I asked my gym instructor to check my deadlift form last night and he said I was doing it wrong. According to him:

  • My hips were too low at the starting position - he says the hips should be as high as possible (the legs almost straight but not locked, remaining like this for the whole movement)
  • The bar should not touch the floor
  • Use a mixed grip

On the way down, I feel my hamstrings stretching because my legs are so straight doing it like this. (I'm not naturally flexible and its hard for me to touch my toes) All the effort in this movement seems to come from the lower back

Is he plain wrong, teaching me a different kind of deadlift, or correct?

What's the correct way to deadlift?

  • 2
    What he's teaching you might be a variation to work on lower back and hamstrings... but that's not what you asked for. He's 1 for 3 for a standard deadlift: the mixed grip is a good idea.
    – G__
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 13:22
  • 3
    I was taught this as a straight leg deadlift - the purpose being to work on your lower back (similar to good morning but without the possibility of neck strain). It is not proper deadlift form at all, and may cause injury if you go as heavy as you would with a normal deadlift. See priktop's answer. Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 14:29
  • @nearly @Greg thanks! My hamstrings were in agony (the good kind) for a few days so they deffinately got a good workout! I think ive fixed my form now
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 10:30
  • Mixed grip is not a good idea outside competitions. This I was told by someone who is world champ deadlifter in the heaviest class. The reason is you get a rotation which is not good. It can produced both injuries and non symmetric strength
    – Øyvind
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 18:00

2 Answers 2


Mehdi wrote a nice article about this question.

Always start with the bar on the floor. Pulling from the safety pins is a Rack Pull. Deadlifting top down is a Romanian Deadlift. With conventional DEADlifts the bar must always start on the floor. Here’s how to Deadlift in 5 easy steps:

1 . Stand with the bar above the center of your feet – your stance should be a bit more narrow than shoulder-width to give your arms room.

2 . Grab the bar overhand so your arms are vertical to the floor – if your hamstrings are tight, do Squat 2 stands to boost your hip flexibility.

3 . Bend through your knees until your shins hit the bar which must remain above the middle of your feet. Shoulder-blades directly over the bar.

4 . Lift your chest but don’t squeeze your shoulder-blades like on Squats. Just put your shoulders back & down, head inline with rest of your spine.

5 . Pull - keep the bar close to your body, roll it over your knees and thighs until your hips and knees are locked. Do not lean back at the top.


  • 1
    Nice answer @priktop!
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 13:31
  • Hi @priktop, thanks for the help! I have been practicing and got up to 3 reps of 95kg (bodyweight 70kg). I'm happy with my form now and it feels good but I always end up with massive red bruises all the way up my shins... is that expected?
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 10:26
  • One tip that helped me correct my deadlift is to imagine you're not pulling the weight, instead you're pushing your feets into the floor when you lift.
    – ldx
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 9:43
  • @rmx Yes, this is expected. When properly deadlifting, the bar should literally scratch your shins, that's why it is a good idea to wear pants not shorts for a deadlift session. The reason for that is that your trying to keep the bar as close as possible to a straight vertical path and avoid creating any lever.
    – ruslaniv
    Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 6:43

Mehdi's article is good, but there are some subtle things that are not emphasized in that article which are spelled out in great detail in Rippetoe's Starting Strength book. If you are experiencing scraped up shins, the following tips will help.

  • The bar wants to travel in a straight line perpendicular to the ground. If you have the bar too far out in front, you will experience pain as the bar swings in.
  • The bar should be about midfoot. See Medhi's instructions in step 1 for more detail.
  • Your hips will be higher than with squats, but your knees will bend until the shins touch the bar (without it rolling)
  • Straighten your knees first. This is a strong movement that will get the bar off the floor, and clear the path for the bar to get over your knees.
  • Straighten your torso second. The back should be perfectly straight with the head in a neutral position. When you set the lift your shoulders are back and the chest up.
  • To put the bar down, bend at the torso first until the bar is below the knees. Then bend the knees until you are in the starting position again.
  • The bar should not be scraping your body, nor should it be way out in front. Medhi's instruction #5 is what is causing the red bruises and scrapes.

These subtleties helped me improve my deadlift tremendously and made weights that felt heavy before seem light now.

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