The deadlift can help you build great strength and muscle mass. This compound exercise mainly targets your lower back while also engaging your legs, glutes and forearms. When performing deadlifts, your back must remain straight with a tight arch from your neck to your tailbone -- rounding up or flattening your back strains it too much, making it prone to injuries. If you can't maintain the arch in your back, you might need to reduce the weight you're lifting. For the best results, learn proper form and consult your doctor before engaging in strength training.
Perform repetitions and sets according to your physical fitness level.
Perform deadlifts in front of a mirror so you can monitor your form.
Alternatively, use dumbbells to perform deadlifts.
Consider hiring a trainer to teach you proper form if you're new to exercise.
Load a barbell with the desired weight and place it horizontally on the floor in front of you. If you're new to deadlifts, use light weight to develop proper form. Once you master this, gradually increase the weight.
Position your feet under the barbell bar, spread them shoulder-width apart and point your toes slightly out or forward.
Bend your knees, push your buttocks back and lower down just enough so you can grasp the bar with extended arms and a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Your hips should be higher than your knees. Avoid letting your knees go over your toes, keep your back straight with a tight arch and make sure the bar is touching your shins and is positioned directly under your shoulders.
Use an overhand grip, in which your index, middle, ring and little fingers go over the bar and your thumbs wrap behind the bar to meet them. If you're using a challenging weight, use an alternating grip, in which one hand is holding the bar with an overhand grip and the other is holding the bar with an underhand grip, in which the index, middle, ring and little fingers go under the bar and your thumbs wrap over the bar to meet them.
Tilt your head back so your chin sticks out and your eyes look upward. Avoid looking down, because this might cause you to round your back and lose your form.
Inhale, push your heels into the floor, contract your abdominals and extend your legs and torso simultaneously.
Exhale as you lift the weight up toward your upper thighs, making sure your head leads the movement of your body -- your head comes up first.
Pull your shoulder blades back so your chest slightly sticks out at the top of the exercise and your glutes contract. Hold this position for one second.
Bend at your knees, bring your torso forward and push your hips back to return the bar to the floor. Avoid dropping the bar down -- use slow and controlled motions.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.