The deadlift exercise, when performed correctly and efficiently, is one of the most powerful, compound movements available. It targets a combination of upper and lower limb muscle groups, including the trapezius, erector spinae, gluts, quadriceps and hamstrings to name but a few. It really can produce incredible all over gains in strength and size.

However, unlike other exercises which you might be able to perform with a lacklustre posture or ineffective technique and not suffer too many problems, the deadlift really is relentless. This exercise has the ability to not only hamper your training regime but to end it, with bad form and technique being linked to career threatening injuries such as prolapsed disks.

Don’t let this put you off however! It’s nothing that some good form and effective lifting techniques can’t prevent. The purpose of this article is to highlight several commonly reported mistakes associated with the deadlift in the hope that you can recognise them and steer well clear.

Three Common Deadlifting Mistakes

With all this in mind, let us take a look at our first common deadlifting mistake:

  1. Setting up with the bar too far away: When setting up your bar and position prior to initiating any kind of deadlift movement, the bar itself should be as close to your shins as possible. Perfect form in deadlifting is associated with bleeding shins, caused by the bar grating up the shin during the initial lift, so this demonstrates just how close the bar should be to your body. Leaving a large gap between you and the bar will alter the centre of rotation; enhancing the exercise difficulty, altering balance and placing undue stress through the lower back which can easily result in an injury.
  2. Mimicking a squatting movement throughout: The deadlift exercise will invoke numerous muscles that are also stimulated during a squat movement; however this is where the similarities end. If you’re looking to squat, then perform a squat! During a squat your hips will move up and down, however the desired hip movement for a deadlift is forwards and back. During the start position your hips should be directly above your knees and the eccentric phase of the deadlift should be achieved by moving your hips backwards. Again, failure to adopt a forwards and back motion can be a common cause of injury.
  3. Failing to push through your heels: The deadlift relies heavily on good form and powerful target muscles working simultaneously to transfer potential energy throughout a strong chain. In order to effectively achieve this you need to keep your weight through your heels throughout. This will enable numerous muscles, including your hamstrings and gluts, to contract favourably. It’s almost as though you’re leaning back slightly, digging those heals of yours into the floor. If you do not adopt this position and are pulled forwards by the load, your balance, ability to lift and potential for injury are all affected.
Correct Deadlift Technique

The Final Word

Listed above are three commonly occurring mistakes adopted by individuals during the preparation and execution phases of a deadlift. Don’t let these faults put you off; they’re easily corrected through concentration and good lifting techniques alone.

Although setting up the bar as close to you as possible, not adopting a squatting movement and pushing through your heels have been highlighted within this article, always remember your basics too; never select a load that will negatively impact on your form, maintain lower limb alignment at all times and keep your core rigid.

With all this in mind, you’re likely to enjoy a long and fulfilling training career, whilst reaping the benefits of one of the best exercises available to you.