Improve Your Deadlift Set Up

Tanksey Deadlift
Alex Tanskey pulling 545lbs

The hip hinge is a skill everyone needs to learn and master. From deadlifts to kettle bell swings, the hinge is a go to movement in the gym and our everyday lives. Down through the years while working with general population and athletes sprinkled in for good measure, I have seen people struggle to find their start position for a hip hinge movement, most notably the deadlift. Here is a set up protocol that will instantaneously tap into your optimal hip hinge position.

This is a slightly modified version of “The Reach’ that Mike Robertson talks about in his ‘Physical Preparation 101″ DVD set. A few of my colleagues and myself have had fantastic results using the cue “Reach to Hinge”.

First of all, lets delve deeper into what this set up actually looks like.

In the video above, my Training Room colleague, Alex Tanskey (thats his warm up set btw) uses the reach to sit into his hip hinge prior to a sumo deadlift.

From a coaching standpoint, cues that can help include:

“Soft knees”

“Reach in front as you push your hips back to the wall behind you”

As you can see in the video above, Alex keeps his head in a position that helps him maintain a neutral spine. He is not looking up and in the process, cranking on his cervical spine.

Feedback is key here. If you are using this set up protocol, you should feel a light “hamstring stretch” in your hinge position. Hamstring feedback tells you that you are not squatting, a common mistake in a hinge movement.

deadlift set up
Image courtesy of starting strength.

As you can see above, we are aiming to obtain the middle position every time. With feet shoulder width apart, the reach will allow you to check the boxes of a good hip hinge.

  • Slight knee bend
  • Hips above knees and lower than shoulders
  • Head down, neutral spine
  • Can feel hamstrings in start position

This modified version of the “Reach” incorporates more of a soft knee position to start. This is a fantastic tool in the set up for kettlebell deadlifts, trapbar deadlifts, barbell deadlifts and kettle bell swings.

Give it a try and see if it can help improve your hip hinge.



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