Deadlifting Will Not Get You Laid But It Will Make You Awesome: 8 Common Deadlift Mistakes

Love to Eat? Introducing

Are you passionate about food, nutrition and recipes? Unleash your inner foodie and check out our brand-new site - share your favorite recipes at Nutrition-WOD today!

Page:  1 Next »
Print
by DAN RUNION|Coach at CrossFit 77

Deadlifting Will Not Get You Laid But It Will Make You Awesome: 8 Common Deadlift Mistakes
I have a love/hate relationship with the deadlift. On one hand I love it for its simple brutality — no other lift has the potential for generating more work output in one brutal workout. Yet all one does is pick a weighted barbell up off the floor from a full stop to full extension.  It is absolutely beautiful in its simplicity: pick it up, put it down. It’s simple…but it ain’t easy. Besides the heavy weights involved, there’s a lot that can go wrong, and this is why I also hate it. I look around my gym or at a CrossFit competition and see folks making some common mistakes that put themselves at risk of some serious injuries. And why? Ignorance might be a legit excuse, but that’s little solace while recovering from hernia surgery…or worse.

I’ve been deadlifting for a while and I’d argue that I’m pretty good at it. It’s “my jam,” you could say. Still, I consider myself a beginner yet so I’m usually surprised to see others making some very basic mistakes. Therefore I feel compelled to compile the things that I’ve learned over the years that have helped me increase my deadlift weights and remain injury free (knock on wood). I consider these tips to be the “The Basics.” You should know these too, and you should be preaching it to your clients with the vigor of a cheetah chasing a gazelle.

1. Pulling Heavy Weights Without a Stable Neutral Spine

You need to make the lift safely or not at all.
Contrary to popular belief, the spine is built to handle heavy loads so long as it is in a neutral position. What it is NOT built for is to handle heavy loads while not in alignment and/or while in flexion or extension. What this means to a deadlifter (and a squatter, for that matter) is that it is critically important to get set up in a neutral position and HOLD IT THERE for the duration of the lift. When the spine moves under load is when bad things happen. If you can’t hold your core/spine while performing the lift, then you need to stop. Check your ego. Lower the weight and don’t go up again until you can hold your core stable at the higher weight. Talk to your coach about how to get there. You might be strong enough to make the lift, but that doesn’t mean you should. You need to make the lift safely or not at all.

Speaking of setup, one thing that I see a lot of folks doing that drives me bonkers is that whole “look where you want to go” thing. They get down in their setup, which includes a gaze toward the space where the ceiling meets the wall. What this does is immediately put their cervical spine (the neck area) in nearly full extension, and as we just discussed we want the spine neutral right? Right. Why do it? Don’t. Just…don’t. Instead, let your gaze be about 5-6 feet in front of you on the floor and allow it to move up to straight in front of you as you perform the lift. This will keep your cervical spine neutral for the duration of the lift.

2. Jerking the Weight Off the Floor

Jerking the Weight off of the Floor
How many times have you seen someone set up for their deadlift, and then bear down before violently ripping or jerking the weight from the floor? They get down, grab the bar, set their gaze, take a breath…then in one VIOLENT movement they drop their shoulders or raise their hips suddenly before ripping up on the bar and letting out a grunt and/or yell while pulling from the floor. You’ve seen it. It’s a train wreck and literally it frightens me every time I see it. In your gut you know it doesn’t look right, and it’s not!

The problem is twofold: not only are they moving out of their setup position (which may even have been a good one), but then they are applying force to their body in this now suboptimal starting position. You work hard for your setup for a reason, so don’t ruin it! Moving out of your presumably good setup then violently ripping the weight from the floor puts massive amounts of shear force on countless parts of the body while in a bad position. I’m not an anatomy expert, but you don’t have to be a doctor to know that this is a recipe for disaster. Slipped/herniated discs, hernias, muscle strains/pulls/tears; none of it is fun. Find your setup position and stay there as you begin the lift.

Folks that do this violent bear-down-and-rip-it technique are playing Russian roulette with their bodies. Something’s going to break and break badly. The secret to deadlifting for a long time without injury is getting the body into the correct position and KEEPING IT THERE while applying power.

