The Deadlift


Well-Known Member
4 Jul 2011
What are the most common mistakes in the deadlift?
Watch all the Deadlift Videos in Sequence here, and read the excellent CrossFit article by Mark Rippetoe above. You'll see what the problems are.

Do I need to deweight between reps of a deadlift?
Yes. What you do as a physique athlete in future years is entirely up to you, but in order to properly learn and reinforce proper technique, you MUST begin all deadlifts from...a "dead" stop, bar on the floor, motionless. It helps to actually let go of the bar between reps.

Watch someone perform a set of 8 "touch-n-go" reps. Specifically, look at their body positioning at the beginning of the first rep, relative to the rest of the repetitions in the set. Notice how the first rep looks very dissimilar to the 2nd rep, as well as all subsequent reps? You only perform 1 proper rep this way, and 7 marginal reps. This is bad news for a novice because the motor skills learned during that 1 proper rep will get overwhelmed by the improper performance during the other 7 reps.

This won't happen in a set of 5 on the basic deadlift when you deweight between reps, unless you are pulling a load that is beyond your capabilities and you fatigue prematurely.

By deweighting, you also (intelligently) limit the amount of weight you can use, because the stretch reflex and the bouncing of the weights off the floor will not occur. This will save your lower back from potential injury.

Pull from the floor, every single set, every single repetition from a dead stop. That's why it's called a dead lift.

Can I substitute the <insert variation> deadlift instead?
The sumo deadlift, RDL and SLDL are fantastic assistance exercises for the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, to be used by intermediate-and-beyond lifters, but the conventional deadlift is the preferred variation for this program and for general strength building.

I am having problems with my grip during deadlifts, what should I do? Should I use straps?
  1. Chalk - get some now. Well, what are you waiting for? NOW!
  2. Use a double-overhand grip during ALL ramping sets, then switch to alternate grip (over/under) and/or hook grip on your heavier sets. This will help develop your grip.
  3. Did you get the chalk yet? Why the hell not?
Straps can be useful, but the grip builds so insanely fast, there is no reason for a novice not to simply develop their grip. Your forearms will thank you as well.

...taps fingertips on the table...

Did you get your chalk ordered yet?


Well-Known Member
4 Jul 2011
Should I use an alternating mixed grip or a double overhand or underhand grip during deadlifts?
To promote a stronger grip, perform as many of your sets as possible with a double overhand grip using chalk. Once you get to the heavier sets, you will probably need to use a mixed grip because you will not be able to pull effectively from the floor with a conventional grip.

Never use a double underhand grip during deadlifts. This is asking for trouble, as well as a torn biceps tendon.

Should I use the 35s or 25s for deadlifts, so I can get a greater range of motion (ROM)?
No. Use the 45s. Doing what amounts to "platform deadlifts" is not necessary nor desirable at this stage in your training (novice/beginner). Learn to do the exercise with the standard size plate on either side of the bar. You can incorporate platform deadlifts, or deadlifts with smaller plates, later on once you have some additional time under the bar.

Can I do trap bar deadlifts instead?
Despite the name of this lift, the trap bar deadlift is biomechanically more similar to the squat, but started from a bottom (deadlift) position. As such it is not suitable as a replacement for the squat or the deadlift.

Later on as an intermediate lifter you may find use for it in another program, but it will not serve your needs in this one.


Well-Known Member
4 Jul 2011
My hands hurt and I'm getting really bad callouses. Can I use gloves?
Those who are purely bodybuilders will probably end up gravitating toward this, but before you go this route, consider a few things:
  1. The gloves make the bar larger in your hands, which makes it tougher to hold
  2. Gloves stop some callouses, but won't stop all of them
  3. Your grip strength will be very problematic, as you will almost always be forced to use straps when gloves are used.
The reason you are getting callouses, aside from potential lack of chalk (see above), is that you are holding the bar too high, up near the palm of your hand. The bar is going to pull downward until it bunches up the skin into the "crotch." If you can feel the bar resting on this "fold" of skin you can count on getting some pretty heinous callouses. chalk up and grip the bar with the "hooks" of your fingers, and you will save yourself a lot of pain and agony in the hands.


With diligent chalk use, proper grip, and a little moisturizer in your hands when you wash, you can avoid the big nasty callouses and you won't have to worry about making runs in your pantyhose.

If you already have bad calluses you can treat them following them by following the indications found here.


Well-Known Member
4 Jul 2011
How close should the bar be to my shins while I perform the deadlift?
The bar should damn near scrape your shins all the way up and all the way down. I have hairy legs, and I know I'm not pulling properly unless I lose some hair on my shins.

In doing this, you will help ensure a few things:
  1. Your scapula stay above the bar during the initial pull to the knees
  2. Your glutes, hams and lower back are in a better position of support
  3. You are more easily able to maintain a lower back arch
The initial pull involves a lot of leg drive, as well as what could be referred to as "shoulder drive", where you use your hips to pull your shoulders back by performing hip extension. Wondering why your lats and traps get sore during deadlifts? it's during this phase, where your traps and lats have to pull the bar back into your body, when the bar wants to try to pull you forward.

Your hips keep your torso from leaning forward (which is bad), and your traps and lats keep your shoulder girdle pulled back and in place, which, in turn, keeps the bar close to your body which, in turn, helps make life easier on your hips and lower back.

If the bar drifts out away from your shins during the deadlift, you increase the distance between the "puller" (your hips) and the "pull-ee" (the bar). As a result, you are leaned over more (torso at < 45 degrees above parallel), and this is a far less powerful position to be in than the one where you are sitting back slightly (torso > 45 degrees above parallel)

Keep the bar close, and you will use more weight and you'll do so in a safer manner. Keep the bar farther away from your body, and you will use LESS weight, but it'll be MORE dangerous.

The choice seems simple enough to me. Lift more weight safely, or lift less weight and possibly end your lifting career.

Dragging the bar up and down my legs is killing my shins. Can I avoid this?
I'm afraid you'll have to keep the bar dragging against your shins, but getting a thick pair of soccer or baseball socks and wearing athletic pants over them will help immensely. Eventually you'll just get used to it.


3 Feb 2013
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