The deadlift is one of the basic movements of CrossFit which is repeated in other more complex ones such as the clean or the snatch.

At the same time, it is one of the exercises with the most strength transfer to real life. Getting a strong deadlift will help you move more safely in your everyday life: picking up a weight from the floor, carrying groceries or picking up your child from the floor.

We are going to explain all the details you need to know to make the deadweight safely avoiding the most typical mistakes.

What is a deadlift?

A deadlift is one of the basic CrossFit movements that involves lifting a weight from the floor to hip level with the torso perpendicular to the floor, before placing it back on the floor.

Benefits of deadlift

It is an element of work that focuses on the strength and coordination.

It is an exercise that involves the whole body, as it requires the work of both the upper and lower body. The muscles used are:

  • back
  • trapeze
  • forearms
  • buttocks
  • hamstrings
  • quadriceps
  • cufflinks

Functional work allows for motor traction, which is much more powerful than working with a muscle in isolation. This means that you can do the exercises with more weight, more intensity, which results in a greater calorie burn.

Deadlift technique step by step

how to perform a deadlift
  1. Start behind the bar with your feet hip-width apart, place your hands on the bar outside your legs.
  2. Grasp the bar, which should be in contact with the shins. At this starting point the back is straight and the hips are above the knees.
  3. Initiate the movement by raising shoulders and hips at the same time to lift the bar off the floor. Push through the heels on the initial pull while the knees move back and the chest rises in unison. The bar should remain in contact with the body throughout the movement.
  4. The repetition is valid when the bar has been lifted off the ground and full hip extension occurs.
Starting position
Deadlift (Starting Position)
How to Deadlift
Deadlift (final position)

To chain another repetition, the same path is traversed on the way down, pushing the hips back and regaining the rigid neutral position of the torso.

With a progressive training, the deadlift is the lifting in which we will be able to load the bar further in comparison with others such as squat, clean, jerk or snatch PR.

Grip types

Prone grip

supine deadlift

The palm of the hand is above the bar.

Supine grip

supine deadlift

The palms of the hands grip the bar at the bottom. This grip is not used in CrossFit.

Mixed grip

mixed grip deadlift

Be one hand in pronation and one in supination to increase the feeling of grip security.

Common deadlift errors

Hip hyperextension

deadlift hip hyperextension

To obtain a valid repetition, full hip extension is required. Many people have a tendency to overextend the hips by bringing the upper body backwards and this gesture is totally unnecessary.

Do not fully extend the hip

In the opposite case, and usually when the weights are very high, the athlete lifts the weight off the ground, but does not achieve hip extension and remains cramped.

lack of hip extension deadlift

Deadlift tips

Mixed grip

Place one hand on top and one underneath, always closing the hand completely. It is a grip that gives more security especially when you start to increase the loads, there is less feeling of the bar slipping.

Protecting pimples

It is common for the rubbing of the bar across the shins to leave bruises and scratches on the skin.

To avoid looking like we have fallen down the mountain you can use shin protectors that can also be used when climb the rope.

If you do not want to expand your list of CrossFit accessoriesyou can wear high socks or give a double use to your socks. knee pads dropped at the ankles so as to protect the shins.

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  • Pair of 5mm neoprene shin guards for men or women
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Wearing a belt

When you are making a maximum lift or with an approximate weightthe belt can help you. I recommend you to read in more detail before buying a belt. this article to know how to use it.

Types of deadlift

According to weight

With traditional bar

This style is the one we have explained above. It is the most common in CrossFit workouts.

With kettlebell

kettlebell deadlift

A kettlebell is held in each hand and moved along the outer sides of the leg.

With dumbbell

deadlift with dumbbells

Follow the same movement pattern as with the kettlebell.

With hexagonal bar

The most different version of all the previous ones. This bar has a hole in which the athlete stands. The hands must be placed on the hexagonal bar handles on the sides.

According to variations in movement

Sumo deadlift

what is sumo deadlift

The feet are placed wider than the shoulders pointing slightly outward.

The hands are placed in the center of the bar.

This deadlift has less travel and usually allows higher loads than the traditional deadlift.

Sumo deadlift high pull

sumo deadlift highpull

To the sumo deadlift explained above, a pull-up is added that should raise the bar above the shoulders with the strength of the hips and trapezius muscles.

Romanian deadlift

Romanian deadlift

In this variant the legs are kept straight with the knees unlocked (with a small bend).

It is common to perform this exercise with dumbbells.

This variation places greater emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes.

Romanian to one leg

Romanian deadlift one leg

Keeping the supporting leg almost rigid, the deadlift is performed normally with a dumbbell.

Unilateral work helps to balance the forces of both legs by having to perform the exercise separately.

It is very useful as an exercise to work on knee stability.

With snatch grip

deadlift snatch grip

It is common for the snatch practice the movement is fragmented into small exercises. One of these fractions is the initial part of the snatch in which the bar is lifted off the ground.

To improve the grip, and the movement pattern, snatch is done with the hands placed in the snatch position.

With deficit

deadlift deficit

In this case the feet are placed on an elevated platform while the bar discs are supported on a higher level.

This increases the range of the deadlift.