Ooh, the Deadlift! Such a good exercise, but very tough when done properly. Most people do deadlifts incorrectly because they don't know what proper posture for the exercise looks like. Before reading on with how to perform a Deadlift properly, make sure you understand Anatomical Neutral Posture (in the 'Workout' section). The Deadlift makes you bend at the hip, not at the lower back. Let's learn.
Start by grabbing a straight bar with some weight (not real heavy), holding it in both hands. You should make sure that you are in Anatomical Neutral Posture before you start (chest up, shoulders back, feet pointing straight forward, etc). Make sure you start with an arch in your lower back, because that it going to be very important as we do the Deadlift. Standing real tall with knees slightly bent, lean forward (bending at the hip!) while holding onto the bar. If you were to look at a mirror to either side of you, you should see that your lower back is staying arched and that your knees are only slightly continuing to bend. Keep your shoulders back, stopping once your lower back begins to become straight/round. If you go down too low you will hurt your lower back; do not go down and allow your lower back to round, keep it arched! Squeeze your glutes (butt) as you come up, which will also tighten your hamstrings. Stop once you are standing as straight up as tall as possible, and repeat.
When done properly one should feel a pull in their hamstrings. This is good because most people have strong quads and weak hamstrings, making this a great adition to any exercise routine. This could also be performed with free weights in either hand or one one foot with no weights. Again, no pain in the lower back should occur. If you feel like the muscles in your lower back are tightening that's ok, but stop if it begins to hurt. You may want to have someone watch you perform the movement the first few times to make sure your back is staying arched/never rounding. And always activate your glutes on the way up, for that will also build the strength in your butt and actually also improve your balance.
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