Hey Everyone!

So I have a real treat for you guys today!  A few years ago I wrote an article for EliteFTS.com titled, 4 Basis Exercises Most People Perform Incorrectly.  It was my first article for them and it ended up being a very popular article… so popular that I am working on a “Part 2 – Abs Edition,” and I decided to do an article for my blog where I consulted one of my brilliant friends for help. 

Not only am I in awe of his knowledge, but I am also impressed with his willingness to share their knowledge so freely with others.  

Today I am going to bring you a tip from one of my favorite people in the industry, Smitty, aka Smitty Diesel, aka James Smith.  Smitty has been in the industry for a long time and he is a huge influence to many other Coaches and Trainers.  I remember hearing my Coach, Mike Robertson, say:

“Man… he is just so smart!  I will call him up with an exercise idea and he will call me back an hour later and he will have 8 different variations of the exercise and they will all be awesome!  His brain just works like that.  He blows my mind sometimes.”  – MR

And I have to agree!  (well not about the part where I call him and he calls me back just to chit-chat training… I wish I were that level of cool!   Not yet!  But I am working on gaining the knowledge and experience to get even close to those guys!)

All that being said, you can read more about Smitty here and you can follow him on Facebook here and Twitter here



For the purpose of this blog post, Smitty dissects one of my favorite exercises: The Deadlift.  Read below as he discusses the major deadlift no-no’s and how to correct them.  Without further ado, here is Smitty talking deadlifts:

No Tension – Many times lifters set up in the bottom position of the deadlift loose and without much consideration for tension.  Then they try to pull the weight and their form immediately breaks down.  Tension is required for everything we do in the gym and is more important as the weights increase.  Tightening your entire body – sometimes called intermuscular coordinationirradiation or co-contraction – will lead to increases in strength, keep you in a good position throughout the lift, and help to reduce the potential for injury.  Remember, more tension equals more strength.

Immobility – Unfortunately, most recreational lifters and athletes have poor movement.  Poor movement can be defined as poor mobility or even lack of stability through a specific range of motion.  For strength training, we need both mobility and stability to properly perform any exercise.  And if we don’t have it, our form breaks down and we lose our ability to create tension – this is when injuries occur.  For the deadlift, we need the sufficient mobility in the hips, upper back, and ankles, as well as, proper (core) stability during the movement – in accordance with our individual leverages (also called anthropometry).  Dynamic mobility movements coupled with core (torso) stability and strength, will help to improve the setup and execution for the deadlift.  As a side note, if a lifter can’t setup in a good position off the floor, move the bar up to a high rack pull position and progressively work your way back down as they demonstrate proficiency at each level, i.e., this is called the top-down training approach.

Push, Not Pull – One fantastic cue I use to help keep a good position off the floor is to stop thinking about pulling a deadlift.  Many times during the first pull, a novice lifter’s hips will shoot up and their lower back with round.  This might be a weakness issue or just simply a technique issue.  Try this instead.  Have the lifter get setup with a great amount of full body tension and lock their torso in place – by tensioning their entire posterior chain, bracing their torso and engaging their lats.  In this position have them “push” the ground away and drive up as if they’re doing a leg press.  Many times this will fix a majority of issues at the start and allow them to begin the movement safely and with the greatest potential.

Don’t Be a Jerk – As the bar gets heavier, you’ll often see a novice lifter “jerk” the bar off the floor.  They are trying to use momentum to overcome their lack of strength.  This is a recipe for disaster.  Have them “squeeze” the weight off the floor with complete control.  This is done by starting the movement with deep-belly breathing, creating intra-abdominal pressure and using this bracing to create a high degree of full body tension.   Dive bombing into the bar and jerking the weight is going to get you hurt eventually and wreck yo’ back.  Properly sequencing the setup will also help.  It should go like this:

Find neutral standing posture => deep-belly breathe => develop intra-abdominal posture and brace => hip hinge with neutral torso (only far enough to grab the bar) => grab the bar => TENSION and lock torso in place => drive the ground away =>  LOCKOUT => hip hinge with neutral torso until the bar is at the knees again => return bar to the floor => REPEAT until AWESOME.

For some great videos on how to deadlift, check these out:


How to Deadlift:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nRRlk6264I

Deadlift Lockout: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUDZ4K5Om-A&feature=plcp

Fixing the Deadlift:  http://youtu.be/ZXfa3-SZNtI

Hip Hinge:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmO86A2gXMI

For some other great articles on how to deadlift, check these out:


How to Deadlift: http://www.dieselsc.com/how-to-deadlift

Teaching Hip Hinge: http://www.dieselsc.com/learning-the-hip-hinge/

 Author:  Jim Smith | Strength Coach and Proud Dad | dieselsc.com



Many thanks to Smitty for taking time out of his busy schedule to write this post for my little blog!  Like I;ve said before, you knowledge and willingness to share that knowledge with others always blows me away!  Thanks again!

***(and you guys please show thanks by visiting his website and liking his Facebook page!  I promise you will constantly be learning great information from him!)

Did you learn anything new from this post?  Did Smitty clear up any misconceptions for you?  Do you still have any unanswered questions?  Let me know below!  Thanks for reading and please share!


8 Responses to Common Deadlift Mistakes from Smitty Diesel

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