I approach the deadlift like drag racing a car: I want to apply as much horsepower to the wheels as I can without burning the tires off or breaking parts. If I pull up to the starting line in my car and just mash the pedal to the floor, I’m only going to spin the tires all day long; if by some miracle the tires hook up, then parts on the car are going to break. Deadlifting is much the same: I get down in my setup, take a breath (more on that later), and I apply force in a smooth yet fast manner. It starts as a little and QUICKLY increases until the weight starts moving. Once you get the bar moving from the floor you can put the pedal to the metal and hold on for dear life. But if you apply all that force all at once, smoking tires or blown up spines are what you’ll reap. Neither wins the “race.”

3. Incorrect Breathing

When it comes to breathing, I incorporate two methods depending on the rep scheme. For example, if I’m going for a 1-rep max, my breathing technique is different from a heavy set of 5. That said, the goal of each is the same and that is to breathe only when I’m not straining to pull the weight from the floor. Why? Well try this: Take a deep breath and hold a tight core. Now let the breath out. What happened? As soon as you let the breath out your core became less stable, right? And what do we need to hold our spine in alignment and avoid nasty injuries? That’s right, a tight core. This applies to more than just deadlifting, obviously, but with the heavy loads of the deadlift it’s just that much more important.

[I]f you’re going to let out a little bit of air (however you choose) just make sure that you do so in a way that doesn’t relax the core, but rather tightens it up even more.
For 1-rep max attempts or heavy singles, the lift starts before I even approach the bar. I start to take some deep breaths and get myself moderately hyperventilated. Not to the point of passing out or feeling light headed, but just enough to have a slight excess of oxygen in the bloodstream. This insures that I’ll have enough air in my body while performing the lift without having to take a breath until I’m complete. Only then do I approach the bar and get set. Once I’m set I take a breath and hold it until I begin the lift.  My diaphragm will not relax again until I’ve completed the lift and set the bar down. This keeps my core tight, helps me stabilize my spine, and keeps any number of possible places in the gut that could get herniated from moving unnecessarily while under load. There are no guarantees, but why increase the risk unnecessarily? For an added “crunch” of the core I find it helpful to let out a grunt/groan, or a slight, controlled, or “pursed breath.” You may not realize it, but your core tightens when you grunt or yell. That’s the goal here. Remember under no circumstances should the diaphragm relax. So if you’re going to let out a little bit of air (however you choose) just make sure that you do so in a way that doesn’t relax the core, but rather tightens it up even more.

For sets of multiple reps I follow the same breathing method as above, but since the weights are lower I allow myself to take a breath at the top of the lift only. You can take a breath at the bottom if you want, but I feel that takes too long and increases the likelihood of resting too long. This is particularly important if you’re a CrossFitter, but is still appropriate for strength training. Wherever you choose to take your breath, just make sure to utilize the tips above before starting the next rep. Safety first!

Printable Version
Page 1 2 Next »

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 

Contribute to this story by commenting below:

Advertise Here

Most Popular of All Time

CrossFit Silicon Valley shared a link on Facebook

Today is Michaela's BIRTHDAY! - Scored a little wine flight time with this ethereal beauty to start her birthday week! Yay for me! Happy Birthday Coach M! Cheers to another year of fruitful happiness with family, friends and fitness. We love you- Cin cin!LEVEL 1ACTIVATION:36 Air Squats + 21 Straight Leg Burpees3x10"/10" PVC box BS3x10"/10" PVC thrusters36 hollow rock to supermanCrossover Symmetry ActivationSKILLS:5min working on GHDSU medball throwsSTREN... http://ow.ly/2M8uTO

CrossFit Iron Mary's shared a link on Facebook

Main - CrossFit A. Paused Front Squat (@24X1, 6x2; rest 2min) + Metcon (2 Rounds for time) 2 sets ‘all out’ - row 250m - 20 KBS 53/35 - 25 burpees - 20 KBS 53/35 - row 250m - rest 8 min Notes - build per set - pause for 4 sec at bottom of FS, focus on a tight, upright position - metcon is ALL OUT both sets

CrossFit Iron Mary's shared a link on Facebook

Main - CrossFit Endurance CE Skills and Drills 15 minutes of swim skills 15 minutes of row skills Metcon (AMRAP - Rounds and Reps) AMRAP 10 minutes 75 Meter Swim 1 Deep Water MU 15 Push Press (95/65) Swim is 1 rep Metcon (AMRAP - Rounds and Reps) AMRAP 10 minutes 150 Meter Row 1 MU 15 Push Press (95/65)

Fu Barbell shared an image on Facebook

The future ❤️ #FuBarbell #CrossFit

CrossFit Invictus shared a link on Facebook

Don’t Fall Victim to Stealthy Sugar!

