Common Deadlift Mistake: Squatting the Weight

The deadlift is one of those exercises that seems so simple, yet there are a lot of things that can go awry and one winds up with an injury or, at best, a wasted set.

One of the more common mishaps is turning the deadlift into a squat instead of performing a hinge pattern.

First, what is the difference between a squat and a hinge?

Dan John’s definition will do nicely:

Squat- maximal hip bend, maximal knee bend



Deadlift- maximal hip bend, minimal knee bend



Why do we want to hinge instead of squat?

Well, for starters, that’s what the squat is for…

Seriously, squatting the weight during a deadlift does several things:

Takes the emphasis off the hamstrings and glutes. The quads do pitch in a bit during a deadlift, more so in a trap bar deadlift, but really, the bulk of the work should be performed by the hamstrings and glutes. This is not good because...

Decreasing the power of the hams and glutes typically means you’re leaning forward a bit too much on your toes and your torso is too upright relative to the bar. It’s now more likely that the lower back is going to jump in there and then you’re in a whole mess of trouble because...

Of the torso angle, you have a decreased ability to brace well and stabilize the spine and we all know that causes...

A sore back and not a whole lot of benefit for the effort exerted and finally...

It’s awkward- the bar bangs into the knees on the way up and down and it feels like wearing your shoes on the wrong feet.

Let’s take a gander at what the difference looks like:


This athlete’s torso is really long for his body, so he will look a little more squatty compared to a longer-legged individual.

Notice the position of the shoulder blades, they are behind the bar in the first example when he squats it, and then directly over the top when he gets into a better hinge pattern. This is a key indicator of squatting vs hinging in a deadlift. You WANT the shoulder blades directly over the bar as that’s the most mechanically advantageous position.

Now we know the difference between the two; film your next deadlift set and do a form check on yourself. If you want to know a related deadlift mistake, the hips popping up too much, you can watch THIS video.