A: Pretty good? Thanks for the backhanded compliment! The truth is that I work damn hard on my deadlift, and in return it works for me—helping me add muscle over my entire body. It’s a terrific exercise, one of the most anabolic of all. By using so much muscle in one movement, it increases your body’s secretions of growth hormone and testosterone, but the key is to perform it carefully.
If you use poor technique, you’ll get injured, which will kill whatever progress you hoped to gain by using a too-heavy weight in the first place. It won’t just kill your deadlift—a screwed-up back will prevent you from doing heavy squats, shoulder presses, rows, among other exercises.
Here’s a quick overview of proper form: For starters, I prefer to do the conventional deadlift—with feet at about hip width—as opposed to the sumo style, with feet spread wide. It’s a more mainstream setup and most often used by lifters.
Standing with your feet a hip width apart, grab the bar outside your knees. Your hips should be slightly higher than your knees, placing tension on your hamstrings. Keeping your back flat and spine straight, stand up with the bar. Be sure to use all your muscles in unison so your body works as a unit to start the lift.
Once you pass your knees, push your hips forward, allowing for a violent hip extension and getting maximum glute recruitment. Move to the full standing position so your body is erect. It’s not necessary, however, to lean back at the top.
Lower the bar under control, reset yourself with the weights resting on the ground, and repeat for the desired number of reps. Do not bounce the bar off the floor between reps.
Editor’s note: Ben White won his first IFBB professional bodybuilding contest, the Tampa Pro, in 2010. He is also a champion powerlifter and frequently competes in the World’s Strongest Bodybuilder contest at the Olympia. His best competition bench press is 711 pounds. He is an MHP athlete, www.MHPStrong.com. IM