadlift with a barbell.

Recommended Read: Best Dumbbell Set for Home Gym – Don’t Buy Until You Read This!

The Benefits of the Deadlift Exercise

Total-Body Workout

The greatest benefit of the deadlift is that, with the proper and correct execution technique, it works on literally every muscle in the body: from the muscles of the back of the legs, buttocks, lower back, rectus and lateral muscles of the press, to the muscles of the shoulders and arms.

In addition, the deadlift targets specifically the muscles of the buttocks and the back of the hips, improving their flexibility.

Stimulates Muscle Growth

Another benefit of deadlift also lies in the fact that it provokes a powerful hormonal response of the body, especially when performing with high weight and a low number of repetitions.

This exercise sharply increases both the level of production of the hormone testosterone and growth hormone and positively affects the work of the heart, forcing it to pump more blood.

Positively Affects the Nervous System

In addition, when performed with heavy loads, deadlift also strengthens the central nervous system.

Types of Deadlift Exercise

There are different variations of deadlift exercises like Romanian, Sumo, Stiff-Ledged, Jefferson Deadlift, Hex or Trap Bar Deadlift, Snatch Grip Deadlift, Deficit Deadlift, etc. 


How to Deadlift With a Barbell


For the purpose of this article, we will be discussing the classic deadlift as this type is recommended for beginners to start off. 

Execution Technique

Prepare for the Exercise

A deadlift is always performed after preliminary cardio and muscle warm-ups. This helps to prevent joint injuries and traumas. 

The Initial Position

Standing upright, the legs are spread narrowly (that is, the width of the hips, not the shoulders), the feet are slightly deployed to the sides.

Tip: To more accurately determine the width of your feet, hang on the crossbar, after a couple of seconds, relax and jump carefully and look at the heels: this is the optimal distance between them.

The barbell is located on the floor, its bar runs in the center of the foot (in the center of the entire foot, and not just its upper part), being as close to the foot itself. Hands-on the bar is a narrow grip and touches the knees.

Go down in a movement similar to squats with a barbell (that is, take your pelvis back while straightening your back) and take the barbell so that the knees are inside the arms (the distance between the palms should be about 40 cm).

The joints of the hands should be as straight as possible, and the elbows should be fixed. The classic deadlift implies a usual grip, in which the palms look down. 

Concentrate and try to feel the tension of the key muscle groups. A straightened back will make the back of the hips, abdominal muscles, and core muscles work.

Put your chest forward a little, while looking straight down – try not to turn your head to the side, checking the correct position in the mirror (this is one of the most common causes of pain in the neck).

Check out if Your Position is Correct

Before doing a deadlift itself, it is important to ensure that the starting position is perfectly correct. For this, check the position of the feet and the proximity of the bar to the legs.

I would suggest developing the habit of checking the correct position by the lacing on your shoes.


How to Deadlift With a Barbell


In addition, do not lower your squat too low and do not bring your knees out of the line of socks.

At the same time, the shoulders should slightly go forward beyond the line of the bar. Imagine that the shoulder blades seem to cover the bar. This will help to evenly load the shoulder joint and avoid its overload.


How to Deadlift With a Barbell


The head and neck should be in the most neutral position, the gaze should be directed in front of you and slightly down. Once again, it is important to try not to look in the mirror and not to twist your head.

Upward Movement

Without swaying or transferring body weight to socks, push your chest forward and go up while holding the barbell as close to your legs as possible.

In the first phase of the movement of the deadlift (that is when lifting the bar to the knees), the front thighs are involved in the work, in the second phase (when the body is straightened), the back thigh actively work. The back remains straight (for this, mentally take the pelvis back).

In the second phase of the deadlift movement, it is especially important to try using the muscles of the buttocks and the back of the thighs, while pushing the pelvis forward, and not try to pull the weight of the barbell due to the strength of the lower back.

At the top point, do not perform shrugs with your shoulders or other unnecessary movements. Just tighten the body muscles, lift the weight and freeze for a couple of seconds.

Downward Movement

Remember that the technique of lowering the weight in the deadlift does not begin at all with bending the knees, but with pulling the hips back.

