The deadlift is an enormously effective multi-muscle exercise and therefore one of the basic exercises of strength training. However, since the movement is complex and error-prone, it should only be performed by experienced athletes or under their supervision.

Deadlift, Barbell
Deadlift, Barbell

Muscles involved in the deadlift



Correct execution of the deadlift

  • For deadlifts you need a conventional barbell. First, assume a parallel foot position about hip to shoulder width.
  • The barbell is centered above your feet on the floor.
  • Grasp the barbell in pronated grip (it is also possible to grip the bar with one hand pronated and the other supinated).
  • Tighten your muscles and bring the bar up close to your body. At the same time, move your back to an upright position and extend your legs almost completely.
  • In the upright end position you push the hips slightly forward and pull the shoulders slightly back.
  • Now squat down again to return to the starting position.
  • You can either stop the movement just before the floor or lower the barbell briefly. However, it is important that tension remains in the muscles in both variations.

Secure your lower back by minimally arching your back (hyperlordosis) during exercise to protect your intervertebral discs!

Common mistakes with the deadlift

  • Too much weight: too much weight will prevent you from performing the exercise correctly. This reduces the training effect and increases the risk of injury. 
  • Momentum: If you move the weight with momentum, you relieve the target muscles and thus reduce the training effect.  Consequently, you should avoid swinging movements and get the strength isolated from the target muscles.
  • Too fast execution: Slow, precise execution of the exercise is important for this exercise. The movement amplitude is low, so that you can concentrate on a correct execution.
  • Crooked back: The back must be continuously straight during the classic deadlifts with the barbell. Make sure you don’t hunch over or arch your back too much. Only the lower back forms a slight natural hollow back.
  • Moving of head and neck: Your head and neck should remain in the neutral position while performing the exercise. Otherwise you will reduce the training effect of the target muscles and risk injury.
  • Butt incorrectly positioned: Important for an optimal execution of the classic deadlifts with the barbell is also the position of the butt, which should be neither too far down nor too far up. Make sure that the butt forms a natural extension of the spine. The butt is the lowest point of your torso.
  • Fully extended legs: If you fully extend your legs while performing the exercise, you are exposing your knees to an increased load and therefore an increased risk of injury.
  • Lack of tension in the body: Tension should remain in the body during the entire execution of the movement. Only then can the potential of the deadlift exercise be exploited.
  • Wrong end position: Do not lean backwards at the end of the movement. The strong hollow back promotes damage to the spine. The back has to be straight and the shoulders pulled back slightly.
  • Barbell too far away from the body: If you raise the barbell too far away from the body, you risk serious back injuries. The execution must be as close to the body as possible. It may / should touch the thighs and hips in the upward movement.

Variants of the deadlift

  • Sumo deadlift