What Is A Conventional Deadlift
Arguably the most popular of the deadlifts, the conventional deadlift is a full body exercise that places greater emphasis on the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and erector spinae, and can be used to build both strength and muscle mass.
By taking a narrow stance, this movement challenges you to lift a dead weight off the floor with good form, strength, and mobility. The conventional deadlift closely mirrors movements in everyday life, so building strength in this movement can help to reduce risk of injury.
The conventional deadlift can be used with dumbbells or a barbell. If you’re using a barbell, you’ll need to load it with bumper plates to ensure that the bar is elevated off the floor. Using plates that are too small will mean the bar is too low which will have an adverse effect on form. If you find yourself with plates that are too small, you can elevate the bar using plates on the floor.
If using dumbbells, it’s important to note that the dumbbells will not touch the floor like a barbell would. Instead, lower down until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings before pushing back up. Make sure to keep your arms strong to avoid the weights swaying with the movement.
Commonly Asked Questions On Deadlifts
When performed correctly, deadlifting is great for strengthening almost every muscle in the body, making it an exercise which can improve overall strength and reduce injury.
However, deadlifting with bad form can cause issues with your back. We share how to prevent this from happening below. It's also a good idea to spend time perfecting the form before increasing the weight you lift.
The deadlift is a compound exercise which can help to build strength and muscle in the lower body, back, shoulders, and arms.
If your goal is to visibly improve muscle mass, make sure to progressively overload your workouts each week, get enough rest, and have plenty of protein.
There is no single exercise that will burn belly fat, and in fact we cannot spot reduce fat unfortunately! As a compound exercise, deadlifts do burn calories and can help to build muscle which is key for anyone who is trying to lose weight.
Conventional Deadlift Tips
While the conventional deadlift can help to reduce injury risks in everyday life, it’s important to master the correct form so you target the intended muscles and avoid placing too much pressure on the lower back. Maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement will ensure most of the load is being lifted by the lower body muscles.
A neutral spine refers to keeping your spine straight to prevent it from flexing. To do this, you’ll need to focus on sitting into the deadlift, lifting your chest, and pulling your shoulder blades together.
Another important aspect of the deadlift is bracing your core. Like maintaining a neutral spine, bracing your core helps to protect your spine during the exercise. It also contributes to stability and balance, so you can place greater emphasis on the lower body.
How to brace your core: before lifting, take a breath then breathe out and push your stomach outwards as if somebody were about to punch you in the stomach. Hold this until you reach the top of the movement, before breathing out as you begin to lower the barbell to the floor.
How To Do A Conventional Deadlift or Barbell Deadlift
Approach the barbell with a hip width stance as if standing ready to take a jump straight up in the air. To ensure that your feet are in the correct position, consider where your shoelaces are tied and stand with them directly under the bar.
Once you’ve found your stance, push your hips back and bend your knees to grip the bar just outside of hip width, next to your shins. We would advise using a pronated grip (both palms facing downward) to avoid muscular imbalances.
Some people prefer a mixed grip as it can allow you to lift more weight and avoid grip fatigue, however it’s important to swap the grip of each hand over to avoid imbalances.
Once you’ve found your grip and stance position, you’ll need to ‘pull the slack out of the bar’. This refers to creating tension between your body, the floor, and the barbell to help maintain technique throughout the lift, minimise injury and prepare the body for lifting.
To do this, keep your feet planted and your grip on the barbell strong before bringing your hips down to sit back into the deadlift and pinning your shoulder blades back.
The final preparation for the deadlift requires the chest to lift and the scapula to be retracted. To do this, sit further into the deadlift – your hips sit higher than your knees but lower than your shoulders.
To lift your chest up, pull your shoulder blades together as if you’re trying to hold a pencil between them. You’ll want to try and keep your shoulder blades in this position for the entirety of the lift. With your chest up and scapula down, your shins should now be vertical to the floor and your armpits sitting directly above the bar.
Your set up is now complete and you’re ready to deadlift! Keeping the barbell as close to your legs as possible throughout the lift, take a deep breath in, allowing your stomach to push outwards and your core to become rigid.
Drive down through both feet – imagine pushing the ground away from you, similar to how you would when using the leg press machine. Be patient as the bar starts to lift off the ground – your hips and knees should extend at the same time.
As the bar rises, push your hips forward and squeeze the glutes and hamstring as you reach full lock out of the hips and are standing tall.
To reverse the deadlift, maintain your neutral spine with the shoulder blades pinned back before pushing your hips back and hinging until the barbell passes your knees.
From this position, bend the knees and sink your hips so that the barbell is back on the floor again. Think about performing a sumo style Romanian deadlift until just past the knees before flexing your knees to place the barbell back on the floor.
Before starting the next rep, reset your positioning and revisit steps 3 and 4 to ensure you’re ready to lift again!
If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.