How To Correctly Warm Up For A Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the most effective exercises you can perform in the gym. To get the most out of next deadlift session, make sure you are warming up correctly. In this article, we not only provide a warm up, but also explain how we designed it, so you can start to make your own deadlift warm ups.

6 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
Last updated

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In This Resource
  • Warming up for the deadlift has two phases
  • Sample General Deadlift Warm Up
  • Thought Process Behind the General Warm Up
  • Skill Based Exercise
  • Hamstring / Glutes Specific Exercise
  • Core Exercise with Hamstring / Glutes Emphasis
  • Warm Up Sets
  • Do You Really Need a Prolonged Warm Up?
  • Should I Never Perform A Long Warm Up?

Warming up for the deadlift has two phases

  • General Warm Up
  • Warm Up Sets
  • Sample General Deadlift Warm Up

    Complete 3 rounds

    1. Deadlift

    Complete 10 repetitions

    2. Single Leg Crossbody Straight Leg Deadlift

    Complete 6 repetitions

    3. Inverted Plank

    Hold for 60 seconds

    *Perform the deadlift with the empty barbell.

    Thought Process Behind the General Warm Up

    Skill Based Exercise

    Performing the actual exercise with a very light weight will help both find your groove in terms of skills, but also all the other key elements of a warm up, like neuromuscular activation and increasing core temperature.

    Hamstring / Glutes Specific Exercise

    The hamstring and the glutes are the main muscles which will be used to lift the weight from the floor, so using a warm up exercise which puts emphasis on these muscle groups will be highly beneficial for warming up for the squat. Here I have given multiple examples of this style of exercise that you can use to differentiate your deadlift warm ups.

    Core Exercise with Hamstring / Glutes Emphasis

    I like to use core exercises in my warm ups (when i’m not short on time) as the core will be heavily involved in almost any movement we perform when using free weights, so warming it up it important. Also it is very effective at increasing body temperature, especially the use of static holds.

    Warm Up Sets

    Warm up sets are a crucial part of the warm up, although I have been coaching for over 10 years, people still manage to shock me when they ask if they need to do a warm up set before a working set. If your working set is 60% or more you definitely need to do a warm up. I do not think it is required to use percentages, just pick what naturally makes sense for the lifter and their working set.

    I coached a female of 45 years old who is a doctor this morning, this is only the 5th time we have done back squats and the plan was to do 5 x 5 @30kg, she was particularly tired, so we did multiple warm up sets and then made a decision whether to proceed with the session written, these warm up sets were:

  • 15kg x 10
  • 20kg x 5
  • 22.5kg x 5
  • 5 x 5 @30kg (Working Sets)

    That is a total of 3 warm up sets.

    Let’s look at another example of someone performing a session of deadlifts for 5 x 6 @70% and his max is 170kg.

  • 60kg x 5
  • 100kg x 5
  • 5 x 6 @120kg (Working Sets)
  • In this situation I felt only two warm up sets were required and we had already lifted the empty bar in the warm up.
  • Do You Really Need a Prolonged Warm Up?

    No, a lot of articles similar to this and articles and general information about warming can make it seem as it there are 5 different steps to go through when warming up, the cardiovascular phase, mobility phase etc etc. This just isn’t needed for a deadlift session, you need to warm up for 5 minutes using a simple circuit as seen above, then you need to build to your working weight in a manner that seems sensible (not making huge jumps), it’s really that simple. I think at some point a long the way the warm up became a way for a coach to illustrate they were more knowledgable by making it longer and more complex. A great coach should know that a quick, efficient warm up that the client can perform in 3-5 minutes will be enough to prepare for the session to come.

    Should I Never Perform A Long Warm Up?

    Although I am against performing long warm ups, they might be needed in some instances, if you just got off a 10 hour flight and are doing your session since travel, maybe you’ve been ill the last week but still want to sneak in a strength session because your recovering well. If you have some period of long sedentary travel, period away from training or you’re coming back from injury, or even when you just slept really badly, then sometimes doing an extended warm up is a great idea. That will mean taking exercises away from the end of the session to ensure the session isn’t too long. All this being said, if you need to warm up for 30 minutes, maybe you shouldn’t be training or your session is too challenging to face.

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    This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

    Sean Klein


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