This is one of the most popular exercises in fitness used in weightlifting, bodybuilding, powerlifting, and strength and conditioning. This exercise is often measured to help gauge total-body strength, and competitions take place all around the world to judge the amount of weight someone can deadlift. Additionally, the barbell deadlift is used in all facets of fitness, considering we need to be able to pick things up and down off the floor our entire lives.

Beginner considerations:

If you have a history of back injuries and/or pain, please consult your doctor or therapists—you will need to proceed with extra caution. A solid hip-hinge pattern and thoracic extension are two very important pieces to a good barbell deadlift.

Best practices:

  • This exercise is all about a proper hip hinge. Initiate movement with your hips, keeping your back flat like a table, and have a strong grip on the bar.
  • “Bend the bar” is a popular cue, as this provides a strong setup and helps engage the lats and upper back.

Master This: Barbell Deadlift

  • With your feet about shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward, hinge your hips back and grab the bar sitting on the ground in front of your feet.
  • Driving your feet firmly into the ground with a solid grip on the bar, maintain a long spine throughout the entire movement as you stand up driving your hips forward. Finish by standing up tall in a vertical position.
  • Hinge your hips back to descend the bar back down to the floor, and repeat for your desired amount of reps.

Make it easier: Perform from a rack position. You also can sub the barbell for a center-hold kettlebell deadlift.

Make it harder: Increase load or number of reps.

Photo credit: Tom Casey,
Model: Krista Jacobs, 24 Hour Fitness