Deadlifting Safely

A careful, strategic approach to deadlifting.

QUESTION

What is your take on the deadlift? My trainer wants me to avoid it.

ANSWER

At heart, I’m a powerlifter and I love the feeling of holding a ton of weight in my hands. But I don’t do the traditional deadlift anymore. For me, pulling off the ground is just too risky.

Instead, I do another favorite exercise: rack deadlifts. To perform rack deadlifts, set the safety bars in a power rack just below knee height. With your back straight, pull the weight until you’re in a standing position with your hips in line with your shoulders. Then carefully lower to the start position, bringing the weight to a dead stop. Don’t throw the weight down and bounce back up—if you’re doing that, you’re taking the tension off the back muscles.

 FLEX LEWIS' BACK WORKOUT 

Wide-grip Pulldown / 5* sets / 20–10 reps

Close-grip Pulldown / 4 sets / 20–12 reps

Machine Pullover / 4 sets / 15 reps

Wide-grip Pullup / 3 sets / To failure

Seated Pulley Row / 4 sets / 15–12 reps

Rack Deadlift / 4 sets / 12–6 reps

T-bar Row / 5 sets / 15–10 reps

*Preceded by three warmup sets

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