Skip to main content

Deadlifts or Die

By March 14, 2019October 23rd, 2019No Comments

Okay so the name of the blog is a bit intense but I do feel strongly that deadlifts are an important exercise for everyone to be doing regardless of age and goals. 


When I say the word “deadlift” you probably think of this:



But what you should actually think of is this:


All of these people are doing a deadlift in some form. Deadlifting doesn’t have to mean lifting 500 pounds, but it does mean picking up your child, picking up the laundry basket, moving a piece of furniture and strengthening your glutes, hamstrings and core.


But won’t I hurt my back deadlifting? Well sure you could, if you try to lift more weight than you should with poor form. However, doing ANYTHING with too much weight and poor form will lead to injury. Almost all of my patients and especially my patients with back pain learn how to deadlift properly. And guess what…they actually get better from doing deadlifts.


When teaching the deadlift I always start from the “top down” and break it into it’s most basic elements. We start with pelvic tilts and learning how to find a neutral pelvic position. We then move onto the hinge, which looks like this.

[kad_vimeo url=”″ ]

It is unweighted (or we use a PVC pipe in place of a barbell) so the patient can learn kinesthetic awareness and make mistakes without the fear of injury. Learning how to control the pelvis while hinging at the hip is very difficult for most people and the inability to do this is usually what leads to lifting injuries.


Once the basic hinge is mastered, we move on to the Romanian deadlift – where the patient starts from the top position and performs a hinge until the bar is at the knee and then returns to the starting position. This allows the patient to focus on only the “top” portion of the deadlift and is honestly the hardest part. Once the patient has demonstrated correct positioning and self awareness consistently then we can move to the full deadlift.


Deadlifting also does not have to be with just a barbell, there are many variations which can and should be use to train the body in slightly different ways. Deadlifts can be done with a kettlebell, medicine ball, hex bar, dumbells, cardboard boxes…the possibilities are endless.


I also want to note that deadlifts and especially Romanian deadlifts should NOT feel like primarily a low back exercises. Yes, the muscles in our low back will be working but the abdominals, glutes and hamstrings should feel like the primary muscles being used. It is okay to feel some low back soreness the next day, but again this should not feel like pain and should subside within 24-48 hours.


If you are new to deadlifts I do caution you to progress slowly and take a lot of time to learn how to control your pelvis and perform a hip hinge with a PVC pipe. I will be putting out a deadlifting progression that will help you learn how to safely progress through the movement.


So do you want to run faster, jump higher, play with your kids and do house chores without pain? You need to be deadlifting. Remember, deadlifting doesn’t have to mean lifting a 500lb barbell  (however if that is your goal then go for it!). Deadlifting simply means picking up an object from the ground to hip level while maintaining a neutral pelvis and spine. Deadlifting also has no age limit- we can always change the load and/ or range of motion to safely practice the movement!


Leave a Reply