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Correct Technique for the Dead Lift

Nathane Jackson, holistic nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach, takes us through one of his favorite exercises, the dead lift. He sees men in the gym doing this one wrong too often and too many women not doing it enough. He breaks it into two phases to keep it simple and safe. Phase one: walk up to the bar with your feet directly beneath it, squeeze your glutes, take a deep breath, exhale, pull your chest down, bring your belly button in toward your spine, shoot your nathane_jackson_dead_lift_pichips and hamstrings back while keeping your back flat. Phase two: grab the bar overhand in a hook grip, place your shoulders directly above the bar, keep tension in your hamstrings by rolling yourself under the bar (follow Nathane's lead), and lift while squeezing your glutes and core. If you mimic Nathane, you will get the most out of this exercise and stay safe while you do so. Here's a more detailed approach:

Phase I

  1. Walk up to the bar placing feet under bar. Bar should dissect feet.
  2. Squeeze gluteus muscles creating a pelvic tilt.
  3. Big breath expanding diaphragm, on exhale pull rib cage down and tighten abdominal muscles. Similar to the reaction you would have if someone was going to poke you in the stomach.
  4. Pull neck back, creating an oh-so-sexy double chin.
  5. Take a big breath, filling your diaphragm again but this time don’t lose the tight connection you have already created. Keep the stomach tight and flat, opposed to extending the belly.
  6. Hinge at the hips by pushing your butt and hamstrings behind you, this will create tension in both. Be sure to keep a straight/flat spine from crown of the head to tail bone throughout the lift.


Phase II

  1. With one hand, using a hook grip, grab the bar just outside your shin (I use the length of my thumb from my shin as the desired distance as this allows me enough room for my knees to clear my hand when I start the lift) and follow suit with the remaining hand.
  2. At this point you may have lost some tightness in your hamstrings and gluteus. This can be corrected by just slightly pushing your hips and knees straight back.
  3. Pull yourself under the bar. This will accomplish two things, the first being eliminating the slack in the bar and the second will externally rotate your shoulders and prop up the chest (without breaking the flat back position). You can check your position by making sure your shoulders are directly over top of the bar.
  4. You are now ready to pull. Push the ground away with your mid foot and keep the back straight/flat and tight.
  5. nathane_jackson_deadlift_imagePush your hips forward by squeezing the gluteus muscles at the top of the lift creating that pelvic tilt again. The shoulders should already be slightly pulled back from pulling yourself under the bar in Phase II, step #3.
  6. Reverse the movements for lowering the bar by starting with pushing the hips and hamstrings back behind you.

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