deadlift setup with barbell | proper deadlift form
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Deadlifts are one of those classic exercises that are still popular for a reason. They strengthen both your upper and lower body, and when using proper form and technique, they can prevent lower back pain and improve your posture. Specifically, deadlifts target your hamstrings, glutes, and upper and lower back. If you have any low back pain or previous lower back injuries, consult a physical therapist or certified personal trainer before performing any deadlifting exercises.

How to perform a basic deadlift

  • Holding a barbell or a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width distance apart.
  • Keep your neck in line with your spine and roll your shoulders back and down.
  • With a neutral spine, bend at the knees, push your bottom back, and slide the weights along the front of your legs, ending below the knees (about mid-shin)
  • Stand back up, engaging your glutes, abs, and back muscles while lifting the weights up along the front of your legs. Squeeze your glutes at the top.

If you’re finding that basic deadlifts are pretty easy for you, here are some variations you can try:

Variation 1

Stand with feet together to increase the difficulty.

Variation 2

Stagger your feet; place one foot back with your toe on the ground and heel in the air. Perform deadlift.

Variation 3

Stagger your feet. As you lower for your deadlift, raise your back leg at the same time.

Fitness LevelSetsRepetitions
Beginner35–10
Intermediate3–48–12
Advanced3–412–15

Cool down

Stand with your feet together and reach for your toes for 10–20 seconds. Rest and repeat two to three times.

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