The Conventional Deadlift: A Guide to Proper Form and Technique

When it comes to building strength and functional fitness, the deadlift is on par with squats in terms of importance. Think about your daily activities and how often you find yourself bending down to lift objects from the floor. Both squats and deadlifts are essential for performing these tasks effectively. In fact, there are instances where the deadlift may even be more suitable than squats.

In this blog post, we will explore the key techniques and considerations for mastering the conventional deadlift, enabling you to enhance your strength and minimize the risk of injuries.

Proper Foot Placement and Bar Positioning

To perform the conventional deadlift with accuracy, start by positioning your feet shoulder width apart. After placing the feet, slightly angle them inward to prevent the knees from collapsing inward during the lift. When grasping the barbell, opt for a pronated grip (overhand grip) on the outside of your knees. It’s important to avoid using an alternative grip, as it can cause uneven stress on the spine and raise the risk of injury.

Maintaining a Neutral Spine and Engaging Core

Muscles Throughout the entire movement, it is paramount to maintain a neutral spine, including the neck. Engage your core muscles and focus on “packing the shoulders” by depressing and retracting the scapulae. This optimal shoulder position creates a strong foundation and reduces the risk of injury during the deadlift.

Proper Lifting Technique and Breathing Patterns

Before initiating the lift, ensure that there is a slight gap between the bar and plates. Prior to lifting the entire weight, close this gap by lifting the weights slightly and aligning them with the barbell.

During the upward phase of the deadlift, exhale to promote spinal stability instead of inhaling. Be cautious not to overarch the lumbar spine (posterior pelvic tilt), as this may activate the gluteus maximus to a greater extent in the short term but can lead to long-term damage to the lumbar spine.

Image from Outpostcrossfit

Maintain a neutral spine throughout the lift and inhale during the downward phase. It is common for individuals to hyperextend their necks (head up) to view themselves in the mirror, but this should be avoided, particularly if you have a tight neck. Remember, a neutral spine encompasses the cervical spine to the lumbar spine.

Image from TCA Performance


Mastering the conventional deadlift is a transformative journey that unlocks tremendous strength and functional benefits. By understanding the proper foot placement, bar positioning, and maintaining a neutral spine, you can optimize your deadlift technique while reducing the risk of injuries. Additionally, be mindful of your breathing patterns and avoid unnecessary strain on your lower back.

If you experience back pain during conventional deadlifts, consider incorporating the trap bar as an alternative, as it places less stress on the lower back. Embrace the power of the deadlift and elevate your strength training to new heights.

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