The deadlift is arguably one of the easiest-looking weightlifting moves anyone can learn–but unfortunately, it’s also incredibly hard to perfect. Screwing it up is also more damaging than screwing up, say, the bicep curl, which won’t do more than make it harder to get that coveted bicep peak. Screw up the deadlift and you’re not just sacrificing better muscle development here–you’re risking a nasty back injury which take months, if not years, out of your exercise routine.
Here are five crucial mistakes beginners usually make while mastering the deadlift.
5 Common Deadlift Mistakes
#1: Deadlifting with a wide stance. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve made this mistake one too many times, and I’m sure you’ve made it too–starting the deadlift with a stance that is too wide for a conventional deadlift. Your stance should be very narrow–think of it as the normal stance your assume when standing straight up–and keep this stance throughout the entire lift.
#2: Pushing instead of pulling the weight. While the deadlift may look like a pulling-type exercise, deadlifts are more of a push-type maneuver because you push the weight through the heels. If your main focus is on pulling the weight up instead of pushing with your heels, you’re probably sacrificing good form.
#3: Going too heavy. Before you start the deadlift, drop your ego–learn perfect form before going heavy with the lift. Going too heavy with any exercise is a good recipe for bad form, and to a bigger extent, a higher risk of injury. Use a weight that is easy to lift to start, and as you begin learning how to lift the weight correctly, consider increasing the weight–but only in small, manageable increments.
#4: Not letting the weight touch the floor after each repetition. If you’re trying to do a conventional deadlift, the weight must touch the floor after each repetition–not doing so makes this more of a Romanian-style deadlift, albeit with bad form. You can allow it to touch the floor briefly (called bouncing it) or let it pause on the ground for a few seconds, but it must touch the floor–no exceptions.
#5: Treating the deadlift like a squat. A lot of beginners treat the beginning deadlift stance like they’re assuming the eccentric part of the squat, bent down with hips down to parallel, when in fact this is bad form–and a good way to make it harder to deadlift. The deadlift is a hip-dominant movement, so your hips should be above your knees, not parallel or below them, according to Men’s Health .
Eric Cressey, “The 5 Most Common Deadlift Mistakes,” MensHealth.com