View Full Version : How is my Deadlift form?

Peter Dell'Orto
06-19-2007, 05:37 PM
It's been a while since I did straight-bar Deadlifting. This is me with a 10kg standard bar, 2 x 20kg plates. Oly weights are vanishingly rare around here, so that's what I've got to work with. I checked all the deadlifting videos here and a few other places, but it's hard for me to see my own flaws.


I'm really feeling it in my lower back more than my legs and hips when I push off.

This video is actually my fourth test set, so I think my form improved. It took a few sets to get the camera set up properly - for this video it's balanced on my workout journal on top of two standard bars inside the power rack, against the far wall. I have the videos but you most see just my legs as I stand up out of frame.

Anthony Bainbridge
06-20-2007, 04:02 AM
You definitely need more arch in your lower back, maybe bring your hips up higher so your shoulder blade is over the center of the load, move your knees away from the bar (not the bar around your knees), squeeze the bar off the floor - don't yank.

Peter Dell'Orto
06-21-2007, 01:33 AM
Anthony - thanks. Now for the dumb questions.

To clarify, I need more arch in my back - do you mean I need to push my lower back forward, towards the bar? Will moving my hips be sufficient to do that?

When you say move my knees away from the bar, do you mean on the ascent or the descent? It like it's going up pretty much straight, and I'm swinging it out on the descent. Maybe I should try to point my feet out more so my knees aren't in the way.

You're totally right about squeezing, too. Arrgh. I know it in my head, and I know I used to do it trap bar deadlifting, but clearly I lost it.

Thanks for the comments. This helps immensely.

Anthony Bainbridge
06-21-2007, 09:05 AM
Yes, your lower back should arch in. Your spine should make a lazy "S" shape - take a look at the pic (http://www.lifespan.org/adam/graphics/images/en/19463.jpg) to get an idea.

During your ascent, I think the bar should be a little closer to your body. Think about shaving your legs with the bar. Not a huge deal, but something to think about.

The descent is where you need a bit more work ... think about pushing your butt back and sliding the bar down your thighs. Once the bar hits knee level, start to lower your knees/shoulders at the same rate. If you have tight and/or weak hamstrings, this may feel uncomfortable, but keep working at it.

Good luck!

Peter Dell'Orto
06-29-2007, 04:46 PM
Okay, I made a form cue sheet using Mark Rippetoe's article, my McRoberts book on weightlifting technique, Anthony's advice here, and the wikipedia entry on Deadlifting. Then I gave it another go.

I also switched to a longer bar, because the knurling on the regular bar scraped my legs painfully. This longer one has a wider smooth area so it's painless to drag across my legs.
I also stood in a slightly wider stance with my feet angled outwards slightly more. These changes made it much more comfortable to deadlift.

Here is me on Friday 6/29 deadlifting 50kg. This is set 3 of 5. I recorded most of my sets, but this one is pretty typical.

I realize my form might breakdown at heavier weights, so I loaded the bar with 80kg - just about my bodyweight of 83kg. That's well within my deadlifting PR for a trap bar deadlift, and if anything I'm stronger than when I set that record. The first time I tried 80kg last week my form totally broke down and my back rounded. This time was a lot better, but still needs work:

Compared to my first video, my form is clearly better - feels better, too, I feel it more in my legs. I still see a couple flaws - especially my hips rising slightly faster on the ascent than my shoulders. I'm also ending up with raised shoulders, not locked back. My descent isn't very settled, either - I hesitate and lose my groove.

But I think it's getting better. Anything else I need to work on?

Anthony Bainbridge
06-30-2007, 07:15 PM
I'd still like to see more arch in your lower back, but you definitely made improvements!

Peter Dell'Orto
07-01-2007, 07:37 AM
My improvement is thanks largely to your feedback. It's much easier to see what you're doing wrong when someone else points it out. I knew it was wrong, but not how...

I'll work on my back arch tomorrow at the gym, and again on Friday. I'm going to stay at my current weight (50kg plus some 80kg test reps) and lift twice a week until I feel like I can rely on my form. I'll try to post some followup video after I practice more and get it down.

