You can go to the gym and watch people deadlift and see so many different ways that people set themselves up. For beginners and experienced lifters alike it can make things confusing to know what is right and what is wrong when it comes to getting yourself set up to perform the lift and that is even before you go online and try and look up what people say out there on websites and lifting forums. When it comes to the starting position of the bar, it can be hard to know what is correct. Hell, even I have changed where the bar is positioned over time as available information has changed with research and experience. So when you ask the question, “where do I set up the bar for my conventional deadlift?”, here is the simple answer…
- Step up to the bar and position the heels hip to shoulder width apart
- Turn the toes slightly out
- Set the bar over the top of the mid foot about 1 inch away from the shins
The legs are in simplified terms, made up of axis points and levers. Setting the levers to work efficiently to lift a load. Starting with the bar over the mid foot allows for a better hip hinge, knee flexion position, and shin angle at the set up while simultaneously allowing for the bar to clear the shins and knees when lifting the weight from the ground. When trying to lift a heavy weight, the last thing you want to do is excessively bang and grind the bar into your shins or knees while forcing the bar to track around the leg instead of move in a more vertical direction.
For most (everyone’s body is different), placing the bar against the shins at the set up for the conventional deadlift can push the hips back affecting bar path, leverage, and the moment arm of the hips, all of which affect your ability to lift a load. It is okay for the shins to touch the bar when deadlifting, but this comes when the bar is set up in the correct position over the mid foot and you lower down to grip the bar. When you do this, the shins angle forward toward the bar. Shins touching the bar is incorrect when you are walking up to the bar and place the shins against the bar before you hinge down to grip the bar.
Set yourself up for success. Keep it simple. Keep it consistent. Walk up to the bar. Place the heels hip to shoulder width apart. Turn the toes slightly out. Set the bar over the top of the mid foot. Engage the rest of the body. Lift.