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Proper Deadlift Form And How To Use It To Your Advantage

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

In a conventional deadlift, your arms should be in a vertical position to ensure proper technique and to maximise the effectiveness of the lift.

Here are a few reasons why:

Better leverage: When your arms are in a vertical position, you can engage your lats more effectively. This helps you maintain a neutral spine and transfer the load to your legs and hips, which are the primary movers in the deadlift. If your arms are in a more horizontal position, you won't be able to engage your lats as effectively and the weight will be more difficult to lift.

Reduced strain on the lower back: With your arms in a vertical position, The weight will remain over the mid foot for the duration of the lift, and greater activation through the legs (leg drive) will occur. This reduces the amount of stress on your lower back and helps you maintain a more upright posture. If your shoulders are too far in front of the barbell you'll use less leg drive and put unnecessary strain on your lumbar spine.

Increased power output: By engaging your lats, and maximising leg drive while keeping the weight close to your body, you can generate more power and lift heavier weights. This is because you're using more muscle mass and creating a more efficient lifting pattern.

Overall, keeping your arms in a vertical position is key to maintaining proper form and maximising your deadlift potential. It may take some practice to get the hang of it, but it's worth the effort for the increased strength gains and reduced risk of injury.

How do you know if your arms are in a vertical position? FILM YOUR LIFTS!!!!! By filming your lifts side on, you can review and adjust your position. Over time the correct position will become natural to you, but not if you don't practice and make a conscious effort to improve the lift. To set up for the deadlift, the barbell should begin over the mid foot, with both hands placed pronated on the bar, just outside of the leg width. Shoulders should be in front of the bar, with hips in a neutral position or slight anterior tilt (try to eliminate any posterior pelvic tilt). When viewed from the side the armpit crease should be inline with the bar. READ THAT AGAIN! When viewed from the side the armpit crease should be inline with the bar.

Engage the lats by pulling down on the bar and then drive up with the legs. The same back angle should be maintained until the bar is above the knee, with shoulders still slightly in front of the bar. Once above the knee you can begin to pull the torso back to a vertical position through hip extension. Finish extending the knees and hips to achieve a standing position with the bar at arm’s length, making sure to keep the quads, glutes and abs tight. Return the bar to the floor under control using the same form.

**If you are a coach, this is your best tool for helping your client nail the deadlift set up. If the armpit is not inline with the barbell, you can be guaranteed the shoulders will be too far forward, and the hips will be too high. This diminishes leg drive and causes the lifter to hinge at the hips to lift the bar off the floor. In the clean or snatch this will lead to a handful of technical errors which you will have to fight to fix during the next portion of your lift. CONTROVERSIAL - We do not initiate the deadlift with a hip hinge. The focus is to maintain position and drive with the legs until the bar is above the knee. Then you can hip hinge to standing position.

Learn all this and much more in our online lifting courses -

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Happy Lifting


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