A Quick Tip on your Deadlift Set-up for Beginners

Posted on 12 Jul 2015 11:14

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I want to give you guys a really quick and short tip on how to deadlift. This is aimed at beginners and people relatively new to the movement.

A common mistake I have observed with beginners is they often tend to make a mistake with their breathing during the set-up of the deadlift. I have observed that they will first take that big breath of air and then get their hips right, elbows locked out and shoulders retracted and THEN they begin the pull. Now because they have taken a deep breath in the beginning and after that many steps have been taken in the set-up, they tend to struggle or have wonky form while performing the actual lift.

Here’s what I recommend: don’t waste your breath right in the beginning. Most of you know what you need to do and you have a mental checklist you go over before initiating the pull. Make sure you take your breath towards the very end of your set-up process. This way you are already tight and braced for your lift and the final breath is like the icing on the cake: it makes your pull flawless.


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Arjun Kedia (face blocked by power cage) figuring out how to set-up properly
for the deadlift a the team at Big Boy Basics looks on.

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Arjun Kedia (face blocked by power cage) figuring out how to set-up properly
for the deadlift a the team at Big Boy Basics looks on.

Eric Troy of Ground Up Strength has provided a good checklist for your deadlift set-up and you can find it here: How to do Deadlifts: Hips Too High, Too Low, or Just Right

Here’s a checklist I recommend for the set-up for the deadlift:

1. Place your feet either at shoulder width or a bit more or less based on what is comfortable for you. I tend to personally like a little less than shoulder width because otherwise my knees tend to force my elbows out too much. So pick a stance you find comfortable.

2. Make sure the bar is approximately above the middle of your foot. Eric recommends keeping it an inch away from the shins and that’s a good placement.

3. Grab the barbell correctly and squeeze it throughout the movement.

4. Keep your hips above the level of your knees and below the level of your shoulders.

5. Try to engage your lats by retracting your scapula and moving them down your spine (this is for your visualization purposes).

6. Make sure your shoulders are ahead of the bar so that the bar is directly beneath your scapula.

7. Take a deep breath (visualize getting your lower abs really tight) and focus on bracing your core.

8. Engage in the pull and deadlift the bar up.

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