We’re going to dig into one our favorite movements: the deadlift. A movement that seems simple but can be messed up in maaaaaaany ways, and sometimes is completely overlooked, the deadlift is an integral movement that you should have in your repertoire.


  1. The deadlift is a compound exercise… a compound exercise is a movement that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously… and is honestly something we should do a wholeass episode about soon… so when you pull a deadlift, you’re working: lats, traps, erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors.
    • You also work your forearms, which happens from gripping the bar… and you will be working your core muscles, because they always keep us from falling down.
  2. Since the deadlift is a compound movement; it utilizes your hips, knees, ankles, and several large muscle groups. Comparing that to isolation movements, compound exercises that involve larger muscle groups triggers a hormonal training response that results in greater strength gains. 
    • The deadlift can also be used in a rehab setting… it’s been thought that moderate to high hamstring activity that comes from the exercise, may help protect the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) during rehab.
  3. The deadlift translates directly into real life applications because it mimics bending and lifting… anyone who has a toddler is pretty much a deadlift pro at this point.
    • The deadlift is also the base of both olympic lifts… so if you ever want to snatch or clean, you better perfect your deadlift first.


When you talk about the deadlift, you’re going to often hear about two kinds: conventional and sumo. There are more, but today we are going to cover the most common variations of the deadlift. The key difference between the two styles is foot placement and grip width. 

  1. Conventional
    • Your feet are about hip-width and turned slightly outward, your grip will be just outside the width of your legs.
    • If you want to learn olympic lifting and Crossfit, you want to drill the conventional deadlift into your brain.
  2. Sumo
    • Your feet are wider than conventional stance; and pointing outward at about 45 degrees, your hands will be inside the width of your legs.
    • If you want to lift to feel good, powerlift, or bodybuild; the sumo deadlift is going to be something to put in your arsenal.
  3. Obviously, you should know how to do both, but if you’re going to pick one to do first: start with the sumo. Why?
    • Sumo style is believed to decrease the stress placed on the lower lumbar by as much as 10% when compared to the conventional deadlift. It also seems to be favored by those who have longer than average torsos. 
      • It requires less hip flexion and a more upright trunk position, which may benefit those who are longer in the torso.
    • Sumo style requires much larger knee and ankle movements compared to conventional deads… which means your quads are activated more in a sumo deadlift than conventional.


Whether or not you’re pulling conventional or sumo, executing a deadlift is going to be pretty much the same outside of the differences we mentioned a minute ago.

  1. Start position: your feet should be flat on the floor, grip the bar with a closed alternate grip, this locks the bar into your hands so it won’t slip out… if you’re a more experienced lifter, you can fuck around with clean pulls, aka deadlifts where you grip the barbell overhand with both hands.
    • Your legs should be flexed, not quite in full squat, but also don’t pull straight-legged. The barbell should be as close to your shins as possible, and your back should be straight and shoulders upright.
  2. The pull starts when you extend your knees, your hips and shoulders will move along at the same rate, keeping your back straight, and shoulders above or just in front of the bar. At the end of your pull, you should feel the hip hinge… that when you feel your hips thrust forward to lock out, and lock your lats. Hips and knees should be fully extended.
  3. Once you’ve completed the pull, flex your hips and knees to lower the bar back to the floor, slowly back to where you started from… the deadlift is an up AND a down movement.
  4. REMEMBER: your torso should be straight during the whole movement, at NO portion should your back be rounded… if it is, you have too much weight on the bar, and you need to back it down.
    • Keep the barbell as close to your shins, knees, and thighs as possible throughout the lift.
    • Feet should always be flat on the floor, pushing through the heels.
    • Don’t jerk… the deadlift should be smooth throughout the entire movement.
    • If your knees are moving from side to side during the lift, it’s too heavy, drop the weight a smidge.
    • Because it utilizes a bunch of muscle groups, you may need more rest between sets of deadlifts than you’re used to with other movements.


  1. Deadlifts can be done with basically any kind of equipment or object: dumbbells, bands, kettlebells, med balls,jugs of water, buckets of sand… whatever, really.
  2. The deadlift isn’t for everyone. If you’re dealing with lower lumbar injuries or any joint injuries, it’s super important to talk to your doctor or chiropractor before you try to tackle the deadlift.
  3. Gloves, belts, chalk, and straps can all help you with your deadlifts… what works best for you is going to take some trial and error.

Now you know way more about the deadlift than you ever thought you needed to know, but you’ll be pullin’ like a pro in no time. (handjob jokes, teehee)




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