Warning! This is not an exercise to be taken lightly and you should be completely comfortable with what to do before performing the exercise. If you have any doubts watch some videos on line and consult with a professional trainer. To avoid injury, start with light weights and progress as you become more comfortable with the exercise and perfect your form. In particular, make sure you keep your head up and you back straight.

In principle the Deadlift is a pretty simple exercise as it simply involves picking a barbell up off the ground and setting it back down. However, like the Barbell Squat, it’s very easy to get wrong which means it’s also easy to pick up an injury. As with all free weight exercises form is everything as getting the right form not only means you’ll get more out of the exercise, it also minimises the risk of injury.

The deadlift mainly targets the lower back, however, it’s one of the few compound exercises that trains the whole body. Like the Squat, anyone serious about weight training should be including the Deadlift in their workouts.


Also known as: Barbell deadlift
Primary muscles: Lower back
Secondary muscles Forearms, Traps, Lats, Middle Back, Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Calves
Equipment needed: Barbell
Level: Intermediate

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1 – Set up
Stand in front of a loaded barbell and walk forward until your feet are half way under the bar, slightly narrower than shoulder width and pointed slightly out. Bend at the waist and grasp the bar tightly with an overhand grip keeping your arms slightly wider than shoulder width apart.

Step 2 – Starting position
To prepare for the lift push your buttocks towards the ground and touch the bar with your shins. Keep your head and chest up and push your shoulders down so your entire body feels tight ready to lift. There should be a slight arch in your back but it should be largely in a straight line at a 45 degree angle to the floor.

Step 3 – The lift
Exhale, grip the bar tight and just stand up, pushing through the floor with your heels and using your quads to power to the top of the lift in a clean, explosive movement. Push your chest out at the top of the lift and keep your shoulders down (do not roll the shoulders).

Step 4 – Return to the starting position
Lower to the starting position by first pushing the hips slightly backwards and allowing the bar to descend through the exact same path, as close to the shins as possible. The knees should only bend when the bar passes them and not before. You may have lost some form on the downward movement so before performing your next rep make sure that you tighten up your frame again as described above.

image credits: fitnessillustrated

Related Articles

Want More?

Enters your email address to receive support, motivation, hints, tips and special offers.