Breaking Down The Deadlift

by NickPapastamatis 4552 views Training

Breaking Down The Deadlift

There’s no better feeling than performing a heavy deadlift. I can still remember the day I cracked 200kg. Considering I’m a chiropractor barely tipping the scales at 80kg I was pretty happy. I can also tell you I was leaving plenty of weight on the floor.

I know this because my technique is far from perfect. If I want to get stronger I need to work on my form right?


Every week I have patients asking me how to increase their max deadlift. I think most of them expect me to say “You need to work on your technique”.

It’s true, that will definitely help.

But first you need to consider if you are performing each rep for maximum benefit

You’re not out to impress everyone in the gym with a max lift every session. No one likes that guy who hogs the platform, loads up their barbell then releases it from the top every single rep.

You Should Never ‘Drop’ The Bar

Deadlifts give you a massive neurological drive, which transfers into multiple movements. The power generated through the glutes and hamstrings from raising the weight off the ground is phenomenal. It’s what’s required to run faster and jump higher.


Many people forget stability and muscle strength is challenged most while controlling the weight down. This is when your posterior chain and postural muscle really start to strain.

There are benefits to both components of the lift.
So why does everyone focus on lifting the weight up?


When the bars on the ground you take your time to prepare. You walk up to the bar, settle into position and control your breathing before you lift.

Should you not concentrate just as much on lowering it properly?

If you focus on controlling the bar down, you will increase your workload dramatically. It forces your muscles to work in an eccentric and asymmetric way.

This is how the postural muscles actually work!

They don’t function that well concentrically.

Now for those who are technically minded, I want to quickly break down a couple of the main differences in muscle involvement between the two phases of the deadlift


Your Glutes and proximal Hamstrings function to create hip extension.


As you break hip extension into flexion you need to eccentrically contract the distal hamstrings, postural muscles and spinal erectors. This creates a more stable environment for your glute and hamstrings to fire the hips into extension again.

This is by no means exhaustive. It doesn’t take into consideration the lats, thoracic spine, shoulders and more...

It just highlights why you need to focus on both lifting and lowering the bar.


Whilst smashing a heavy deadlift off the floor feels fantastic

If you don’t lower it properly you won’t get stronger!

Important Side Note

If you have spinal problems or asymmetries, it will soon be found out lowering the weight slowly. Whilst it is not the reason you should control this phase it’s a great way to identify what you need to work on with your physio or healthcare practitioner. 



Every person, every body, every injury is different. Correctly identifying the problem (soft tissue/joint/neurological) determines how you need to tackle it. It is these principles that allowed me to open 6 successful clinics within three years and have the opportunity to work with Olympic Weightlifters, NRL players, Australian Crossfit Representatives and more.

ViewNick's Articles