GymnasticsWOD shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Invictus posted on Facebook

Tonight's Invictus Endurance Team track workout: Two sets: Run 1 mile - Rest 2 minutes Run 1200M - Rest 2 minutes Run 800M - Rest 2 minutes See you at the San Diego High School Track at 6:45pm!

GymnasticsWOD shared a link on Facebook

Here is the Freestyle Connection Seminar tour stops for SEPTEMBER. I look forward to seeing you all there! September 6, 2014 in Minneapolis, MN at CrossFit Mendota September 7, 2014 in Denver, CO at Centennial CrossFit September 20, 2014 in Philadelphia, PA at CrossFit Ridge Ave September 21, 2014 in Medfield, MA at Reebok CrossFit Medfield Visit to register: http://gymnasticswod.com/seminars

GymnasticsWOD shared an image on Facebook

"I will be at @Costco in Danville with my coauthor @tonysherbondy tomorrow Thursday the 21st from 5-7p. If you are in the area, come stop by to say hi! We will be hanging out, meeting people and signing copies of the book. Much love to everyone for the ongoing support with this project. ✌️ Photo cred: @thatschmittcray" - Carl Paoli

Walnut Creek CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Brand X Poway posted on Facebook

You get 2 chances at Yoga this week! Join Emily this Thursday at 6:15 and again on Saturday at 11:30! Your body deserves it!

CrossFit Invictus shared a link on Facebook

Check out PurePharma's new video - "A Day in the Life of Lauren Fisher"!

CrossFit Coronado posted on Facebook

The new shirts are here (minus camo and pink ladies tanks) and ready! They will be at the gym in time for today's evening classes to buy them! For this week only shirts are $20 (tanks and t-shirts). Next week they will be the regular price of $25. We've got man tanks too (limited number so if you want one come get one)!

CrossFit San Diego shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit San Diego shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit San Diego shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit No Boundaries posted on Facebook

Childcare Available this Thursday 5-7pm Drop Off at Creekside Park 4 Spots Left $8 first kiddo $5 additional kiddos 1. Must add them to your "Family" in Zen Planner then 2. Go to "Sign UP" (On the left hand side) to sign each child into the Childcare Program 3. Click on the Childcare tab on the main calendar 5pm-7pm Registration closes at 10am day of and we need to meet a minimum. This is a trial run. All money to be paid cash to our childcare person at the time of pickup. As we continue to develop childcare options, something to keep in mind is this...a co-op option which would cost nothing. But until then, we will try to offer Thursdays from 5-7 as long as there is interest. Thanks! Nadin Hare Paul Leafstedt, Natalia Silveira-Escobedo, Pamela Hammer Michno, Amanda Miller McLeod, Max Seraj, Chrissy Seraj, Sarah Pearson-Beck, Monique Leon,

CrossFit Invictus shared a link on Facebook

Tips on how to roll on the run!

CrossFit Fortius shared an image on Facebook

Lindsey S. in her first ever CrossFit competition tying for 3rd place (missing out on the podium by the 2nd tiebreaker) in the Intermediate division. Less than a year into CrossFit, a bright future lies ahead for her :) #teamfortius #crossfit #crossfitfortius #sandiego #socal #competitor #california #sdsu #livesore #fortiuscompetitionteam #clean #jerk #turf #sandiegocrossfit #fitness #gym #olympiclifting #oly

Aliso CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Messed up on RD 6 and did Burpees before the Deadlifts. Partnered with Nolan.

CrossFit Pleasanton shared a link on Facebook

Good News: Gluten-Free, Low-Carb Paleo Diet Hits the Mainstream

CrossFit Brand X Poway posted an article
CrossFit Brand X Poway shared an image on Facebook

Brand X CrossFit Ramona WOD 20:00 EMOM first: strict pull-ups second: ring rows Followed by: "Annie" 50-40-30-20-10 Double-unders Sit-ups Then: mobilize

Aliso CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Partnered with Jeff.

poollizelle published the post Change, good or bad? on Tabata Times
We don’t like change. It is implanted in our beings. If we have to go do something different, we...
CrossFit No Boundaries shared a link on Facebook

Somebody has a birthday today… http://wp.me/p3sq8Z-3ys

CrossFit No Boundaries posted an article
CrossFit San Diego shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit San Diego shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit San Diego shared an image on Facebook

You're welcome ladies!!!

