April 2020 – by 1Rebel


Alright rebels, let’s talk deadlifts. We LOVE a deadlift. Why wouldn’t you? They build a strong posterior chain; that’s the bum, hamstrings and back, all the gear that holds us together. Plus, you sound like a beast when you ‘tsssssssss’ as you rip the weight up. Chances are, as was the case with me, there might be a few small adjustments you can make to your setup and positioning to get a more efficient lift. More efficient means moving better and moving better means you can add more weight and a go for an all out badass workout.


Let’s start straight away with your conventional deadlift, or Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (RDL), as that will be the one you’re more likely to see in sessions. A strong RDL deadlift starts with your setup. 

1. Get those feet hip width apart and plant them like you’re screwing your feet into the floor, think about pushing the ground away with the weight in the centre to the outside of your foot. 

2. Dumbbells should go to the side of your body rather than in front, this gives you a stronger back and shoulder set up and means you can load more onto the hamstrings and glutes.

3. Shoulders back, chest open, Imagine you have a piece of string attached to your bum and someone is pulling it, push that bum back, hinging from the hips, keeping a soft bend in your knee (it’s like a secret bend only you should know it’s there).

4. Trace the dumbbells down your legs towards the floor keeping them close to your body while pushing your hips back .

5. Follow the motion slowly, like you’re bowing, keeping your eye-line about a metre in front of you, neck long and your back flat. This part is key and a common deadlift mistake. It can help to imagine a plank of wood running the length of your spine, and keeping it there throughout the movement. In the below photos, you want to be aiming for the one on the right – notice the straight line from my neck all the way down to my bum.

6. Everyones range and depth will be slightly different, but aim for just below the knee as a general guideline. Wait for the fire, engagement and tension down the backs of your legs, then push your feet down into the ground and drive your hips forward, squeezing your bum at the top. 

Boom, that’s your deadlift.


Outside of 1Rebel sessions, if you’re wanting to load up a barbell, keep that same principal of setup. Gripping the bar with hands shoulder width apart, keep the barbell as close as you can to the body, plank of wood along the spine. Take the tension from the bar before you pull, brace your core, chest open and drive up. As you get more confident and the movement starts to feel more comfortable, have some fun adding weight (safely of course, no egos up in here 😉). 

You can also play around with different grips. Over/under hand grip is one option (one hand pronating, other supinating, for better grip when the weight gets heavier), but when starting out, try to practice with over hand grip to work on that initial grip strength & build strength in those forearms.


Now let’s talk sumo. So your sumo deadlift is a wider stance, feet positioned outside of the shoulders and toes pointing outwards at an angle (about 30-40 degrees), think like a sumo wrestler 🤷🏼‍♂️. When you bend down to the bar your shins shoulder be vertical (knee over ankle). The sumo deadlift enables you to get your hips lower to the ground but requires more from your inside thighs.

If you’re using dumbbells, keep the weights between your legs 🍆 and apply the same principle. If using a barbell, hands need to be slightly narrower than a conventional deadlift. All stances are personal preference and work the body differently, find which works best for you and experiment with both. 


For all my runners out there, your strength training should be a priority to produce more power in your stride and for general injury prevention. We always think the squat is our go to for any strength training (which is ace, squats work your legs and your legs are kinda important for running), but deadlifts are gonna be less abrasive on your knees and are going to build the body to exert more power through the hips. As someone who runs, I’m telling you, you need to be deadlifting. 

Overall, Deadlifting is FUN. If it’s something you’ve been avoiding it’s time to add it to your leg day. This is not me advocating you now loading up and maxing out a barbell in the gym, or going full on in your Lower Body & Abs sesh, but more go give your body a new challenge and give it an incentive to change. It’s SO gratifying and enjoyable to push your body in a new way – just like hitting a new sprint speed, deadlifting is deffo one of them.

Go get it Rebels.

Andy x

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