Falling Backward During Deadlifts? Here’s Why, And How To Fix It | Well+Good

Hands down, deadlifts are the best bang-for-your-buck exercise when it comes to building functional strength and stability. They target all the biggest muscle groups in your bottom half (glutes, hammies, and quads), and they challenge your core, shoulders, and forearms. Basically, they’re a total-body workout in one movementโ€”and feeling like you’re losing your balance and falling backward during deadlifts is one way to get turned off of them, fast.

The exerciseโ€™s hinging pattern, which involves pushing your hips back, can be a tad tricky to master, as can the stabilizing at the top. Shifting all your weight backward can throw you off balance, and not only is rolling back onto your heels annoying, but it can also make the powerhouse move less effective.

Think about it: If your toes always come off the ground every time you push your hips back or you come to the top of the move, it means:

  • you wonโ€™t have a stable base to perform the move,
  • you wonโ€™t be able to pull the weight with full force,
  • and you might even fall back and hurt yourself.

But why the heck does the toes-off-the-floor habit happen in the first place? Here, Tatiana Lampa, CPT, CFSC, corrective exercise specialist and creator of the Training with T app, explains why you might feel like youโ€™re falling backward during deadlifts, along with simple strategies to keep your feet firmly planted in place.

3 reasons (and fixes) for falling backward during deadlifts

1. Itโ€™s the weight shift of your feet

โ€œPush your weight into your heels.โ€

Youโ€™ve probably heard this deadlift advice time and time again. Problem is, โ€œyou may be pressing too much from your heels and not enough from the front of your feet,โ€ Lampa says. This may be a huge factor in why you feel like youโ€™re falling backward. Itโ€™s common sense, really: If all your weight is on the back of your feet, your toes will come up.


As a general rule, โ€œyou want your feet to be evenly distributed to the ground,โ€ Lampa says. โ€œAlmost think that your feet are being screwed or glued to the ground.โ€
Another way to visualize it: Push through all three major contact points in your feet (i.e., your pinky toe, big toe, and heels), driving the floor away while spreading your toes. This will ensure you have a stable, sturdy base, so youโ€™ll be able to lift more efficiently and effectively.

2. Youโ€™re creating hyperextension with your low back

At the top of the movement, many people push their hips forward and overarch their backs, Lampa says. โ€œI see this often with clients when they pull the bar up for their deadlifts.โ€ But when your low back is hyperextended, โ€œthe bodyโ€™s center of gravity is not in a stable position,โ€ she says. In other words, you can easily lose your balance.


When you pull the barbell or dumbbells into a standing position, your shoulders should be stacked over your hips and your hips over your ankles, Lampa says. โ€œThink about creating a straight line from top to body.โ€ This balanced position will help you feel steadier on your feet.

3. Youโ€™re lifting too heavy

When your load is too heavy, you have to pull really hard to get it off the ground. The force of the pulling movement can throw you off balance and tip you backward.

OK, we know what youโ€™re thinking: But I like to lift heavy with deadlifts. Letโ€™s be clear: Thereโ€™s a difference between challenging yourself and overdoing it. When you challenge yourself appropriately, you should still be able to perform a deadlift (or any exercise for that matter) with the correct technique (even though youโ€™ll likely feel fatigued by the last few reps). On the other hand, when you overextend yourself by lifting too heavy, you wonโ€™t be able to maintain good form from the jump.

โ€œI always say, donโ€™t compensate your form just to say, ‘I lifted X amount of weight today,’โ€ Lampa says.


Ask yourself, how does the weight feel? And be honest, Lampa says. If itโ€™s too heavy, lift a little lighter. As they say, no ego amigo. Itโ€™s better to have proper form than to lift more than you can handle. Not only will your technique suffer, but you can also end up with an injury. The weight should feel challenging, but it shouldnโ€™t be so heavy itโ€™s knocking you off your feet.

Be patient: With progress and consistency, youโ€™ll see a change in the way you move the weight around, Lampa says. Once you build the strength and youโ€™re no longer falling backward, itโ€™s time to level up.

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