Simple analogies to use when coaching the deadlift to beginners

Simple Analogies to use when coaching the deadlift to beginners

Deadlifts come in many shapes and sizes and can be used with just about anyone to enhance a multitude of physical qualities. One of the most effective ways I have found to get beginners to understand and perform the deadlift correctly is by using analogies.

Analogies are priceless tools to have in your toolbox when coaching. The cool thing about analogies is that they have the ability to form crisp pictures in our minds, pictures that are familiar, relatable, and easy to comprehend. Here are some simple analogies to use when coaching the deadlift to beginners.

Problem: Client keeps bringing his hips too low

Analogy: Don’t touch the Porta Potty

A common problem people have is differentiating a hinge movement from a squat. If this is a common occurrence with your client try using this analogy.

P.S This analogy works especially well for females!

porta potty.jpg

Me: “Have you ever been to the fair and have had to use a Porta Potty?”

Human: Yes..?

Me: Perfect, OK so when you approach the bar I want you to pretend that you are hovering over the top of the Porta Potty. Your main objective is not to let your bum hit the disgusting seat of the Porta Potty. You just want to hover over the seat, this is where your hip should be.

Human: OMG Yes I get it!



Problem: The bar tends to float away from the client as they are pulling

Analogy: Use the bar to shave up your legs

Beginners when performing the deadlift sometimes lose tension in their back when getting ready to pull and the bar will float out in front of them. Try this analogy.

Me: “Have you ever shaved your legs before?”


Male : “Umm no…” (Proceeds to point to his hairy legs)

Me: I want you to pretend you are an Olympic swimmer with the most hairiest legs in all the land. You will lose the race with all this hair due to the extra drag, it must go. The barbell represents a giant razor. You need to use this giant razor to shave up your legs as you push into the ground to lift the bar.

Male: Alrighty! (Proceeds to lose all of his hair on his legs.)



Problem: Slamming Shoulder blades together at the top.

Analogy: Buckle your shoulder blades down in your back pockets.

When getting set to deadlift people often mistake tightening their lats with retracting their shoulder blades together. Try this analogy to help people understand.

Me: What’s the purpose of a seatbelt?

Deadlift enthusiast: To keep people in their seats.

Me: Correct. I want you to imagine that each one your shoulder blades have mini seat belts pulling them down into your back pockets. Since your shoulder blades are fastened down it will help them stay in their seats.

Deadlift enthusiast: Ookkk I got it now!


Analogies for the Win!

Deadlifts can be a complicated movement to coach if you tend to use complex terms people are not familiar with. Your main goal when using analogies is to paint a picture in the mind and create familiar context people already know how to perform. Give these simple deadlifting analogies a try and watch how people respond. 


Goldschmidt, Gabriela. "Visual analogy: A strategy for design reasoning and learning." Design knowing and learning: Cognition in design education(2001): 199-220.