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VIDEO: The Deadlift
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The deadlift should be respected more than anything else.  The deadlift should be respect more than its done because though its potent (with technicalities) it can also be dangerous.
First off, never dive right into lifting ridiculous amounts of weight with this exercise; ease into it.  You should begin with the bar about an inch away from your body, (center of gravity) and your feet should be shoulder width apart.  While positioning your chest out and hips back (arching your back) begin to lean forward while maintaining the integrity of that position.  Grab the bar with your hands right outside of your shoulder width, (on the outside of your legs) firmly grip the bar and then squeeze your hamstrings, and glutes as you come up for the contraction.  
Many individuals do deadlifts using opposing grips, one supine (under-hand) and the other prone (over-hand) -- it could possibly hinder you from getting an equal amount of muscle activation during the concentric phase. 

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