Patrick is a competitive power lifter and the newest therapist to join our team. He’ll be starting at Massage Athletica – St. Vital on January 18th. His deadlift personal best is 605lbs! Here’s his tips on the perfect execution of a deadlift.

The Setup

1. Feet shoulder width apart
2. Use a mixed grip for best grip control. It is though that a combination of supinated and pronated grip will neutralize reverse torsion.
3. The bar should be directly over mid foot.
4. Hips should be significantly lower than shoulders when you are gripping the bar, but not so low that you are just squatting the weight up.
5. Get into a neutral spine position. Many lifters put themselves into a position of lumbar hyperextension or hyperlordosis (such as an olympic weightlifter would do in their setup, but this is not ideal here)
6. The thoracic spine should remain neutral throughout the lift. If you watch videos of the biggest deadlifts you may notice that some lifters utilize a thoracic flexion position, this is for one of two reasons: they may be doing it purposely to shorten the range of motion of the lift (by lengthening the arms), or it may be a result of a technique breakdown experienced under maximal loads. Either way it should be avoided with the possible exception of elite level lifters. To maintain a neutral cervical spine, a cue to use is to retract your chin into your neck during the top portion of the lift (as if you were trying to make a double chin) don’t over-exaggerate this, just keep it in mind while doing the lift.

The Start

1. Get your air in, then pull yourself down to the bar. By this I mean take up the slack in the bar while forcing or allowing your hips to dip down, and allowing your shoulders/upper body to rise slightly, effectively this is turning your body into a coiled spring.
2. Your first movement upon initiating the lift should be your upper body driving up and slightly back, loading the weight onto your heels rather than the balls of your feet, you should also begin exhaling here, and thinking of releasing that coiled spring you created, while maintaining a strong core.
3. Once the bar nears the knee or clears the knee begin to thrust or drive the hips forward towards the bar, this will prevent the bar from travelling out too far away from your body.
4. Finish the lift by pulling your scapulae together.

Things to Avoid

1. Avoid starting the lift by straightening the legs and loading the lower back, although this is an exercise known as stiff-leg deadlifts or romanian deadlifts, it should be avoided here. Generally sub-maximal weights are used for these exercises, but when you combine the extreme lumbar flexion of a stiff-leg deadlift with the poundages used in a regular deadlift you put yourself at risk of injury.
2. Avoid taking too wide of a grip, this increases the range of motion of the lift.
3. Avoid trying to “yank” the bar off the ground. Instead, be sure to pull out the slack of the bar and contract your core, then you are safe to perform the lift with as much explosion as you want.
4. Avoid squatting the weight up, this means you are not using the tension you’ve created effectively, you’re focus should be up, but also very slightly back. This is what prevents you from squatting the weight up.


1. Start the weight low and learn to create the coiled up spring starting position.
2. When performing multiple repetitions in a set, don’t try to bounce the weights at the bottom to gain an advantage. Instead let the weights completely stop dead on the floor, then get your body back into the coiled up spring start position.
3. Remember, this is a full-body movement, not a low back movement.

This is written for the conventional deadlift, however, most of the information also applies to the sumo deadlift.