The deadlift is one of the touted “Big 3” lifts and is an excellent option for building the back. However, it is very common to see beginning lifters practicing this exercise at a mechanical disadvantage and putting unnecessarily stress on their lower backs. It is very important to ensure that the setup of this lift is appropriate.
Position your feet halfway underneath the bar, to the point where, if someone were to be looking at your setup from the side, it would appear as though the bar is running through the middle of your feet. Your feet should be at a comfortable width (try just outside of shoulder width) and your toes can be pointed slightly outwards. Reach down and grab the bar (using either a double overhand or alternating grip depending upon your preference). You may find that using the alternating grip will allow you to hold more weight as you train. Sink your hips down until you shins are physically touching the barbell in order to put yourself into a mechanically leveraged position (this will take a great deal of stress off of your back). Make sure that you are looking directly ahead. If you are looking down throughout the exercise, there is a chance that your hips will lift up and you may lose form.
Now you are set up and ready to go. When performing this exercise, do not imagine that you are pulling the bar off of the floor. While the deadlift is technically “a pull”, trainees who imagine that they are pulling the bar off of the ground often raise their hips up too high at the outset of the motion and drop their heads down. This, in turn, causes them to attempt the entire lift with only the strength of their backs. Concentrate instead on standing up with the bar in your hands and leading the motion with your head thrusting upwards while keeping the body erect. As the bar rises above your knees, thrust your hips forward. Once you are fully standing up with the barbell in your hands, control the weight down to the floor and repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.