The Relative Strength Deadlift (RSD)

The Relative Strength Deadlift is a measure of load lifted relative to your bodyweight. In this advice article we will break down the entire movement step-by-step in order to perform the most technically ideal method of a deadlift for optimal strength.

How to Relative Strength Deadlift

Relative Strength Explained

In its simplest form, relative strength (in regards to the deadlift) means comparing the amount you can lift with how much you weigh. Within the S&C world this method is seen as a more definitive identification method of exactly how strong someone is, by comparison to simply listing how much weight you can lift – since it is all relative to exactly how heavy you are as an individual.

If you’re still unsure of exactly what ‘relative strength’ is in regards to the deadlift then please view our advice article below:

Relative Strength Explained Article

Relative Strength Deadlift Guide

Deadlift Setup Position

The Setup

The set up will start with your approach to the bar. Make sure to have yourself centred to the bar and adjust your stance accordingly.

Deadlift Stance Width

Stance Width

The maximum stance width for the deadlift assessment will be ASIS over 2nd toe or hip width.

Double Overhand Grip for Deadlift

Overhand Grip

Once you have the bar positioned just above the midpoint of the foot you will need to squat down and take a double overhand grip of the bar.

Deadlift Grip Width

Grip Width

The hands should be positioned just outside of the width of the shoulders making sure that the forearms are not pushing the knees inward.

Deadlift Knee Position

Knee Position

The knees themselves should be slightly forward of the bar and tracking in line with the toes.

Deadlift Shoulder Position

Shoulder Position

The shoulders should also be slightly in front of the bar.

Deadlift Hip Position

Hip Position

The hips will be slightly higher than the knees and the spine in a neutral position with the head up and eyes looking forward.

Deadlift Shoulder Blades

Shoulder Blades

The last thing to do is retract the shoulder blades and you’re ready to go in the set up position.

Deadlift Pull Phase

Pull Phase

You will then enter into the pull phase; this will mean the commencement of the upward motion of the deadlift.

Deadlift Engage Muscles

Engage the Muscles

This will start by engaging the muscles around the hips and the knees to extend both to initially lift the bar from the floor. The hips should not raise before the chest and shoulders.

Deadlift Bar Proximity

Bar Proximity

Keeping the bar as close to the body as possible at all times this will mean that the bar path follows that of the path of least resistance.

Deadlift Body Position

Body Position

You want to move the body out of the way of the bar rather than move the bar around the body in order to have the most effective and efficient lift, which will mean you, will be able to move more weight.

Neutral Spine

You will need to keep a neutral spine throughout the movement; any compromise of the spine will result in an unsafe attempt. During this phase be sure to brace the trunk musculature.

Deadlift Bar Raise

Raise the Bar

Raise the bar past the knee and up the thigh until both the knees and hips are fully extended.

Deadlift Raise Shoulder Position

Shoulder Position

At this point the shoulders should be positioned directly above the hips or within a 5-degree range of motion either anteriorly or posteriorly.

Deadlift Lift Phase

The Lift

The lift must be performed in one smooth, fluid motion for upmost safety.

Deadlift End Position

End Position

Once in the end position, you may now release the bar. For safety we always advise dropping the bar instead of placing it back down on the floor – as long as you are using professional equipment this will not damage the weights or bar.

Safety Notes


The most ideal footwear for the deadlift should be ideally flat soled, stable and appropriate – ideally a weightlifting shoe.

Deadlift Clips and Collars

Clips or Collars

We recommend using clips or collars for each deadlift to maintain safety – and be sure you know the load  and are confident before lifting.