How to Set-Up to Deadlift Properly

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I’m throwing you a curve ball today, and starting what I hope will be an on-going series of video blogs here on

My hope is that:

1.  I’m able to better convey the information I’m trying to relay to the masses. Writing is one thing, and I feel I do a decent job of not sucking at that. For many, though, they’re more visual learners, and this is the perfect medium for those types of people.

2. 2012 is looking to be the year where I put on my big boy pants and start doing more speaking engagements. The way I see it, video blogs will help me hone my skillz and hopefully teach myself to not swear like a sailor, stop saying “um” every other sentence, and to stop USING MY HANDS WHEN I TALK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!!!

3. And, more importantly, save my fingers from all of this damn typing!

Anyways, the catalyst for today’s video blog stemmed from my incessant (maybe un-healthy?) obsession with deadlifts. But more to the point, it stemmed from various questions and comments I’ve received on articles and blog posts I’ve written in the past concerning how to set-up for the deadlift properly.

Sometimes, things are just lost in translation, and I figured a video would help elucidate my thoughts more clearly and showcase some simple coaching cues I feel will benefit a lot of people.

The tipping point, however, came when an online client sent me a video of his deadlift set-up and I had to do everything in my power not to face plant into my keyboard.

It was bad. Like, “how is his spine still in one piece?” bad. And with that, I knew I had to do something other than write back “Um yeah, you need to stop doing that.”

The result?

How to Set-Up to Deadlift Properly

A few things to note:

  • I feel the set-up is something that many trainees take far too casually.  Let me be blunt:  deadlifting success and performance starts and ends with the set-up.  Foot placement, bar placement, learning to activate the lats, as well as hip placement all come into play. With the latter point for instance, people tend to set their hips either too high, where their lower back takes a beating, or they set up too low, and it turns more into this weird, squat/deadlift, hybrid thingamajig.

Hopefully this video clears some of the murky water.

  • Thanks to Kyle for being my model (and for the sweet Presidential-like wave in the background when being introduced).  Also, thanks for Marco for being Spielberg’esq with the camera work.
  • My goal was to do this sucker in one take. I succeeded. In re-watching it, though, there were definitely some “did I just sat that?” moments (did I just say “finger Kyle?” Dammit Tony!). Trust me, I’ll get better. Promise.
  • I’d love to get your feedback, so please feel free to comment below.  In addition, I’d also be interested in ideas for future installments. Is there anything you’d like to see covered?

Okay, I’ll shut up now.  Here’s the video:

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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