How To Do Deadlifts At Home

Plenty of people choose to exercise at home rather than at the gym or in a class situation. The reasons for this can vary from body consciousness to time constraints.

There may be those who wish to get fit without the responsibility of taking on another monthly expense with a gym membership. Whatever the reason for wanting to work out at home rather than in the gym with the other fitness bunnies, you shouldn’t compromise on your form.

If you work out alone, you’re more likely to do some moves incorrectly because you don’t have other people to show you or trainers to coach and correct you. In this situation, you might be risking injury which will set you back in your fitness journey. 

Never fear, though, because if you’re taking your exercise into your own time and space, help is at hand. The deadlift is a staple move of gym dwellers, and there’s no reason why you can’t do them correctly in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

We’ll show you how to do a perfect deadlift with the correct form and alignment, so you can minimize the risk of injuring yourself.

How To Do Deadlifts At Home

Before You Begin

Before you start your home weights workout, it’s good to make sure you have all the equipment you need to hand. Most people do deadlifts with bulky barbells that you’re used to seeing at the gym.

In case you aren’t familiar, barbells consist of one long pole on which a set of weights is attached at either end of the bar. The idea is that you grip the space in between the two sets of equal weights.

You can pile on as many weights or as few as you want, but if you’re a beginner, don’t overdo it. Start off light and gradually increase the weight as you go.

Barbells are bulky for a home gym, though, so don’t despair if you don’t have any. You can do deadlifts with dumbbells or kettlebells if you want to, or even bottles of water. Many people find these are more space-efficient and cost-effective than investing in a set of varying weight barbells. They don’t store so easily. 

In addition to making sure you have the right equipment, you also need to know where you should feel deadlifts to make sure that you’re doing it right and to think about the strain on certain parts of the body that are associated with deadlifts.

Deadlifts are great for strengthening the legs, glutes, forearms, back, and core, but if you have weak or compromised joints then the move may not be suitable for you. It can put a strain on your lower back, shoulders, and knees. This is why the perfect form is vital for an effective deadlift, which will work multiple muscle groups at once. 

How To Do The Perfect Deadlift

It’s a good idea to do the move without any weight to start, so you get the feel for how it should be done and how it feels when done correctly. If you’re using a barbell, then just hold the bar without any weights on them. 

Barbell Deadlifts

  1. Stand behind the barbell with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Position yourself so that your feet are almost touching the bar. 
  2. It’s important to keep your chest lifted during the entire exercise to make sure your flat back is correct. With this said, make sure you are not pushing your chest out and arching your back in an exaggerated way. Your spine should be in one straight line, as this exercise involves hinging from the hips and bending the knees, not curving the back. With your chest lifted, bend your knees and sit back in a squat position. Ensure your back is straight. 
  3. Hinge forward to grip the barbell. Most bars have textured areas where the hands should grip to ensure they are well-balanced between the two weights. 
  4. When gripping the bar, use an overhand grip, so your palms are gripping the bar while your knuckles are facing you. 
  5. Keeping your spine straight and engaging your core, push your hips forward as you lift the bar, so you are assuming a standing posture. Keep the bar as close to your shins, knees, and thighs as possible as you lift the weight, so it’s not too far in front of you. 
  6. End the move with your shoulders back and your legs, hips, and back all in one straight line. Hold the bar with straight arms. 
  7. Keeping your back straight, hinge forward from the hips to return to your starting bent-knee position. It is good practice to do this move in front of a full-length mirror once or twice, side-on, so you can check that your knees are going no further forward than your toes when you are squatting down. 
  8. Repeat the exercise. Aim to do 4-6 repetitions and between 3-5 sets with a short rest between each set. 

Dumbbell Deadlifts

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, as above. Position your dumbbells parallel to each foot outside your step. 
  2. Bend your knees and sit back to do a squat. Ensure you are keeping your back flat and not arched. 
  3. Pick up the dumbbells with your palms facing your ankles and your knuckles facing away from you. 
  4. Push your hips forward and adopt a standing pose. Make sure you move in a controlled fashion and do not jerk. Keep your dumbbells close to your shins and thighs as you stand. Keep your arms straight and your shoulders back. 
  5. Now repeat the move as per step 8 above. 

Kettlebell Deadlifts 

  1. Start by standing up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. If you are using two kettlebells, then position them on the outside of your feet. If you are using a single kettlebell then put it slightly forward but equidistant to both your feet. Make sure the grab handle is parallel to your hips, so you can grab it with two hands easily.
  2. Sit back into a squat hinging forward from your hips with a flat back, Grip the kettlebell(s) with your hands. If you are using one kettlebell then ensure your knuckles are facing away from you and your palms are toward you. If you are using two, then your knuckles should also be facing away from you and your palms should face your legs. 
  3. Straighten your legs and squeeze your glutes as you return to a standing position. Keep your arms locked and straight and make sure your shoulders are back without arching your back. 
  4. Hinge forward and sit back into your squat to repeat the exercise. Aim for 4-6 reps and 3-5 sets. 

Top Tips

  • Engage your core throughout. During the move, make sure you consciously engage your abs and core to stop putting too much strain on your back muscles and spine. 
  • Do more reps with less weight. If you find you can’t do 5 reps with the weight you are using, then you probably have too much weight on. Take it down a notch and go a little lighter. It’s better to do more deadlifts with less weight than fewer deadlifts with more weight. 
  • Keep it smooth. Don’t jerk when doing deadlifts, as this can lead to injury. You should be working your muscles, not relying on momentum to get you through. 
  • Keep your back straight. Your back should never curve or arch in this exercise. Use your back muscles and core to help you keep the spine in a straight line throughout. Focus on hinging from the hips and bending the knees deeply rather than curving the back.  
  • Don’t bend your elbows. Some people are tempted to bend their elbows as they stand up to work a different arm muscle group. We discourage this though as it can lead to split focus and poor form in the lower half of your body. Instead, try alternating a set of deadlifts with a set of squat presses, which will help your biceps develop further without compromising the perfect form of your deadlift. 

Final Thoughts

There is no reason why you can’t do a perfect deadlift in the comfort of your home, without a fuss or any trainer yelling at you to keep pushing. The important thing to remember is to check your own form regularly.

It’s easy to get lazy with a deadlift after a while, but this will put unnecessary stress on your back, and you won’t get the full benefits of doing regular deadlifts. Our advice is to keep it neat, keep it correct, and keep bossing your home workouts.

Kevin Harris
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