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Show Up Fitness: How to Deadlift

Jan 28, 2017


How to Deadlift

How to do a Deadlift with Variations & Bad For

Deadlifting for the general person:

The Deadlift is one of the most popular exercises. It’s one of the three power lifts (the other two are Squats and Bench Press.) The pattern of movement is referred to as a hinge (look at a door and analyze the hinges, that’s how it got the reference.) These brackets allow the door to sway back and forth in one direction. When performed properly, the glutes, hamstrings, low back, and back are lifting the weight off the ground. It’s one of the best booty and hamstring building exercises behind the Hip Thrust. If you want to develop a booty that can bounce a bowling ball 5-feet in the air, you need to learn how to properly Deadlift.


Form: If your goals are to develop speed, explosive power, strength and an awesome backside, the Deadlift should be implemented 1-3x weekly. Before you start picking up a bunch of weight off the floor, your form needs to be pristine. Common mistakes are seen by Squatting and not hinging, rounding the lower back, the bar path is not close to the body, not maintaining an upright torso, and leaning too far back (hyperextension). At Show Up Fitness, I Miyagi the hell out of our clients by constantly stressing the hinge pattern: Golfers pick-up, band Deadlifts, Bent-Over Rows, and Hip Thrusts. I want you to be able to pick up 1.5x-2x your body weight without having to rehearse all the checkpoints, I want them to be second nature. I don’t suggest doing more than 6-8 reps per set- OWN EACH REP. If implemented properly (with amazing form, and heavy weights), you’ll notice changes in your booty and strength within a few months.

For proper instruction on how to Deadlift, skip the next section and watch the video, then implement the program at the end.

Deadlifting for the Personal Trainer:

The concentric action for the Deadlift at the hip is extension, which makes the Glutes the agonist at the hip and the Quadriceps at the knee (Vastus Lateralis, Intermedius, Medialis, and Rectus Femoris). The Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus, and Bicep Femoris (long and short head) are synergists and the deep abdominal stabilizers brace the core (transverse abdominals). The femoral action is extension (Gluteals), therefore the flexors are the antagonists (Psoas Major / Hip Flexors.)

To properly execute a Deadlift, the shoulders should be slightly over the bar, with the weight focused posteriorly by engaging the Lats. Make sure to lock yourself into the bar by pulling it to the shins and internally rotating the Lats – TURN THOSE KNUCKLES WHITE BY SQUEEZING! You can also try cueing, “put your scapulae’s into your back pockets.” The neck should be neutral as if your client is holding an orange under his/her chin. As the trainer, you’ll see the following mistakes: 1- The client sets up in a Squat position (look at the angle of their shins; vertical is a Deadlift, a 45-degree angle is a Squat. Don't let them Squat the Deadlift, 2- Their shoulders come too far over the bar – their torso looks parallel to the floor like an RDL, 3- The hips shoot up faster than the knees aka stripper Deadlift (this sounds good, but it's not), 4- Hyperextension instead of a posterior pelvic tilt, 5- Improper breathing mechanics. Make sure they understand the purpose of a large, deep breath to brace the core, 6- Rounded lower back. Once the spinal column loses its integrity and goes from three to two curves, force is directed in the lumbar region.

If you look like the following girl, congratulations, you're Squatting the Deadlift. There's no fear becoming “Quadzilla” from Deadlifts as the exercise is hip dominant.



There are numerous variations to the conventional Deadlifts- this can be good and bad. It's like teaching someone how to cook, they want to try every recipe in the world! Not so fast Chef Boyardee, I want you to own the mechanics of the hinge pattern before you start trying the variations (Miyagi the hell out of your clients!) This will take a few months to properly program in the proper motor control. After you're deadlifting at least your body weight (ideally 1.5x), you can begin to play around with the variations. Here's a list from beginner to more advanced:


Kettle Bell

Trap Bar


Rack Pulls






Jefferson (1-leg over / behind bar)

Banded / Chain's

Single Leg Deadlifts (love these to strengthen the glute med & prevent valgus)

Hack (Bar behind body)

Windmill – Checkout this video at

Hands on Weights (Wide stance / further than a Snatch, your hands are holding the rubber plates)

How to Spot the Deadlift:

NO SPOTTING- don't be that weirdo perving out on a client by spotting a Deadlift. This is one of the few exercises that you do not spot. Teach your client to drop the weight in the case of an emergency.

A belt should be worn when the client is lifting 80% of their 1rm. Dependency on a belt could make the clients lower back vulnerable. The same goes with wrist wraps. If your grip is one of the first things to give out, implement 60-second Pull-Up hangs and Farmers Walks. These are tools to help your 1rm, don’t use them as crutches. You're only as strong as your weakest link. Listen to your body and train the weak segments.

Deadlifting Workout:

1- Deadlift / Trap Bar (Beginners) 5 sets of 6-8 reps resting 2-3-minutes (If you’re a beginner, perform 3 sets of 8-10. There's no need to perform more than 8-10 reps. OWN THE MECHANICS TO INSTILL PROPER FORM, the likelihood of performing bad reps after 10 increase chances for injury.)

2- Kettle Bell Deadlift into Straight Legged Deadlift (RDL's) 3 sets of 12 reps

3- Windmill Deadlift (See Article that I wrote for 3 sets of 10

4- Band Deadlifts as seen in beginning of Youtube tutorial 1 set of 30 AMRAP (Choose a weight that you think that you can do for 30 reps and then do As Many Reps As Possible)

Hip Thrusts are a great compliment to owning the Hinge pattern.

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Interested in becoming a personal trainer? The time is NOW to SHOW UP! Chris teaches a 4-month personal training course which will prepare you to take the NSCA, ACSM, or NASM certification. Unlike other schools, the Academy allows you to train real people. You’ll be able to enroll in an internship at Show Up Fitness and start getting your reps in training clients at Show Up Fitness. The Academy is located in Santa Monica. Chris has graduated over 700-personal trainers and will teach you how to become the most successful personal trainer with his background in Kinesiology and owning two successful personal training gyms.

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