CrossFit San Diego posted an article
Isabeau Miller published the post Coaching (and Being) an Under-Construction Athlete on
It’s arguable that all athletes are always “under-construction”-- trying to get...
Carson CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Carson CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

WOD A: behind neck push press 5x3 WOD B: 3 Tabata rounds 1. HSPU/hollow hold 2. squat jumps/bar hang 3. burpees/plank hold

CrossFit Coronado shared a link on Facebook

Wednesday 20 August

CrossFit Fortius shared an image on Facebook

Francis D. in his first individual CrossFit competition finished a strong 13th (of 36) in Intermediate at the LCI this past weekend. #teamfortius #crossfit #crossfitcompetition #fortiuscompetitionteam #sandiego #usna #navy #clean #jerk #sdsu #sandiegocrossfit #livesore #competitor @crossfit

CrossFit Temecula posted an article
CrossFit Grudge posted an article
CrossFit Proper posted an article
CrossFit Proper shared an image on Facebook

What's for dinner? #havefundocrossfit #bebetter #crossfitproper

CrossFit Belmont Heights shared an image on Facebook

Did anyone catch the "Grid"? National Pro Grid League or NPGL? The first ever match was today. It's head-to-head, team workouts, where you strategically sub in Athletes (depending on their strengths) throughout the WOD to complete a chipper before the other team. It was interesting! Big CrossFit names on each team...go to www.npgl.com and check it out. Tell us what you think! The LA Reign home field is the Cal State LB pyramid...maybe we'll all go check it out! CFBH 8.20 WOD a: For Time 3 rounds: 30 KB swings (53/35) 30 Box jumps (24/20) WOD b For Time 3 rounds: 400m run 25 Wall Balls (30/25)(20/18) 10 Pull Ups

CrossFit Future shared a link on Facebook

“ANNIE” (BENCHMARK) http://wp.me/p2RAeU-2dk

CrossFit Future posted an article
CrossFit Belmont Heights shared an image on Facebook

Wod 8.19 results!

Aliso CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Scott - Farmers Carry 106lbs

CrossFit Upgrade posted an article
Aliso CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Congrats to everyone who PR'd on their bench press today !

CrossFit Coronado shared an image on Facebook

South Coast CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

We have Yoga a couple nights a week. Wish you were happier try our Restorative Yoga class...

CrossFit Newport Beach posted on Facebook

Friendly reminder CFNB peeps- there will NOT be a Yoga Tune-Up this Thursday night. Get out those tune-up balls at home, pick a target area, and work on loosening up those tight spots! See you next week!

CrossFit Marina shared an image on Facebook

Wednesday: Complete as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes of: 5 Dumbbell squat snatches (Right arm) 5 Dumbbell squat snatches (Left arm) 30 double-unders Then: Sumo Dead Lift 9 x 1 - Work up to a heavy single.

TJs Gym shared a link on Facebook

The Hyman brothers and Central Payment step up BIG TIME for Juggling for Jude. Thank you, Matt and Zach!

CrossFit Fortius posted an article
CrossFit Surf City shared an image on Facebook

Function & Fitness Aug 20th, 2014 http://l.inkto.it/5016l

CrossFit Mission Gorge shared a link on Facebook

Some mobility work tomorrow, and a descending (in reps) conditioning WOD just for fun. See you in the gym!

CrossFit East Village shared an image on Facebook

Fundies getting in on the farmer's carry action tonight

CrossFit East Village shared an image on Facebook

Fundies getting in on the farmer's carry action tonight

CrossFit Black Diamond shared a link on Facebook

http://wp.me/s49DVY-6544

CrossFit Mission Gorge shared an image on Facebook

Please give your farewell (but not forever!) wishes to Assistant Coach Jessica Scherr, as she travels to Costa Rica to study abroad for the semester. She promises to send us amazing pictures, hit tons of new PRs at her temporary CrossFit box, and come home to San Diego soon! Expect her back in action as an athlete and Assistant Coach at CFMG in January (just in time for the Open!)

Aliso CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Complete as many rounds as possible in 30 mins of: 3 Thrusters, 155/115 lbs 6 Box Jumps, 30/24 in 9 Deadlifts, 155/115 lbs 12 Burpees 15 Toes-to-bars

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV