Of all the exercises you could be doing, the deadlift is arguably the best. That’s a big statement but if you think about all the characteristics that make up the deadlift you’ll be hard pushed to disagree…

1) The deadlift is a ground-based exercise which means it is very functional and has a beneficial impact on virtually all running and jumping activities.

2) No special equipment is required – just a barbell and some weights.

3) No spotters required – if you miss a rep, you only need to drop the bar. Unlike the squat and bench press, you can’t get “stapled” by a missed rep.

4) The deadlift works virtually every muscle in your body; the most notable exceptions being your pecs and triceps. That’s easily remedied by doing some bench press, dips or press-ups.

5) Deadlifts teach proper lifting technique; something everyone needs to know.

6) The deadlift is one of the best butt exercises around.

7) The deadlift is the most honest way to test your strength. There is no specific range of movement to judge; you can either lift it or you can’t!

8) Want a bigger, stronger, thicker back? Do deadlifts.

9) The deadlift is easier to learn than many other big exercises including the squat and the power clean.

10) Deadlifting heavy weights is FUN!

Of course, it’s not all chocolates and roses when it comes to deadlifting; the amount of weight that you can lift means that there is a high risk of injury if you attempt to deadlift with anything other than good technique and even relatively low weights can prove injurious is lifted incorrectly.

It’s beyond the scope of this article to teach you how to do the deadlift; really you need hands-on coaching for that. However, here are TEN technique tips that will help you dial in your deadlift for maximum effect…

1) Stand with your feet hip-width apart to avoid having to use too wide a grip. This minimizes the range of movement and sets you up for a stronger pull. Very wide stance deadlifts, called sumo deadlifts, is a different movement altogether are used by some powerlifters but are not applicable for most general exercisers.

2) Grip the bar as tightly as you can. Crushing the bar activates your entire nervous system and makes you stronger via something called irradiation. The more thoroughly you can activate your nervous system, the more weight you’ll be able to lift. Use a double overhand grip or a mixed grip as preferred but you’ll probably be stronger using a mixed grip.

3) Make sure you can see your chest in the mirror. Lifting your chest will cause your lower back to arch. Combined with tightly braced abs, this arch will ensure your lower back is in as safe a position as possible for lifting heavy weights. Rounding your lower back is a sure-fire path to lower back injury.

4) Bend the bar around your knees. Obviously you won’t actually be able to bend the bar like that but trying to will activate your upper back muscles which will ensure you have maximum shoulder girdle stability. This will minimize your risk of injury and help plug any potential energy leaks.

5) Never let your hips rise faster than your shoulders. If your hips are moving up but your shoulders (and therefore the weight) are stationary, you are a) wasting energy and b) risking injury. If this happens to you, you are trying to lift more weight than you should and you need to strengthen your lower back and core.

6) Drive your hips forward. Once the bar is moving and has passed your knees, you need to shove your hips forward to finish the lift. This doesn’t mean you need to lean back though. Drive your hips forward as though you were doing a standing long jump and keep driving until you are upright.

7) Do not attempt to bend your arms. Unless you want to pull a biceps of course. Your max deadlift weight should significantly exceed your max curl weight anyway and trying to bend your arms will not help you complete your rep.

8) Start each rep from a dead stop. Bouncing the bar off the floor at the end of each rep makes this man-making exercise easier and easier is never better. Lower the weight to the floor, reset your start position and repeat. That slight pause is what makes the deadlift the deadlift – you are starting from a dead stop.

9) Be aggressive. Don’t snatch at the bar but, likewise, don’t cuddle it either. You need to be aggressive for successful deadlifting. Rip the bar up off the floor and keep pulling until you have it locked out. Try to move the bar explosively even though its mass will be resisting your every effort.

10) Low reps beat high reps every time. High rep deadlifts may leave you gassed and your heart pumping but high reps also cause potentially injurious form break downs. Personally, I like to keep my deadlifts down to ten reps or less with the sweet-spot being three to six-reps. If you want more volume, do more sets so instead of doing four sets of eight reps, do eight sets of four reps. You’ll get the same quantity of reps but the quality will be much higher.

Now you know how to dial in your deadlift, all that’s left for you to do is load up the bar and get lifting!