Since doing my Gym Fitness Instructors course last November I have become a bit of a “technique geek”!  So I thought where better to share my new found enthusiasm than on our blog.

Today’s post is the first in a series of articles that I will write about how to do a “inset exercise name here”.  But where should we start?  What one exercise is the basis of so many?  Answer – the deadlift.

The Deadlift


During the Roman Empire days, soldiers needed a way to stop getting hurt while clearing dead bodies from the battlefield.  It is believed they were taught proper lifting technique by their commanding general, and this is how the “deadlift” was born!

The deadlift is an excellent compound exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, gluteal muscles,lower back and core.  (A compound exercise means that the action uses more that one muscle group).

It can be used for something as basic as picking your clothes up off the floor or, at the opposite end of the scale, in strength training by challenging yourself to increase your one rep max .  Technique and joint alignment are therefore very important to avoid injuring yourself!

So, how is it done?

For the purpose of explanation we shall use the barbell as the items we are going to deadlift.

Body position

  1. Place toes underneath the barbell with feet about hip-width apart. The feet may be pointing forwards or slightly outwards depending on comfort of the exerciser, but they must be an equal distance from each end of the barbell.
  2. Flex at the knees and hips to adopt a ‘get set’ position, also known as a hip hinge. Keep arms straight and positioned outside the knees.after_the_fracture_hip_hinge
  3. Ensure knees are correctly in line with the feet and keep the back neutral by tensing abdominals. The backside should be higher than the knees, with the head looking forwards and slightly down.
  4. Grasp the barbell with an over/under grip, shoulderwidth apart.
  5. Position the shoulders slightly in front of the barbell, to allow the bar to travel in a vertical direction.

Exercise action

  1. Keeping the posture correctly aligned, extend the hips and knee joints.
  2. Keeping the bar close to the legs throughout the movement, come up to a standing position without hyperextending the spine or locking the knee joints.
  3. Lower the bar under control, keeping it close to the legs by flexing at the hip and knee joints (similar to a squatting movement).
  4. Keep the shoulders retracted at all times to aid stabilisation of the neutral spine position.
  5. Just before the weights touch the floor repeat the lifting movement.
  6. At the end of the last repetition in a set, release the bar when it touches the floor, and stand up slowly with the same movement that was used for the exercise itself.


Keep the weights light to begin with until technique is perfected and remember to breathe (breathe out when coming up to a standing position).

Let me know how you get on.

Aileen x