Fine-Tuning Deadlift Technique

About the Author: Eric Cressey

I often do technique critiques for my online consulting clients by having them send me video demonstrations of them performing their exercises.  With that in mind, I recently did one as a favor to a friend, and in the process, came across what I thought was a great example of how some quick adjustments could yield big-time benefits.  Hopefully this serves as a good "teaching moment."  First, here's his report to me:

"I've been lifting around this weight for a while – 120kgs 1×5. Think my best might have been late last year around the 130kg mark, but have had a niggling back injury that's been slowing things down a bit."

Here's his video:

Here was my feedback:

1. I would bring the feet a bit closer together. You always want your elbows outside your knees, but not in front of them…like this:


2. Along those same lines, try to get your hands in tight to the sides of the legs, too. If you were to keep your hands where they are, but bring the feet in to where they should be, the gap between your arms and the sides of your thighs would be too much.  You want them essentially touching.

3. Think of trying to use the weight of the bar to pull yourself into the bottom position and puff the chest up. I should see the logo on your shirt a lot easier from the front position.  You're kind of just dropping into that bottom position, not going down to get it.

4. The double overhand grip is fine, but you don't see a lot of people pulling huge weights with it outside of the super freaks. Unless you're willing to put in the time and effort to master the hook grip, I'd go to alternate grip.


5. Think about putting force into the ground, not just lifting the bar.  This is the big one for you, and it's why the bar wants to drift away from you instead of staying closer to the body, which is a bar path you want.

If I was programming for you, in month 1, I'd do speed deadlifts (10-12 sets of 1) at 60-75% of one-rep max on one lower body day; the heavy focus would be on driving the heels through the floor and being fast at the start.  Then, I'd let you pull heavier with the trap bar on the other day for sets of 2-4 – just to keep strength up while you're grooving the pattern.  The trap bar doesn't allow you to get out in front with the load quite as much.  

If you're looking for some great programming advice, I'd encourage you to look into Dave Dellanave's great manual, Off the Floor: A Manual for Deadlift Domination.  If you're looking for more coaching cues like I outlined above, definitely check out my free video, Mastering Deadlift Technique.  You can get it by subscribing to my free newsletter in the opt-in box below.