3 Tips for a Better Deadlift

3 Tips for A Better Deadlift
-Clark Hibbs

Ah yes, the deadlift. The word itself might strike fear in many, but it is honestly one of the safest movements you could actually perform.

I mean, think about it… you deadlift every day.

Did you pick up a kid today? Deadlift.
Did you pick up a purse or bag? Deadlift.
Did you pick up… well… anything? Deadlift.

Unless you’re a Jedi (which would be pretty cool), you’re more than likely having to physically pick something up every day. That’s why we train this movement. We don’t do it just so we can video it and post on Instagram… we do it so that way we can be safe in every day life whenever we’re picking up *anything.*

We all have that story about how someone bent down to pick up the paper, or a toothbrush, or something, and then they couldn’t get back up… right? If we can train the deadlift properly, we can ensure that this will never happen to you.

So we’ve got 3 tips for a better deadlift today. Let’s get into it.

1) Keep your grip closer together

The standard distance for your hands on a barbell is about a thumb-width outside your legs. Think about it like this… make an “L” with your left hand. Now put the point of your thumb on the seem of your pants on your left leg. Voila! That’s about how far out your hands usually are. This is a good “home” position because it transfers well into other lifts we do.

-Power Cleans
-Hang cleans
-Shoulder presses or overhead presses
-Bench press (yup, even bench!)

But if we’re just looking for a better deadlift, or a way that we can optimize that, we can change our grip a little bit.

Make that same L again. Now, tuck your thumb into your palm like you just made the number 4 sign with your hand. Now, put your hand all the way again your leg, bringing your grip in even closer.


I know, not mind-blowing or anything, but this does have it’s benefits. When the soul purpose of a movement is to lift something off the ground to a standing position, we want to keep the body in as compact of positions possible. By keeping the hands in a bit closer, we’ll have longer arms to lift with (better mechanical advantage), as well as less space between our armpits whenever we’re holding the weight.

Everything staying close and compact = a very good thing!

Next time you go to pull the bar for a deadlift, keep those hands a bit closer than usual!

2) Pull Your Ribs Down

A big fault that we see in our squats –> an over-extension of the spine. You’ll see this when someone looks like they’re trying too hard to stick their butt back on their squats. This isn’t a *terrible* thing, but it’s not as optimal or safe. We want to keep our spine neutral and braced. If we are sticking our butts back like it’s Friday night at the club, we’re putting ourselves at risk for lower back injury. One of the cues we do to fight that over extension in the squat is to say “pull your ribs down.” By pulling the ribs down (essentially doing a standing crunch), you can keep that spine straight and neutral throughout the entire squat!

Same can be done for the deadlift.

Next time you go to get set for your deadlift, don’t start just by getting down and grabbing the bar. Instead, start from a complete standing position.

-Get your feet set (approximately under your hips)
-Get your grip set (oh hey! we just talked about that!)
-Perform a standing crunch and pull those ribs down
-Hold that position as you hinge your hips and press your hips back
-Grab the bar keeping that back flat and ribs pulled down
-Squeeze those abs for dear life, push through the floor with your legs, and stand that sucker up!

You’d be surprised at how much better your deadlifts feel whenever you keep a straight and neutral spine rather than over-arching. Give it a shot next time you address the barbell.

3) Do More Midline Accessory Work

You don’t even have to deadlift to make your deadlifts better! If we simply do more to strengthen that core (so we can hold a better neutral spine), we’ll be able to perform better, stronger, safer deadlifts.

Here’s a little Midline Accessory work you could do before or after the gym next time you’re in.

3 rounds of:
-15 back extensions on the GHD
-:30 GHD sit up HOLD (no actual sit up… just a hold in an outward plank position facing up)
-:20 side plank each side
-10 Deadbugs (make sure you pull your ribs down during this entire movement)

Not sure about any of these moves? Ask a coach to help!

So there you have it. 3 simple things you could do to have a better deadlift. Bring those hands in a bit closer, make sure that rib cage is pulled down during the lift, and keep up the midline work before or after class and you’ll be lifting stronger and safer for SO much longer.

We’re rolling strong into February, and you’re still reading these emails and posts. Thank you so much for doing that. I hope all of these help you out in some way!

-Clark Hibbs



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