This will help clear the way for the barbell, not allowing it to touch the knees. Lower the barbell in this way to the position of the kneecaps, and only then begin to bend the knees themselves. Make sure to lower yourself as you exhale and without losing control of muscle tension in the body.


How to Deadlift With a Barbell


When moving down, the spine should be in a neutral position. Do not let the lower back bend either up or down. In addition, do not transfer the weight of the barbell on the arms and shoulders. This will create a serious risk of joint injury.

Among other things, let’s remind once again that your gaze should not drop to your feet – this will break down the balance. If you feel that it is difficult for you to follow the technique, I would suggest reducing the working weight.

2 Mistakes to Avoid When Performing the Deadlift

The most common mistake of the deadlift technique is the back deflection when lifting the barbell from the floor, which completely changes the mechanics of the exercise’s movement.

As a result, a person is trying to lift the weight of the barbell with the strength of the muscles of the arms and shoulder girdle, and not at all due to the muscles of the core and the back of the thighs.

It is extremely important to ensure that during the deadlift, the back is straight and the chest looks forward.


How to Deadlift With a Barbell


Another serious mistake is straining the back muscles or shrugging the shoulders, that contradicts the correct execution technique.

The deadlift clearly indicates that you must freeze at the top point. The only movement that is permissible is to push the chest forward, but without trying to connect the shoulder blades together or additionally strain them.

5 Tips For Performing a Deadlift for Beginners 

#1. Use a Stand 

It is usually difficult for beginners to lift the barbell directly from the floor. The reason is both the lack of flexibility of the body and the fact that the smaller the working weight, the smaller is the diameter of the weight plates and the lower the bar.

Keep in mind that if you do not use a 20-kilogram weight plate with a large diameter, it is better to perform deadlift from the stand (or putting 5 kg weight plates for the height under the main weight plates).

#2. Constantly Control Your Back Position

Among other things, it is extremely important for a beginner to ensure that the lower back is constantly in a neutral position.

Remember that bending your back up (just like trying to control yourself in the mirror) is the easiest way to get injured.

This remark is especially relevant when performing deadlifts for women, as they tend to bend their backs not only in the downward movement but also in the upward movement too.

#3. Use Normal Grip

The deadlift can be performed with a wide, medium and narrow grip, as well as a parallel, straight or mixed grip when one palm looks up and the other down.

However, for beginners, it is better to use first the usual grip and adequate weights, learning and honing the correct technique – and only then move on to the variations.

In order to avoid injuries in your back or arm muscles when performing the deadlift, always do it only with a direct grip.

#4. The Use of Weight Lifting Belts & Gloves

Weight lifting belts really help to lift more weight than the arms can hold. However, it is important to remember that you are not in competition.

Ultimately, in the deadlift, it is not just the weight of the working weight that matters, but the ideal execution technique of the exercise.

That is why the use of weight lifting belts is welcomed more for advanced and professional athletes, rather than for beginners.

If you want to protect your palms from blisters and calluses, you may want to use weight lifting gloves.

Recommended Read:

12 Best Weight Lifting Belts For Men – 2019 Review

12 Best Weight Lifting Gloves For Men – 2019 Review

#5. Shoes are Extremely Important

Sports shoes with a gel or air cushion (typical running sneakers) are categorically not suitable for the deadlift, as it creates unnecessary cushioning.

Sneakers or any other flat shoes are much preferable because it allows you to maintain balance and prevent overloads that lead to back pain.

If you want to learn more about how to correctly chose a pair of shoes for weightlifting workouts, check out out my  12 Sports Shoes For Men – Best of 2019 Review

The Bottom Line

The deadlift is the number one exercise that stimulates the growth of the maximum number of muscles in your body. 

It is especially important for beginners to include this exercise in the training program while trying to learn and follow the correct execution technique and also learning to feel the work of muscles.

I wouldn’t suggest hurrying on increasing the working weight because this may cause different injuries and thus is definitely not what you want. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and now, you know better how to deadlift with a barbell.

If you have any questions or thoughts about the above aspects, or you have something to add or share your story, please leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you asap.

If you liked this article and think it might be useful for someone else too, please share it with your friends and family through social media channels.

All the best,

Ionut Voicu

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