Keep Your Head Up: Deadlift Neck Positions

The head position in the deadlift has been a big debate in the strength world for the last couple of years.  Recently, I have been hearing more and more coaches teaching to “pack the neck” and look down to tuck the chin.  I don’t know where this came from but I am telling you: it is completely wrong.  One of the most common mistakes I see in the deadlift is the hips shooting up too soon.  Once the hips come up, the knees lockout, and the lower back has to finish the pull rather than engaging your glutes.  Now the packing of the neck is supposed to fix a weak lockout, from what I’ve heard.  However I cannot see any logical reason why it would.  You want the bar to move in a straight path up your body, so look up to keep your chest up and your hips rising at the same time.  Typically when I see beginners tuck their chin while setting up for the deadlift it results in their hips rising up too soon, causing a weak lockout – which is the opposite of what this “pack the neck” method is supposed to accomplish.

I’ve tested this theory out many times myself when deadlifting.  Immediately I had a problem keeping my hips down, and even came off my heels to a degree.  This is my 750lb deadlift:


I’m always open to trying new techniques but from the setup of this lift you can see the mistakes I made.  The first one is having my head down and looking at the floor.  Once I took the slack out of the bar and dropped my hips in positon, I was in a good starting position.  However, having my head down caused my hips to shoot up first, losing leg drive to get