The deadlift is the most effective way to build full body strength to limit the impact that goes through our joints and solve chronic joint pain. However, if done without attention to form it can actually cause more pain…the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve. Which is why it’s so important that we take the time to really learn this movement from the ground up.
In this article we’ll teach you, step-by-step, how to do a deadlift safely and effectively to build the strength and confidence to solve chronic joint pain.
Start With The Hinge
Step #1 to mastering the deadlift is building an understanding of the hip hinge movement. The hinge is the most important functional movement pattern and the foundation for the deadlift movement. Take your time to learn, understand, and practice the hip hinge before moving onto the deadlift.
Transition Movement #1: The Weighted Hip Hinge
Once you feel confident with your hinge movement you can start transitioning to the deadlift. There are two exercises I use to accomplish this. The first transition exercise is the Weighted Hip Hinge. This movement will help to further ingrain the hip hinge pattern while you get some experience of what it feels like to add some weight. Start light before you go to heavy. To perform:
- Hold weight in front of you with both hands and arms relaxed.
- Brace your abs
- Perform the hinge movement
- Allow weight to pull your STRAIGHT down while you send your hips BACK. Weight should move in a straight line (avoid letting weight move forward).
- Stop movement the second you feel tension in your hamstrings (to keep a neutral spine and avoid rounding at your back)
- Bring hips forward to return to starting position and repeat.
Watch the video below for more on how to perform The Weighted Hip Hinge
Transition Movement #2: The Elevated Kettlebell Lift
Once you feel comfortable with the hinge you can start to move to the deadlift exercise. Before moving weight to the ground, it’s helpful to practice lifting weight from an elevated surface. Keeping the movement in the hips helps you practice th deadlift without the knee component, which can be tricky for some. To perform the Elevated Kettlebell Lift:
- Start with weight on an elevated surface (from 12-24″)
- Place feet on outside of weight. Toes should be in line with weight. Avoid lining up too far back.
- Brace your abs.
- Perform your hip hinge, sending hips back until your hands reach weight.
- Grab weight and return to starting position.
- Set weight back down by performing another hinge. Repeat.
Watch the video below for more on how to perform The Evelvated Kettlebell Lift
The Kettlebell Deadlift
Finally! Once you feel confident with the hinge and elevated lift you can move to the deadlift movement. I start everyone with a kettlebell deadlift (vs. a barbell deadlift) because it’s easier to control and you can start with a lower weight. To perform the kettlebell deadlift:
- Place feet on outside of weight.
- Perform hinge by reaching hips back.
- Once you feel tension in your hamstrings and can’t go any lower without rounding your back, bend your knees to reach the weight.
- Before lifting, make sure to keep your hips down and chest up.
- Develop tension in your hamstrings by slightly lifting hips (keeping chest up).
- Brace your abs.
- Press through the floor to lift the weight and return to standing position.
- Lower weight back down with weighted hip hinge, bending at the knees when tension is felt in hamstrings.
Watch the video below for more on how to perform The Kettlebell Deadlift.
Learning how to deadlift without pain requires building a solid movement foundation. This step-by-step approach will help you feel confident and comortable so that you can deadlift with aggravating joint pain. So take your time, be patient, be safe and before you know it you’ll be stronger than ever.
Learning, understanding, and practicing how to do a deadlift is just one of many ways to limit the impact that goes through our body and help solve years of joint pain. Be sure to download our free program ‘Solving Pain With Strength’ to help you get started on your strength training journey.