Anthony Bainbridge
07-01-2007, 08:06 AM
Yeah, there are a ton of things you can do to help your arch. Practise supermans on the floor, look into some dynamic/static drills for the hamstrings/glutes/hips, hang on to the side of a squat rack and get into a bottom squat position and just focus on arching, etc, etc. Bottom line, just keep practising and drilling the concept home. You're not far off!

Laura Rucker
07-02-2007, 01:47 PM
Peter, about the arch, think about getting your chest up, ie instead of looking forward by lifting your neck, pull your shoulders back so that your chest points forward instead of down. This will feel like your hips get lower and you'll feel your S-curve. Try it without the bar with your hands in position.

I hope that helps.

Peter Dell'Orto
07-02-2007, 03:55 PM
Anthony, Laura - thanks, that helps. I lifted yesterday...still had a few bad reps but I was picking out the bad reps out of my sets, not trying to find the good ones. I'll try to work on the arch and pushing my chest forward on Friday, my next deadlift practice day.

I'm still feeling the stress a bit more in my lower back than in my glutes, but I do feel it in my legs and my lats when I lift. Also, I missed an 80kg rep last night - and I knew it as soon as I started to pull and stopped. I didn't lose it in progress, which is really a step up in terms of keeping form.

(Message edited by pdellorto on July 02, 2007)

Peter Dell'Orto
07-09-2007, 06:06 AM
Okay, still not enough back arch, and I'm still moving the bar around my knees a bit - resulting from not keeping my back angle the same during the ascent/descent I think. But I'm getting better! I'm practicing my back arch and positioning while I cycle to and from work - with my loaded backpack on I can easily feel if I'm in the right position.

Here is my 50kg warmup set:
http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/pdellorto/Shooto/Workout/?action=view&cur rent=DeadliftForm7-9-0750kgset.flv (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/pdellorto/Shooto/Workout/?action=view&current=DeadliftForm7-9-0750kgset.flv)

I dropped to 70kg for my work sets from 80kg. I meant to do 75kg but I didn't notice until after I got started that I forgot 2 plates. Heh.

I think rep 3 in this set is basically fine - it felt great when I pulled that one:
http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/pdellorto/Shooto/Workout/?action=view&cur rent=DeadliftForm7-9-0770kgset3.flv (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/pdellorto/Shooto/Workout/?action=view&current=DeadliftForm7-9-0770kgset3.flv)

What do you guys think?

Anthony Bainbridge
07-13-2007, 07:14 AM
Movement looks a lot smoother.

Maybe it's just the shirt or the video, but I still think you could get more arch in your lower back. Probably just need some flexibility work.

Peter Dell'Orto
07-13-2007, 08:07 AM

Thanks. Yeah, the shirt is a bit loose but I'm still not arching enough. I got a good suggestion over on the exrx boards to try doing some light-weight Romanian Deadlifts just to practice keeping a good arch and using the hips not trying to power it up with the legs. Those seem to be my main sticking points - not keeping my shins straight until after the weight passes my knees on the way down, and not keeping my arch properly.

Thanks for watching all my videos.

Peter Dell'Orto
07-13-2007, 11:33 PM
Whoa. I think I did it. My hips come up a little faster than my back. But I ended up going with two cues and two cues only after I got my feet (and therefore my shoulders) in position:

- keep the shins straight while the bar is above the knees.
- keep the lower back arched hard.

And this is what I got:

http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/pdellorto/Shooto/Workout/?action=view&cur rent=2a27e707.flv (http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/pdellorto/Shooto/Workout/?action=view&current=2a27e707.flv)

I think that's it right there. Felt great. 72.5kg (2.5 kg more than last week) felt lighter than 50kg did a week before. No special stress on the erectors, in fact, stress was pretty even across my legs and back and hips. I'm confident I can do more weight without problems using this form.

Robert McLaughlin
08-18-2007, 04:39 PM
Complete novice here, but a guess, Peter look like maybe 6'3" or better, would that make for problems in DL?

Peter Dell'Orto
08-18-2007, 06:22 PM
6'4" aka 193 cm actually.

My height maybe made it tricky at first compared to a shorter dude, but once I got the back arch down I've been doing fine.