How to Deadlift Properly for Muscle Growth (5 Simple Steps)

Optimise your form.

This video from Jeremy Ethier will teach you how to deadlift properly for muscle growth.

It divides the process into 5 easy steps for you to follow.

How to Deadlift Properly for Muscle Growth

Deadlifts can be scary, especially if you don’t know how to deadlift with proper form. Here’s how to deadlift for beginners in 5 easy steps.

Step 1: Create the Pillar

“Proper deadlift form starts with your feet. Walk up to the bar and align it right over your shoelaces in the middle of your foot. Widen your feet to about hip-width apart with your toes facing forward. Next, your hips and ribs.”

“Deadlifting with the hips and ribs misaligned is the most common reason for back injury. They should remain stacked like a pillar and stay that way as you lift. To do that, let’s start with the hips.”

Deficit-Deadlift-athletes nordic curls How to Deadlift Properly for Muscle Growth

“Think of your hips as a bowl full of water. Tilt your pelvis back so the bowl is flat. You can think as if you were trying to bring your belt buckle to your chin. As for the ribs, flatten them by engaging your core. At this point your ribs and hips should be stacked evenly on top of each other. But to keep them locked in that position, squeeze your glutes and inner thighs together and feel yourself getting taller as you do so. And finally, make a fist in each hand and push them down towards the ground to straighten your arms and activate your lats.”

Step 2: Grabbing the Bar

“When you perform deadlifts, keep the pillar we created in step 1, and start pushing your hips back while keeping your fists pushing straight down under your shoulders. Imagine you had a bag full of groceries in each hand and you’re trying to close the car door with your butt.”

“You want to continue pushing your hips back as far as you can WITHOUT your big toes coming off the ground. Once you reach that end point, bend your knees and bring your shins to the bar to pull yourself down those last few inches. Keep going until you can hook your hands onto the bar just outside your knees.”

Step 3: Creating the Wedge

“The wedge is a powerful position that will prevent your lower back from being compromised as soon as you lift the weight on the deadlift. To create it, drive your knees out against your arms. Then, take a deep 360 breath as if you were wearing a belt and trying to push air against all sides of it, and then brace your core as if someone were about to punch your stomach. Next, think about extending your chest and getting tall from your hips all the way to your head. And finally, activate your lats by squeezing your armpits as if you had oranges in them and you were trying to make orange juice.”

Step 4: Push

“This is actually the simplest step, but it’s also where most people screw up their proper deadlift form. They think how to deadlift as a “pull” and end up breaking out of the position we worked so hard to create.”

Deadlift Benefits with Pat Vellner These 5 exercises for a strong lower back will help you to protect your body and prevent injury. Lat Push Down Best Exercises for a Round Butt Best Back Exercises for Muscle GrowthSource: Photo Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

“To avoid this, a deadlift technique to use is to imagine your arms were ropes with hooks at the end of them just hanging onto the bar. Then, to lift the weight, rather than going from 0 to 100 and jerking the weight off the floor, keep the tightness we created in step 3 and think about pushing the floor away with your feet harder and harder until the bar lifts off the ground.  When done correctly, your hips and chest should rise at the same rate.”

“Continue pushing the floor away until the bar passes your knees, and then think about thrusting your hips forward or humping the air in front of you to meet the bar at the top of the lift. To avoid injuring your back at the top, your shoulders should not be behind your heels and your low back should not be arched.”

“To prevent this, as you come to the top imagine you’re about to get punched in the stomach and keep your glutes squeezed together. At the top your hips, ribs, shoulders, and chin should all be stacked like parallel floors of a building.”

Step 5: Descent

“We want to control the weight down, but we need to do this with correct deadlift form. Now this will look very similar to what we did back in step 1, the only difference now is that you have a bar.”

“Many people tend to let the bar sway forward in front of them which causes a lot of stress on the low back. Instead, push your hips back and slide the bar down as close as possible along your thighs. As soon as the bar passes your knee caps, that’s when you can bend your knees and slide the bar along your shins to get the bar back over your mid-foot.”

“But to avoid losing tension and leaving gains at the table, avoid bouncing the weight up off the floor. Instead, stay tight and gently touch the floor with the weight before your next rep. And … congrats my friend! You’ve just learned how to deadlift properly! Not so scary after all, right?”


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What Muscles do Deadlifts Work?

Deadlifts primarily work the muscles in the legs, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. They also work the muscles in the back, including the erector spinae, lats, and traps, as well as the forearms and grip. Additionally, deadlifts also engage the core muscles.

Are Deadlifts Safe?

Deadlifts, like any other exercise, can be safe if performed correctly with proper form and technique. However, if done improperly or with too much weight, they can put a lot of stress on the lower back and lead to injury. It is recommended to start with a lower weight and gradually increase as your form and strength improves. It is also important to engage the core and maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement, keeping the back straight and avoiding rounding or hunching over.

It’s also important to note that some people may have pre-existing conditions that make deadlifts or other exercises involving lower back extension more risky for them. It is always a good idea to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any concerns about your health.

Do Deadlifts Build Muscle?

Deadlifts can be an effective exercise for building muscle, especially in the legs, back, and core. The deadlift is a compound exercise, which means it works multiple muscle groups at the same time, making it a great exercise for overall muscle development. Deadlifts require the use of heavy weights, which puts a lot of stress on the muscles, leading to muscle breakdown and eventually muscle growth.

However, it’s important to note that muscle growth is a result of progressive overload, which means gradually increasing the weight, reps, and sets over time. Deadlifts, like any other exercise, need to be done consistently over time and with proper form, along with a proper diet, to see significant muscle growth.

It’s also important to note that muscle growth is not only depend on doing deadlifts, it also depend on other factors, such as:

  • A proper nutrition plan that provides enough protein and calories for muscle growth.
  • Adequate rest and recovery to allow the muscle to repair and grow.
  • Progressive overload, which means gradually increasing the weight, reps, and sets over time.
  • Consistency, deadlifts, like any other exercise, need to be done consistently over time and with proper form.

So, deadlifts can be a great exercise for building muscle, but it should be part of a well-rounded workout routine that includes other exercises and good nutrition.

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