April 27th, 2017

Deadlifting can save your life – ok maybe not your life but certainly your back. Whether you are training for a strongman, preparing for the CrossFit Open, or moving a couch the more you know about a deadlift, the better off you’ll be. Here’s how to do a proper deadlift.

Start with a good set up – hands thumbs distance from the knurling on the bar working with a clean grip, bar against vertical shins, your knees bent with butt back, and shoulder blades down and back. Stand up with the bar, keeping it close to your body, and maintaining that good posture and proud upright chest. As the load gets heavier, remember to position your shoulder blades back like they are holding a pencil in between them and keep standing up as you, push through the floor, really engaging your hamstrings.

Deadlifts, especially heavy ones, can be demanding on the central nervous system meaning it takes longer to recover from than power cleans or hang snatches for example.  So try to work heavy only once a week trading off between higher rep count schematics with eccentric tempo or pause (i.e. 10 reps with a 51X0 tempo or a 8 reps with a 3 second pause at the knees) on growth phases and working towards smaller heavier sets (i.e. finding a 2 rep max or doing a set of three at double body weight) during intensification phases.  Then another day within the week add lighter, high rep deadlifts into a WOD on another hinging movement – something like sets of 20 at a lighter weight or kettlebell swings within a conditioning piece.

Deadlifting is a safe and beneficial strength movement at any age, check out a video of 77-year old Willie Murphy who deadlifts 215#:


Deadlifting is not just for men – Crystal Tate set a new world record at the Arnold this spring with a 600# deadlift:


And deadlifts are great for ordinary people too, no matter the age or ability.  Being able to safely pick something up off the ground or keep an upright posture will pay dividends in your future.