Deadlift Mistakes: The Top 4 Broken Down.

Top 4 Deadlift Mistakes

DEADLIFT MISTAKES: The Top 4 Broken Down!

Deadlift mistakes happen far too often. The deadlift is a great whole-body exercise. But, as with any compound movement, it can be problematic for many people, resulting in various deadlift mistakes, and potentially injury.

On one hand, it’s arguably one of the very best back exercises out there and is almost indispensable for developing a well-rounded, muscular physique. Not to mention guard against back pain.

On the other hand, compared to many other exercises, it is extremely easy to do it incorrectly, with poor form.

In fact, the majority of people deadlifting are doing it wrong.

 This means that they are not getting as much out of the exercise as they could be, and are often really risking injury in the process.

In this blog, we are going to go over some of the most common deadlift mistakes.

Let’s dive right in and get your deadlift form up to speed! 

1. Deadlift Mistakes #1: Hips rising before everything else:

During a deadlift, your hips should rise at the same time as your torso, until your legs reach full extension. Next,  your torso should stand up the rest of the way, bringing the bar with it. Lowering the bar properly is the same in reverse. That is hips hinge backward and the knees bend slightly to lower the torso. Once the bar is past the knee, more bend in the knees occurs to return the barbell to the floor.

If the hips rise first before the barbell leaving the floor, this will place a lot more demand on your low back.

Other issues & causes include:

  • Difficulty with locking the weight out
  • Hips starting too low
  • Being too relaxed in the starting position
  • Barbell starting too far away, to begin with

Deadlift Mistakes #2: Poor set up:

Deadlifting with poor form and set up with a high amount of intensity over a period of time may cause some injuries in the low back.

Make sure you set up correctly to start with. The bar should start on the floor over mid foot. Your feet should be about hip-width apart; hands grabbing the bar just outside of your legs. Make sure your hips are in a half squat and not starting too low (refer to pictures). Imagine a $100 bill is in your armpit and you’re preventing anyone around from stealing it (This will be covered in more detail in mistake #4). Take a deep breath, brace your core and push your feet through the floor and stand up. Maintain this tension throughout the entire lift, until you place the bar back on the floor.

Bar being too far away from the body and a rounded back:

Deadlift Bar Positioning Equilibrium Sports and Spinal Clinic

Standing too far behind the bar:

Foot Positioning Equilibrium Sports and Spinal Clinic

Deadlift Mistakes #3: Squatting the Deadlift:

This is a really common mistake we see in the gym. The set-up position resembles a squat with the knees and hips both flexed to great angles more so than a hinge pattern, where the hips are greatly flexed and the knees slightly flexed. This results in a push using the knee extensions (quads) to a greater extent than a pull (glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors). The squat position places the knees in front of the barbell in the setup position. This will often result in the barbell having to move around the knees, as opposed to the knees being moved out of the way of the barbell (creating a straight bar path).


Sitting too far back in the deadlift, causing a ‘squatty’ deadlift

Deadlift positioning Equilibrium Sports and Spinal Clinic

Deadlift Mistake #4: Lack of Lat Engagement:

This deadlift fault is incredibly common but rarely looked at. The lats play a pivotal role in deadlift performance. By engaging the lats in the starting position, we shorten the distance between the bar and the main joint producing force (the hips). When this distance is decreased, we decrease the moment arm about the hips, allowing the individual to lift 3-5% more weight according to great research by Greg Nuckols, which covers this point a lot more deeper in his blog.


As mentioned above, we can correct this fault with a simple cue. By telling the individual to imagine a $100 note is in their armpits and try preventing anyone from stealing it.

Lat engagement will also provide great help ensuring a proper bar path.  After the barbell passes the knee and moves towards the hips. Again the closer the barbell is kept to the hip joint the more efficient the movement will be.

If the Lats are NOT engaged technique fails. As a result of this, we often see the barbell drift forward as it passes the knee. This increases the stress put on the hips and low back and may lead to injury.  By engaging the Lats, we keep the bar moving towards the hips as the individual finishes the pull, increasing lift efficiency. As well as protecting the back from injury.

This is a simple drill we use to help individuals engage their Lats for deadlifts:

If you have any questions or feel you want a more specific approach to your Deadlift, feel free to contact us at [email protected] or make a booking by clicking below.


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