Common Deadlift Mistakes

In this video, we identify and correct 12 common deadlift mistakes.

Incorrect Stance

In a correctly executed setup, the lifter should stand with their shins 1 inch away from the barbell. This puts the barbell directly over the middle of the foot (which is often the tongue on the lifting shoe). If the lifter sets up too close (less than 1 inch away), the barbell is behind the midfoot and the shoulders too far forward.

Because of that, the barbell will often swing away from the lifter as it comes off the floor, leaving contact with the shins. Hips are often too high in this situation, as well.

Hips Too Low

In this error, the lifter might begin setting up correctly, and then drop their hips too low, which often pushes the bar forward of the midfoot. We refer to this as “squatting the bar off the floor.” When the hips are too low, the lifter loses efficiency of the pull.

Yanking the Bar

While setting up, it’s important to squeeze the slack out of the barbell, not yank it off the floor. When the lifter squeezes his chest up to set his back in normal anatomical extension, he should feel the bar get heavy in his hands and wait for a “click” between the sleeve and plates.

Rolling the Bar

If you do this, you’ll likely have no idea where the barbell ends up at the start of the pull – it probably won’t end up directly over the midfoot where it should be. Start with the barbell 1 inch from your shins, directly over the midfoot.

Knee Valgus (aka Knee Cave)

Shove your knees out while setting up for the deadlift, so that they are against your elbows. Don’t push them out so far that your elbows bend, but they should remain out. When the knees cave in (knee valgus), the adductors cannot contribute to the movement as they should.

Failure to Extend the Low Back

Arguably the most important part of the deadlift, is setting the spinal erectors into normal anatomical extension. This occurs during step 4 when the lifter squeezes their chest up.

Losing Back Extension

Failure to hold the back in extension (the back literally “rounds”) is another common deadlift error. This can also occur at heavier weights or in competition, even when the lifter tries his best to maintain low back extension.

Shrugging at the Lockout

Don’t shrug your shoulders or traps up at the lockout. Just stand up normally and think “proud chest.”

Overextension at the Lockout

Don’t lean back excessively at the lockout – you may be overextending your spine. Again, stand up tall, think “proud chest.”

Lack of Hip Extension at the Lockout

This is the opposite of overextension at the lockout – sometimes a lifter fails to finish the lockout completely. Bring your hips to full extension by standing up tall and imagining your shoulders are in line with your hips which are in line with the middle of your foot.

Bouncing the Bar Off the Ground

This is most often seen in Crossfit – bouncing the barbell off the ground instead of starting each rep from a dead stop. There’s a reason the deadlift is called a “dead” lift — because it should start from a dead stop.

Gripping Too Wide

If you grip the barbell with an excessively wide grip, you are artificially shortening your arms and creating a longer, more difficult and less efficient deadlift.

Gripping Too Close

If you grip the barbell with an excessively narrow grip, you can’t shove your knees out and if you do shove your knees out, it will often cause your elbows to bend. If you start the pull with bent elbows, that’s a yank!



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