I did my first "real" deadlift today, and, it's a very different feeling. Unlike a squat or a bench, where I clearly feel myself pushing against something, when I deadlifted (135 lbs, about what I'm squatting), I just kind of stood up. When I was done, I was sweating and exhausted, but I didn't feel the push-higher-higher I do when doing other lifts.

Am I doing it right? What is a deadlift supposed to feel like?

4 Answers 4


The short answer is that you aren't deadlifting enough to really feel anything. You can pull more weight on a deadlift than just about any other compound exercise. The big thing to concentrate on is:

Keep your back straight.

Concentrate on keeping a rigid back as you lift the bar up. Pull all the slack out of your body before initiating the pull. And add more weight.


You didn't feel like you were pushing anything because you weren't. You're holding on to something and standing up. Most of the time a heavy deadlift feels to me like squeezing everything tight, locking it in place, and standing up.

Once you get real heavy--one and a half times bodyweight, probably, but your mileage may vary--you'll feel a "higher-higher-higher-come-on-stand-up" feeling. Right now you're not close enough to your maximum to get that.


On the deadlift I feel like I'm pushing against the floor more than I am pulling up on the bar. I also really feel it in my forearms, holding onto the bar is a bit of a struggle.

There's a good deadlift guide on Stronglifts: http://stronglifts.com/how-to-deadlift-with-proper-technique/


I don't know if it's "supposed" to feel like anything in particular, but it may take some time to develop the mind/muscle connection if you're unused to specifically activating the deadlift muscles.

It also matters which style of deadlift you're doing, for example, there are differences between stiff-legged deadlifts (erectors, hips, butt, some thighs) and "traditional" deadlifts (same plus a bunch more, great overall exercise).

You'll also want to make sure your form is pretty dead-(lift)on, you're "blocking" appropriately, and so on. Having someone to work with when doing an exercise like the deadlift is pretty important since the risk of a back injury is greater than with a lot of other exercises--slipping a disk is unpleasant, I'm told.

That you're ending up feeling pretty worked leads me to believe you're doing "traditional" deadlifts. Since it's an-almost-entire-body exercise, you won't necessarily feel the "I'm working this specific muscle" feeling you get from more-targeted movements like the bench or squat.

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