Whether you are going to use a deadlift program as part of a strength-training program or want to begin powerlifting, developing a good strategy is the first step. Proper technique can help you avoid injury and increase the amount of weight you can lift.


Many beginners are overly-concerned about their stance in the deadlift, primarily because they see competitive powerlifters with different approaches to their lift. The stance you choose is based on what is most comfortable for your body. Start your deadlift in the conventional stance, with your legs about hip-width apart. As the weights become heavier, some people find the sumo deadlift allows them to lift heavier weight. Additionally, your body composition can factor into which stance is the most comfortable. For example, people with a larger mid-section may need a wider stance in order to squat down and grab the bar without losing their form. Being taller or having longer legs relative to your torso can make the sumo deadlift more comfortable.


The three common types of grip are the double-overhand, mixed, and hook grip. The double-overhand grip is what you will use in the beginning, because it is the most natural. In this grip, you are grabbing the bar with both palms facing down. Once the weights become heavier, this grip can be impossible to maintain, which is the reason competitive powerlifters either use the mixed or hook grip.

In the mixed grip, one hand grabs the bar with the palm facing down, whereas the other hand goes under the bar and wraps around, palm facing upward. Since each hand is grabbing the bar in a different way, it is harder for the bar to simply slip out your hand. The hook grip is the most challenging, but can be a more secure way of holding heavier weights. A hook grip looks much like the double-overhand grip, except, the thumb is tucked under the remaining fingers. For a better visual, fold your thumb toward your palm and bring your remaining four fingers toward your palm, essentially grabbing your thumb. Unless you have longer fingers, the hook grip may not be possible.


Good form is critical to increase the amount of weight you can lift and to minimize the chance of injury at heavier weights. During the entire movement, from squatting down to grab the bar, until you are standing erect while holding the bar, the goal is to keep your spine neutral. It is good practice to approach the bar and stand there with the bar approximately crossing the middle of your feet and trying to squat down and grab the bar from this position.

If the bar rolls away from you, you are probably not trying to grab the bar correctly. or you are too close. and your shins are moving forward, pushing the bar away. The ultimate goal is for your legs, back, and arms to work together and pull the bar from the floor to a neutral position. If you are not grabbing the bar from a squatting position, then your back and arms are taking over most of the work and you are likely to end up hurting your lower back.

The deadlift is part of powerlifting and a good exercise to incorporate into any strength-building program. Developing proper technique will not only improve your strength, but reduce your injury risk.