The hips shooting up in the deadlift, also referred to as “hip shoot”, is a problem that a lot of lifters experience as they’re learning deadlifts or getting heavier with the weights they’re using.
Over the course of my coaching career, I’ve helped countless lifters from all walks of life to work away from their hips shooting up in the deadlift. What I’ve learned over time is that hip shoot is multifactorial and individual.
If your hips are shooting up in the deadlift, then I’d suggest working from the ground up. Assess your form and setup first, then look at how you’re producing tension, and if these are both on point, then I’d explore changing programming. Basically, start with the small easy fixes first, then move into the bigger changes.
Hip shoot when deadlifting entails the hips rising too quickly when starting your deadlift reps. Typically, this will look like the hips shooting up, then the barbell being lifted afterward.
The hips shooting up in the deadlift is an issue that’s not limited to beginners and intermediates may run into this issue as their deadlifts get heavier. This is why it’s important to take an individual approach to address this issue.
If you’re a visual learner, then I’d suggest checking out my YouTube video below covering this topic. In that video, I demonstrate what’s discussed in this article, so it’s the perfect complement for my visual friends!
Problem 1: Form and Setup Are Off
The first thing I’d suggest looking into if your hips are shooting up in the deadlift is your form and setup. A lot of times newer lifters will set up for deadlifts in a means that isn’t advantageous to both their anatomy and lifting efficiency.
In practice, this will typically look like either 1) the hips sitting too low before initiating a deadlift, or 2) the shoulders sitting behind the bar which then creates a seesaw-like effect.
If you’re sitting the hips too low before you initiate your deadlift rep, then it’s normal to see the hips rise before the weight breaks the floor, AKA is first lifted off of the ground. I call this the stripper deadlift.
How to Fix This
For your next deadlift session, use a weight that is around 55-75% of your 1-RM. If you’re newer to deadlifts, I’d start on the lighter range so you can make form changes without worrying about load and fatigue.
Set up your phone and film yourself from the side so you can get a good visual of your hips (no one is going to judge you in the gym for this, and if they do, that’s on them — not you for trying to improve!).
Once your camera is set, assume your normal deadlift setup, then bring your hips up a few inches and shift your shoulder a little more forward while keeping the bar tight to the shins. Ideally, you want to “feel” the hamstrings and glutes stretching and feeling the weight.
After you’ve done this, perform a few reps with this higher starting hip position and perform a 2-3 second lifting tempo. When doing this, you’ll mentally count 1-Mississippi, 2-Mississippi, and 3-Mississippi as you lift the weight.
This is important because it will slow you down and let you “feel” the changes made. Assess your form via the video and watch your hips. If they’re still coming up a little bit, then you’ll go back to the bar and repeat the same thing, but this time, you’ll bring the hips up a tiny bit more.
Remember, as you bring the hips up, you still want to stay over the bar and bend the knees a little bit so you can leverage the quads in your deadlift. You should not resemble a stiff-leg deadlift setup, for example.
Problem 2: Lack of Adequate Tension
Generally speaking, if your hips are shooting up in the deadlift and you’ve identified that it’s from a lack of adequate pre-lift tension, then your setup is likely off, too.
This is why I typically have lifters start with fixing their setup, then move to assess tension as they play off of one another, and in many cases, if you fix your setup then the tension issue fixes itself naturally.
However, this isn’t always the case and there will be occasions when pre-lift tension is off, which causes the hips to rise too early when deadlifting in some lifters. You’ll generally see these as the weight on the barbell gets heavier.
When pre-lift deadlift tension is an issue it’s typically because of two reasons, 1) a lifter is oversetting and retracting the scaps, or 2) they’re not well-versed in bracing correctly for the weight they’re using.
How to Fix This
As your deadlift weight gets heavier, your bracing strategy and how you’re pulling the slack out of the bar should relate to the intensity being used. For example, the tension strategy you use to deadlift 135 lbs and 405/500 lbs should be different.
Coaching Note: Pulling the slack out of the bar means that you’re creating full body tension through the floor and on the barbell before you lift the weight.
If you watch elite powerlifters deadlift, you’ll see that their barbell bends before they lift the weight. This is them actively creating tension through their body into the floor and barbell to create a smoother and stronger deadlift.
To improve your skill of pulling the slack of out the bar I want you to start building a pre-lift sequence that you can replicate for your heavier deadlift sets. Below is an example of a mental sequence I use to pull the slack out of the bar.
