6 Errors and Corrections in Deadlift Technique


Seasoned athletes have no problem moving in certain ways, whether on the field/court or in the weightroom; but many things can go wrong with the movements of younger, less experienced athletes. We often hear the word “corrective movement” and think about things like the Functional Movement Screen, but that is not what I am referring to here. What I am going to cover are ways to help improve certain lifting movement patterns in the weight room that will correct technique issues and lead to bigger lifts. Let’s start with my favorite, the deadlift.


I’ve written previously on the most common error I see in deadlifts. Below are a few more errors and ways to correct them.

Error #1 – The hips rise before the shoulders

They should rise at a similar rate.You see this a lot with inexperienced athletes who put more emphasis on knee extension at the start of the lift. The hips lift up before the shoulders/chest rise and the load is placed almost completely on the lifter’s spine. NOT GOOD. This is especially true if full knee extension is seen at lift-off, before there is any tension placed in the posterior musculature (hamstrings and glutes).

Fix #1 –

Coaching the athlete to “lead with their chest” a little more, which will help the spine remain constant at lift-off.

Fix #2 –

Telling the athlete to put more emphasis on contracting the glutes and hamstrings before lift-off (pre-loading). This will allow them to use the hips as they should be used and place less emphasis on knee extension, using the quadriceps.

Fix #3 –

Make sure the bar is close to the body. The further away the bar is from the body, the harder it will become to keep the hips from rising too early.

Fix #5 –

Strengthen the hamstrings and glutes if all else fails! They can NEVER be too strong 🙂

Error #2 – The knees are too far forward/hips are too low at the start

Note: This position would look like the start position of a clean (picture above). This is probably the biggest difference of the starting position between the two lifts. 

Fix #1 –

Push the knees back until the shins are nearly vertical. This helps keep the bar closer and uses the hips to a greater advantage.

Error #3 – The lumbar spine flexes too much during the lift

Note: We could spend much time talking about rounded-back deadlifts, but let’s save some time and I’ll just refer you to a great article from Bret Contreras. If you choose to let your back round, be sure it is your thoracic spine that rounds, not your lumbar.

Fix #1 –

Strengthen your lumbar erectors with movements such as RDLs, back extensions, and reverse hypers.

Error #4 – The spine is not “set” at the start

Fix #1 –

Focus on finding a position that allows your spine to be in a neutral position. Once in that position, isometrically contract your back musculature shortly before lift-off.

Error #5 – The bar comes away from the body

Fix #1 –

Contract the lats to pull the bar in toward the body throughout the movement.

Fix #2 –

Strengthen the upper back musculature, including the lats, so that it is strong enough to support the lifted load. This helps to keep the bar closer throughout the lift.

Error #6 – Not breathing properly

It is extremely important to breathe, right? It’s kind of essential for…umm…living. It’s even more important to get breathing right when under extreme loads. I wrote a post awhile back on breathing in the deadlift.

These are just a few problems associated with the deadlift and fixes that will help improve lifting performance. Stay tuned for the next post in this series, where I will cover the back squat.


The ideas, comments and materials presented herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion or otherwise.

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