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  • Karen - The Baker's Body

The Deadlift

The deadlift has fast become one of my favourite lifts! It engages and works the entire posterior chain, which I love.


While deadlifts may look slightly different from person to person and there are variations to the conventional lift, the overall principles of performing a deadlift correctly still apply.

Alternatives to a traditional deadlift include the kettlebell deadlift (great for beginners), trap bar deadlift and sumo deadlift.


I actually alternate between conventional and sumo deadlifts far more frequently now. Sumos allow me to open up my hips more and place extra emphasis on my hamstrings and glutes. It can also sometimes be better for lifters who struggle to maintain a neutral / flat back during the deadlift.


I make sure I do a full warm-up before getting stuck into my working sets. Deadlifts have a high demand on the body and require coordination as well as strength. But don’t let that put you off if you don’t get it perfect first time. Take time to work on this lift, improve, experiment and you will reap the rewards.


Below are examples of what I might include in my warm-up to make sure my hip flexors, groin, knees, feet, calves & hamstrings are ready for action & to fire accordingly.


Spiderman walk with twist

Squat to standing (hands on ankles)

Fire hydrants

Barbell rows

Pull ups


So, how do you perform a deadlift correctly? Here are my tips:


· Place feet hip width apart;

· Stand so that the bar is over your shoelaces;

· When you descend it’s important to hinge your hips back as far as comfortably possible as well as bend at the knees;

· Use a standard overhand grip to hold onto the bar;

· Your armpits should be aligned directly over the bar;

· Chest up and neck/head neutral;

· Push into the floor and use an explosive movement to power up;

· Once the bar passes mid thigh retract shoulder blades back, drive hips forward and stand tall;

· Remember to hinge at the hips again when going down and once the bar has passed your knees you can then bend them.


Your back should remain neutral and not round during the lift. If your upper/mid back starts to round during a deadlift, this can be a sign that some additional strength training in this area is needed. Examples may include snatch grip deadlifts, reverse flies and even front squats.

If you find that your back is rounded from the start of the deadlift, then focus some attention on mobility work for your T-spine, hips and/or ankles.


Using wrist straps or opposite grips can help if you find grip strength challenging. I always recommend, however, if using opposite grips that you alternate these to prevent developing muscular imbalances over time.


I’ve also found that extra hamstring training has helped to improve my deadlift.


Please remember, if you are dong this for the first time, experience any discomfort or pain seek professional advice.

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