- Set up my stance and grip based on the knurling on the barbell. This keeps everything consistent.
- Set my hips so I “feel” weight in my hamstrings and glutes without physically lifting.
- Let my arms hang and keep the bar tight to the body (DO NOT overset and retract the scaps).
- Find my big toe and actively push into the ground.
- After all this, I think “Brace, push and pull!”
The above is an example of the mental cues that I like to use. It may seem like a lot if you’re just starting out, but in practice, this is all fluid and second nature at this point, and it keeps my reps consistent. I’d highly suggest building a string of cues that help you stay consistent and ready for deadlift reps.
Problem 3: Exceeding Lifting Thresholds
The final reason why your hips might be shooting up in your deadlift is that the weight on the barbell is exceeding your capabilities. If you’re getting deep into your deadlift training, it’s normal to have to navigate issues like this.
For example, a beginner may not experience this issue as they likely have more form work to do to limit this, but an intermediate lifter may need to focus on specific ranges of motion in their deadlift.
This is when it’s important to recognize and remind yourself that deadlifting is a skill. With any skill, as we get more specific and focused so do the strategies that we use to accomplish the task at hand.
Basically, as we get stronger we’ll have to constantly fine-tune and work our form to ensure our outputs match the outcomes we’re after. Long story short, as the weight on the barbell goes up, our effort and proficiency also need to increase.
How to Fix This
Outside of just getting in more reps and exposure at heavier weights, there are a couple of deadlift strategies that I’ll use for intermediate lifters that need a little fine-tuning regarding eager hips.
The first method is for lifters that mentally panic as the weight gets heavier on the barbell. At times, I find that some intermediate lifters can sometimes “freak out” and change their form the moment their deadlift starts to slow down or “feel” heavy.
This is where building mental tenacity and practicing the skill of staying in the pocket comes into play. To practice this, I’d suggest using a concentric tempo once again. There’s power in slowness and getting used to “feeling” and fighting through heavyweight is just as much of a skill as a fine-tuned golf swing.
To program for this, I’d suggest using a 2-3 second concentric (lifting) tempo for singles, doubles, and triples at moderate to heavier intensities. Think 78-90% of your 1-RM. As you program these, watch your body and see how it changes as fatigue sets in.
Coaching Note: With heavier deadlift intensities, your tempo will likely slow down to naturally hit the tempo we’re after. Regardless, mentally focus on the tempo as this will keep you more strict and diligent.
The second strategy that I like to use for combatting the hips shooting up in intermediate lifters is pause deadlifts. Pause deadlifts come with countless benefits, but in the context of the hips shooting up, they can be great for highlighting form discrepancies.
By adding a pause to your deadlift, you can hyper-focus on the exact moment in which you notice your hips shoot and your form starts to break down. For example, if you find that your hips shoot up as you hit around the mid-shin, then you’ll add a pause at this point.
This pause in your deadlift will essentially stop you where you struggle most and force you to maintain form and keep the hips in an advantageous position. These are tough but done properly, the body will adapt to the task at hand.
When using pause deadlifts to combat the hips shooting up, I’d suggest using them for singles and doubles with moderate to heavier intensities. Generally, intensities that range between 78-90% will work best.
Is hips shooting up in the deadlift bad?
When deadlifting, especially with heavier weights, you ideally want the hips to rise consistently with the barbell versus the hips rising and then pulling the barbell. Hips shooting up can take away from good deadlift form.
Why do my hips shift when I deadlift?
If your hips are shifting when you deadlift then you may either be setting your hips too low or not creating enough tension to keep them in an advantageous position.
How do I stop hips shooting up in deadlift?
The main reason why your hips might be shooting up in your deadlift is that you’re setting the hips too low. Try bringing your hips up slightly to prevent hip shoot.
As you learn deadlifts and get heavier with the weights that you’re using it’s normal to encounter periods of time when your hips might be shooting up too quickly.
The hips shooting up can take away from your performance output and can put your body in a disadvantaged position, so it’s a good idea to address this deadlift issue when it comes up.
Every lifter is different and the strategy that you used to combat the hips shooting up too quickly in deadlift should be individual and based on your needs.
If you have additional questions on this topic, drop a comment below or reach out to me on Instagram and I can help you out accordingly (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).