Video Article: Breaking Down The Deadlift - Improve Your Skills To Pull Maximum Poundage

It's one of the most important exercises you will ever perform: the deadlift. expert Matt Biss will show you how to maximize your deadlift technique so you can pull biggest poundage possible.

It's one of the most important exercises you will ever perform: the deadlift. expert Matt Biss will show you how to maximize your deadlift technique so you can pull biggest poundage possible.

Breaking Down The Deadlift

Watch The Video - 04:51

Important Deadlift Factors



The proper shoes for deadlifting have a thin flat sole to keep you in the proper position while you pull.

Weight Belt

A decent weight belt can actually help increase your numbers. The best type of belt to use is a power belt. You should wear it tight and low on the abs. The belt will increase core activation and lumbar spinal stability because it gives you a wall to push against.


Chalk removes moisture from your hands while lifting and improves your grip.

Wrist Straps

If your grip is too weak to hold on to the large amount of weight you want to pull, this accessory can support the joints in your wrists.

However, you shouldn't rely on wrist straps because your grip is weak. You have to strengthen your grip to improve your deadlift, but it is okay if you need to use wrist straps every once in a while. Use a double overhand grip and loop the strap over the bar to secure it.

Barbell Deadlift

Foot Position

Your feet should be placed about the width of the hips or narrower with the bar directly above the middle of your feet.

Hand Position

Your arms should be more or less perpendicular to the ground. If you have a grip that is too wide you'll have to lower your body further and increase the distance that you have to pull the bar.

Grip Variations

Double Overhand Grip

With this grip both hands are pronated. It does give the advantage of reducing tension in the biceps however this is the weakest of all the grip positions.

Over/Under Grip

The most commonly used grip is the over/under where you have one hand up and one hand down. This grip is great because it prevents the bar from rolling out of your hands with a heavier weight. But it can put a lot of tension on your biceps.

Hook Grip

The hook grip is similar to the double overhand but for this you will wrap your fingers over the thumb. This is the strongest grip that you can have, but it is more difficult to get comfortable with.

Shoulder Blades

The position of your arms - basically perpendicular to the ground - will control the position of your shoulders, but they shouldn't be too far forward or behind the bar.

To practice an advanced technique, try relaxing your shoulder blades at the beginning of your lift. This basically gives you longer arms and less space you have to pull the bar.

Hip Height

When you lower your hips to grip the bar, you should only go down until you have a comfortable grip, no further. Take a deep breath as you lower your hips and slightly bend your knees.

After you get in position, your breathing will be restricted, so it's important to breathe as you sit your hips back.

Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift

The Ascent

To start your pull, drive through the floor with your heels. Keep your chest and your head up. Focus your eyes on a point several feet in front of you. Your lower back must stay tightly arched.

As you pull the bar up, your hips and shoulders should move upward at about the same speed. If you raise your hips too fast, you will end up doing a strait-legged deadlift.

The Layback

When the bar is past your knees and your shins are now strait, you are ready for the layback.

Pull the bar backward by retracting your shoulder blades. Then drive your hips into the bar. You should feel like you are trying to lean backward with the bar, using your body as a counterweight. Obviously you won't be able to lean backward very far, but your muscles will get a better workout if you concentrate and focus on the movement.

Lowering The Bar

Don't reverse your deadlift to lower the bar to the floor. You can let gravity do most of the work, and remember to bend at the hips with your knees slightly bent. Control the weight of the bar to the floor. Be careful of how much noise you make - some gyms have a lot stricter of rules than others.


The key to maximizing your deadlift is to shorten the distance you have to pull the bar.

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