WSBB Blog: Conventional Deadlift Set Up 101

WSBB Education
Tue Feb 23, 2021

Tags: Deadlift, StrengthConjugate

Time to Read: 5min

When it comes to the deadlift, many lifters believe that all you have to do is “grip it and rip it bro”, but this universally respected lift isn’t that easy. If you want to deadlift the type of weights that rank with the best in the world you will not only need maximum levels of strength, you will need maximum proficiency during your movement. Any wasted movement can result in increased time under tension, increasing the likelihood that you fail the lift. Below, we will go over a few tips and tricks to get yourself in position to pull heavy deadlifts as proficient as possible.

Foot Placement

Much like the squat, the deadlift is another lift that relies heavily on correct placement of the feet. Failure to have your feet correctly placed will result in a loss of power and the inability to display maximal strength. Just as it was with the squat, foot placement is individual specific for the deadlift.

When watching different strongman and powerlifting competitors deadlift, you will inevitably see a few different styles of conventional deadlifts. Some lifters prefer their legs closely together, some prefer a shoulder width or standing width approach, and some lift with a form that looks to be a cross between conventional and sumo. Take the time necessary to find which one of these stance widths allows for you to move the most weight efficiently.

The next factor to consider when placing the feet is how far to position the feet under the bar to dictate shin distance at the start. Ideally, you want the start of the deadlift to create contact between the bar and the skin of the shin. This allows for maximum posterior chain activation where it needs to be, the glutes, hamstrings, and lumbar paraspinals, and reduces the shearing forces on the spine.

To find your correct foot position, it is recommended to place the foot halfway under the bar, picture the bar cutting your foot in half if you are looking down. From there, use light weight reps to adjust either closer or further from the barbell to get the correct under the bar foot placement allowing for correct shin contact with the barbell.

Hand Placement

Where you grip the barbell is almost as important as where you place your feet. The correct grip will allow for you to use all of the arm length you have to shorten the range of motion of the deadlift, which allows for easier hip extension during the lift. The suggested grip width would be right down the side of your legs, with your hands gripping the bar right beside your calves as you begin the lift.

Be sure to keep your arms properly locked out, this will allow for you to get the maximum range of motion relief from your grip, as well as save you from tearing a bicep.

The deadlift is an extremely simple movement in execution, you’re just picking a barbell up. However, being able to execute the movement while lifting the heaviest amount of weight you can possibly move takes movement intuition and an intelligent set up. Don’t be fooled into thinking all you have to do is grab the bar and pull as hard as possible.

Set yourself up properly, move efficiently, and make the heavy weights look light.

For further information regarding how we train the deadlift at Westside Barbell, go to the online store to purchase Lou’s deadlift manual.

Squat and Deadlift Manual