If you don’t follow Jeremy Ethier, you should subscribe now! We love the level of detail his videos have with animations, graphic overlays and good references to academic research.
In this video Jeremy shows how to do the perfect deadlift, avoiding all the common errors that can cause back injuries.
How to Perform the Deadlift for Growth (5 Mistakes You’re Probably Making) Transcription
00:00 Speaker 1: If you’re seeking to add upper back thickness, accentuate your V Taper and build a powerful looking back side, then deadlifts should definitely be a staple in your routine as it’s one of the best compound exercises to help develop the several muscles that make up your posterior chain. And as shown in this 2011 study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, not only does a deadlift enable you to lift more weight when compared to any other free weights exercise, but research also indicates that it’s an effective tool to use for improving explosive strength and vertical jump performance, making it an all-around effective exercise for size, strength, and athleticism, that should definitely be incorporated into your routine.
00:44 S1: However, despite the seemingly straightforward movement pattern of the deadlift, if you want to maximize its effectiveness while reducing your risk of injury, then there’s a lot more that goes into it than simply picking a weight up off the floor. And chances are, if you haven’t been coached well on how to properly perform the deadlift, then there’s a high probability that you’re making a mistake or two. For example, if you can’t spot at least two of the mistakes I’m making here, then chances are, you’re likely doing one of them. Therefore, in this video, I cover the five most common errors people make with a deadlift and more importantly, I’ll show you how to easily fix them right away.
01:22 S1: One of the most common errors people make with the deadlift is essentially turning it into a squat movement pattern which is mistakenly done by positioning the hips too low and maintaining an upright back during the setup. And this is problematic because when the hips are positioned too low, your body is placed behind the bar to a greater extent, which both creates unfavorable leverages that causes more stress on the lower back and it decreases the amount of weight you can lift, since your center of gravity isn’t placed in an optimal position. So instead what you wanna do is when you’re in the starting position, focus on the following two key points: One, while keeping your chest up and back straight, ensure that your hips are positioned between your knees and your head, as opposed to positioning them too low as shown here or too high as shown here. The exact angle will vary based on your anatomy, but this is a good guideline to follow.
02:18 S1: And two, ensure that the bar is positioned directly underneath your scapula. If your hips are too low, you’ll notice that the bar is now positioned in front of the scapula, which is just an indication that you should readjust your hip position. Sticking to these two points will help ensure that your hips are in the right position.
02:38 S1: I’m sure you’ve all witnessed the all too common rounded deadlift at your gym, which is probably the most problematic mistake that lifters make when it comes to this movement and acute back injuries. Ideally, throughout the deadlift and especially during the pull, your spine should remain straight with your head, hips, and back, all in line. But if you’re struggling with this and you’re sure you’re not using a weight that’s too heavy for you, then first off, what you need to do is change the way you think of the deadlift. Rather than thinking about pulling the weight up from the floor, think about pushing the floor away with your feet as you lift the bar, similar to how you would push your feet during a leg press. Use this pushing cue for the first three to four inches of the pole, and then after that drive your hips forward to complete the pull. This subtle yet effective cue often helps people keep their hips from rising too quickly, which prevents their back from rounding during the pull. Now, in addition to this, a rounded deadlift is essentially a compensation for weak hips because as shown here, rounding your back actually brings your hips closer to the bar.
03:42 S1: This gives them a better mechanical advantage, meaning that your hips don’t have to work as hard to get the weight up. So to solve this you need to strengthen your hips and the best way to go about doing this is to incorporate more hip strengthening exercises into your routine, like glute-ham raises, split squats, and hip thrusts, for example. Focusing on these exercises in combination with the deadlift cue mentioned earlier, will make a big difference in improving your lift.
04:11 S1: In order to perform an efficient deadlift, the barbell path needs to be as short as possible from start to finish. And that means that it needs to ideally travel in a perfectly vertical line, such that the final position of the bar should be directly over where it was on the floor. However, a common mistake people make is either having the bar start too far away from them when on the ground or not keeping the bar as close as possible to the body when performing a rep. Instead, what you want to do is first place the bar over your mid-foot, then as you lift the weight off the floor, do so by dragging it as close to your shins and thighs as possible, to ensure it’s being lifted in a vertical line. And to most effectively accomplish this, you need to focus on engaging your lats throughout the movement. To do this, before you pull, think about essentially performing a straight arm pull down with the bar in order to engage the lats.
05:07 S1: As shown here, you should feel your lat muscles activated and turned on as a result of this. And you wanna maintain this lat engagement as you pull the bar up from the floor during each rep, since this will help with your bar path and with your overall stability. And if you’re struggling with feeling this, what you can do is attach a band to the bar and pull backwards against the band by using your lats and then perform a few light reps while keeping your lats engaged. This should help you learn what it feels like to properly use your lats during the deadlift.
05:40 S1: Another really common mistake people make with the deadlift is jerking the weight off the floor from a relaxed position. And what happens when you do this is you’re not generating the muscular tension needed prior to the lift, which as a result, often leads to back pain or discomfort and makes the lower back more likely to round as you lift the weight. To address this, what you want to do is after you set up properly, the last thing you should do before lifting the weight, is raise your chest up while slightly pulling up on the bar to generate tension before the pull. Only after you do this small step should you then proceed to perform your rep.
06:19 S1: The deadlift should be finished with solid hip extension, meaning that you’re contracting your glutes and feeling them activate, and your hips are pushed forward until the bar stops them from traveling any further. What a lot of people do however, is continue on by hyper extending the lumbar spine and leaning back at the top position, which is unnecessary and causes a lot of stress on the lower back.
06:41 S1: And for some, this may be just due to a technical error and can be fixed by simply avoiding an excessive lean back at the top, but for many people, it’s a result of an anterior pelvic tilt or just not knowing how to properly contract the glutes and posturally tilt the pelvis during the deadlift. In which I’d highly suggest watching my video on anterior pelvic tilt, which will show you how to address these issues and for those interested, I’ll leave a link to this video in the description box down below.
07:09 S1: That’s pretty much it for the video, guys. So to sum everything up for you, here are the main points that you wanna take away from this video. As I said before, choosing the right exercises is one thing, but performing them correctly and optimally is really what makes all the difference, and if you’re looking for an evidence-based program that shows you exactly how to do so, so you can be sure that you’re maximizing your efforts, then simply head on over to builtwithscience.com/courses to take a look at the four programs that I do have and then choose the best one for you.
07:38 S1: I’ll also leave a link to these in the description box down below. Anyways, as always, if you enjoyed this video, please don’t forget to give it a like, leave a comment down below, subscribe to my channel, and turn on notifications for my channel as well, as this all really does help me out. Also if you haven’t already, I’d really appreciate if you gave me a follow on Instagram as well, where I post a lot of informative content and clips on a more regular basis. Thanks so much for the support, everyone. And do let me know if you’d like to see me do similar videos as this one, but on different lifts, because I can definitely do a series on that, but that’s it for now and I’ll see you next time.
Jamie is a running addict and gym junkie. He trains 7 days per week and is currently doing an MA in nutrition and sports science