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How to Deadlift

What is a deadlift?

What is a deadlift

See all deadlift variations

The Deadlift is a good exercise for improving strength, particularly your lower body. Performing this exercise doesn’t just require the legs and back but it also requires you to use your arms and abs so it’s also a good movement to master for toning the whole body. You might not even be aware but you’ve naturally been doing deadlifts in your everyday life. Every time you bend down to pick something up, you are essentially performing what is called the deadlift, so it’s a practical and functional exercise that would be worth adding to your exercise routine.

Other than developing real strength, there are several more benefits to performing the deadlift. This includes improved posture, increase in muscle mass, greater fat burn, and more.

See variations of deadlift exercises below, which includes video demonstrations and a how-to guide.

Deadlift tips

  • Think about keeping your shoulders back and down and maintain a tall spine throughout the whole movement to avoid rounding your back.
  • Brace your abs and pull the bar (or dumbbells) smoothly off the floor.
  • Keep the bar (or dumbbells) close to your body while performing the whole movement to avoid unnecessary swinging movement.

Deadlift variations

Stiff leg deadlift

Level: Beginners to Advanced

Equipment required: Barbell with weighted plates or a pair of dumbbells.

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, or a barbell with plates loaded. Make sure there is enough space surround you to perform this exercise.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the dumbbells, with palms facing you, or bar in front of you.
  3. Bend your knees ever so slightly and hinge forward from the hips, keeping your back straight.
  4. Lower the weights towards the floor, keeping them close to your body, and feel the pull down your hamstrings.
  5. Return to starting position, squeezing the glutes at the top.

Barbell deadlift

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Equipment required: Barbell with weighted plates

SET UP: Your gym should have a weights area with enough space for you to perform this exercise. Some gyms will have an Olympic lifting platform which would be the ideal place to perform this exercise.

  1. To get into starting position, make sure to stand up right against the bar, lower your hips to reach the bar. Your hand should be slightly wider than the width of your shoulder. You can either hold the bar with an overhand grip, or have one underhand grip and one overhand grip - whichever feels best for you.
  2. Once you’ve got a hold of the bar, push your hips back to the point where you feel tension in your hamstrings. Brace your abs and maintain a tall spine.
  3. Engage your lats and keep your chest proud throughout the whole movement. A good way to do this is to imagine as if you are putting your shoulders in your back pocket. This will help to avoid putting too much tension on your back.
  4. Lift the bar smoothly off the floor by extending your knees until you are standing in upright position, whilst keeping your abs tight, shoulders engaged and the bar close to your body.
  5. Exhale as you reach the top and squeeze your glutes. Slowly lower the bar back to the floor, keeping the bar close your body to return to starting position.


If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.