It’s deadlift day at the gym. You grab the bar and start to lift, but you start to wonder: Am I using the right form? When it comes to deadlifting, proper form is more about mental focus and determination than just piling on more weight.

The deadlift is a true test of your mental toughness and overall strength. It’s a powerful full-body exercise that targets your glutes, core, and other major muscle groups.

Even a small mistake in your form can cause big setbacks and slow your progress.

That’s why this article breaks down the eight most common deadlift mistakes and shows you how to fix them, inspired by Coach Bigham’s Form Lab deadlift video.

Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid
Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid

The Importance of Proper Deadlift Form

Deadlifts are more than just a gym exercise—they’re a test of your functional strength and mental grit. A single mistake can set you back weeks or even months. That’s why getting good at them is crucial. Just like other functional workouts, deadlifts mimic real-life challenges, like carrying heavy backpacks while hiking or tackling tough chores.

8 Common Deadlift Form Mistakes and How to Correct Them

Laying the Groundwork: Deadlift Setup

The key to a successful deadlift is your technique. If your form isn’t right, you risk injury because your back has to handle the whole lift. Here are some common mistakes that can happen due to poor setup.

Mistake 1: Improper Foot Placement; Inactive Feet

Your feet are crucial for both balance and power during a deadlift. Many people use a wide stance thinking it’s more stable, but it actually messes with your balance and weakens your lift. A wide stance also neglects key muscles like your hamstrings and glutes and limits your range of motion.

Instead, your feet should play an active role in the lift. Whether you’re pushing through your toes or heels, consistency is key. If you let your feet shift or spin while lifting, you’re setting yourself up for trouble.

Solution to Poor Foot Placement and Inactive Feet: 

Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. This stance helps you balance and generate power more effectively. Make sure the bar is centered over your feet, with your shins about an inch away from it.

Keep your feet steady throughout the lift. No twisting or shifting from heel to toe—just a strong, consistent push into the ground.

Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid
Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake 2: Misaligned Shoulders

If your shoulders are out of place—either too far forward or too far back—you mess up your balance. This makes the lift harder and can increase your risk of injury. Keep your shoulders directly above the bar and locked in place, ready to handle the weight evenly.

Solution to Misaligned Shoulders: 

Before you start lifting, check that your shoulders are lined up with the bar. Picture a straight line running from the top of your head down to your tailbone. This setup helps ensure a balanced lift, so the right muscles are doing most of the work.

Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid
Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake 3: Incorrect Hip Movement and Angle

Coach Bigham is quick to point out that your hips play a huge role in your deadlift and can show you what’s working and what isn’t. There are two important things to keep in mind, and they’re basically opposites. Get either one wrong, and your lift won’t be as effective.

If your hips rise too quickly, your lower back takes on too much strain, and you’ll miss out on leg power. On the flip side, if your hips are too low, the bar will move forward and mess up your lift.

You need to find your “hip sweet spot” before you start lifting. This is where your legs are engaged and your hips are in the right position—not too high, not too low. Keep your hips down and maintain tension as you begin the lift. This way, your back and legs work together, making your lift stronger.

Also Read: Top Muscle Building Foods

Solution to ‘Hips Shooting Up Too Fast’:

If your hips rise too quickly during the lift, your lower back ends up doing too much work, and you lose power from your legs. To fix this, make sure your legs are tight before you start pulling. Coach Bigham suggests a helpful drill where your partner places their hand on your lower back to check your form at the start of the lift. This can help you engage your knee extensors more effectively, adjust your posture to use your quads better, and find the right angle for your back.

In general, keep your hips in the right position and your legs engaged before you begin the lift. Also, double-check that your setup posture is solid.

Solution to ‘Hips Too Low’: 

On the flip side, if your hips are too low, the bar might move forward, messing up your lift. Start by getting into your setup position and check your hip height. Often, if your hips are too low, it’s because your feet are in the wrong spot. Go back to basics: make sure your shins are about an inch away from the bar and positioned directly over the middle of your feet.

Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid
Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid

Slack in the System – Bar Movement and Position:

To nail deadlifts with perfect form, you need to keep a close eye on the bar. How well you lift depends on how smoothly the bar moves and how close it stays to your body. Ideally, the bar should move straight up and stay close to you.

If the bar doesn’t follow this path, the system gets loose. This makes the lift harder, less effective, and increases your risk of injury. It usually means your body isn’t moving in sync.

Common issues include mistakes with your arms, shoulders, or hips. If you notice the bar moving in an ‘S’ shape during your lift, it’s a clear sign that something’s off and there’s slack in the system.

Mistake 4: Pulling Instead of Pushing

Deadlifts mainly work your lower body, especially your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, though your lats get involved too. While it might seem obvious, some people mistakenly treat deadlifts as an upper body exercise, trying to “muscle” through the lift and focusing too much on their arms.

This approach not only limits how much weight you can lift but also increases the risk of injury. By overusing your biceps and forearms and neglecting your posterior chain, you’re not letting your legs do their job properly.

In the end, this mistake means you’re missing out on the full benefits of the deadlift and not using the right muscles for the movement.

Solution to Keep You Pushing: 

Deadlifts are mainly a lower body exercise, focusing on your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, though your lats play a role too. The main goal is to work those leg muscles.

Despite this, some people try to use deadlifts as a test of upper body strength, relying too much on their arms and “muscling” through the lift. This not only limits how much weight you can lift but also increases your risk of injury by shifting the focus away from your legs and onto your biceps and forearms.

In the end, this mistake means you’re not fully engaging your leg muscles and missing out on the benefits of the exercise.

Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid
Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake 5: Weak Grip

The idea of “Pulling vs. Pushing” is all about grip strength and how it affects your deadlift. If your grip is weak, it impacts whether your deadlift relies more on pushing with your legs or pulling with your arms. When you pull with your arms, your grip strength becomes a limiting factor.

A weak grip means you can lift less weight and hold the bar for a shorter time compared to if you’re pushing with your legs. Plus, relying too much on your grip can put extra strain on your wrists, potentially causing pain or injury when lifting heavy.

Often, grip issues come from not using a mixed grip or from holding the bar too wide or too narrow. In short, how you grip the bar is a key part of your deadlift technique and affects the whole lift.

Solution to Grip Issues:

Experiment with different grips to find the one that feels the most secure and comfortable for you. A mixed grip, where one hand is palm-up and the other is palm-down, can help you maintain a stronger hold and reduce wrist strain.

If you’re still having trouble with wrist strain, you might want to try using lifting straps. They can help take some of the pressure off your wrists, allowing you to focus more on your technique and building the right muscles.

Mistake 6: Squatting the Deadlift

One common mistake people make with deadlifts is treating them like a squat. When you do this, you end up focusing too much on your quads and not enough on your posterior chain, which includes your hamstrings and glutes. This not only limits how much weight you can lift but also means you’re not activating the right muscles. This mistake often goes hand-in-hand with issues related to hip positioning.

Solution to Prevent Squatting:

To fix this, make sure to push through your heels and use your hamstrings and glutes. Keep your back steady during the lift and make sure your hips don’t rise too quickly.

This way, you’ll use your whole posterior chain, leading to a safer and stronger deadlift.

Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid
Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid

The Importance of Stability in Deadlift Form

In deadlifting, stability is the key to power and efficiency. It’s more than just keeping your balance. Your spine and core help transfer force from your lower body to the barbell.

The result? Maximum lifting capacity while staying safe.

When your core is stable, every muscle group works better, reducing the risk of injury and boosting your lifting ability. Here are two things to watch for during the deadlift to maintain your stability.

Mistake 7: Not Engaging the Core

When you do a deadlift without bracing your core, you run the danger of losing stability, which lowers your lifting effectiveness and increases your risk of injury.

Solution to Brace Your Core:

Take a deep breath and hold it in before starting the lift to counteract this. By supporting your core and keeping your spine neutral, this technique—also referred to as the Valsalva maneuver—creates a strong foundation for the lift.

Mistake 8: Rounding Back 

Simply said, rounding your back indicates that your core is not being braced, but since it occurs so frequently during deadlifts, it is important to address this as a distinct problem.

Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid
Deadlift Form Mistakes to Avoid

A glaring red sign for possible spinal sprains and injuries is rounding your back. This improper form improperly distributes the weight, which greatly increases the danger to your lower back and makes it more difficult for your muscles to produce force.

Solution to Stop Rounded Back:

Use your core to fix this and keep your spine neutral during the lift. Imagine maintaining a flat back while bringing your chest up. By doing this, you can lower your chance of injury and preserve good alignment.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *