T Nation

Can't Recover From Deadlifts...


Until recently I thought my deadlift was pretty decent. Then I joined a powerlifting club.

Being a stubby guy I squat well, but deadlifts are tough. In any case, after I do deadlifts it takes my lower back nearly two weeks to recover before I can even consider doing them again. I get pain that feels unlike muscle pain, but past MRIs show no damage.

During the week after I can't do any form of posterior chain exercises either. Even pullthroughs aggravate it.

Is there any way I can facilitate recovery so I can deadlift more frequently???

I see my ART guy every 2nd week but that isn't cutting it.


Might try switching styles from Sumo to Conventional or vice versa. This makes a difference for me. Also, what about Reverse Hypers. Its not a weighted exercise. Some Flameout might do you good also. Might want to check your form mechanics also. Just my 2 cents.

Overall, how do you like the ART experience?


My powerlifting coach has suggested that switching to Sumo may decrease the loading on my back as the bar will be closer to my body. Currently he's asked me to keep with conventional to build up lower back strength though. He says my form is as good as any stubby guy's can be and he's pretty knowledgable...I think.

Stiff leggeds, romanian deadlifts, reverse hypers, GHR's, back extensions, and pull throughs all hurt. I could do leg curls, but wtf good is that going to do?

I think recovery is the real problem, but perhaps I've got some tight muscles causing the problem? I've started stretching my hip flexors, quads, and hams like a mofo.

I also take 3-6 grams of concentrated fish oils per day. i've not yet decided if I think Flameout is much different. I tend to do research before acting.

As far as ART, it think it is fantastic. It has helped tremendously with old nagging injuries. There is one caveat though. You have to find a good provider!!! It is like any other profession. There are those who are good and those who aren't so good (i.e., they suck). Ask the top guys in your area who they send thier clients to.


I find if I'm not careful I can get incredibly tight in the lower back.

I have no idea if you are experiencing the same thing, but try really tensing the abs, enough to reduce/change your pelvic tilt, and see if you notice a reduction in "pain".

If so, then you may need to work on an abs imbalance and/or do some stretching to get the back to relax.


Yea, this doesn't sound like a recovery problem, it sounds like your are one step away from injuring yourself. I deadlift with a rounded back and aside from typical next day muscle soreness I feel no pain. Try the sumo thing, see if that helps, because injuring your lower back would seriously suck.


While I was reading this, another thought came to mind when you mentioned recovery. How about your mattress? If I sleep on the couch, I wake up with horrible lower back pain. Just a thought.


It could be the abs. I've been training them more recently, but it'll take a while to compensate for years of neglect. If I have a belt on I try to push them into the belt, but without the belt I have to way of "feeling" them.


While I'm quite sure that I don't deadlift with a rounded back (I have pictures) it could be the mattress.

I bought a new one last year, but it is a little harder than I'd like. When I tried it in the store it felt great. Once I got it home it seemed a little hard. :frowning:


My guess is a weak posterior chain. You might consider axing the deadlift and focusing on supplemental lifts and building up your low back, glutes, hamstrings for 6-8 weeks and coming back to deads.


I had thought about that myself, but I'm wondering how this is possible.

My current routine has been:

Day 1 - Upper Body ME
Day 2 - Lower Body ME
Day 3 - Upper Body DE
Day 4 - Lower Body DE

Lately I usually end up training Tues, Thurs, Sat and carrying the 4th day to the next Tuesday.

On both lower body days I usually include at least 2 of the following:

Good mornings (not often enough), Stiff leggeds, romanian deadlifts, reverse hypers, bodyweight GHR (don't have a proper damn machine), back extensions, and pull throughs.

I don't deadlift very often as I cycle my ME exercises. I can't figure how my posterior chain could be weak although I'm not ruling it out.


im not really an expert but maybe some ab strengtening and core work might help. Only thing i can think of as well is to eat alot before and make sure you havre lots of carbs and protein over the next few days and straight after you deadlift.


I wouldnt worry about it to be honest. I train with some of the best pullers in the country and they all deadlift every other wk. On your off wks you can still work the targeted muscles without killing yourself by deadlifting every wk. Pm bigpull, I train with him and he couldnt pull every wk either. Hope this helps. . .



It sounds like some segment of your posterior chain isn't being recruited sufficiently. Try some glute activation work when you are fresh. Pull throughs with a moderate weight for reps may help. Aside from that, I'd really look into strengthening your core and working on hip mobility.


Are you trying to pull heavy from the floor every single week?! I could never do that but I can't just do speed deads because they don't help me at all. So, I rotate pulling from the floor with rack pulls week to week. It works well for me without the overtraining.


What kind of warm-up are you doing? I have had some back issues in the past and was having the same problem you described. My lower back was pretty much useless for 7-10 days after a heavy DL day. The 4 things I've done that have so far seemed to help eliminate the problem are:

1) Went to an ART specialist to take care of my lingering back issues (6 sessions).

2) Started doing some real warm-up techniques designed to loosen up my hips/back/etc (check out that Magnificent Mobility DVD!!).

3) Realized that my lower back was just basically my weak point and I've been working specifically on bringing that up to speed (reverse hypers, GMs, back extensions, etc).

4) Static stretching program at night (I lift in the morning) and a little after my workout.

I'm still sore the next day after heavy DL but it's the "good" sore that subsides after a day. I no longer get the shooting pain that prevents me from doing bent over rows for 2 weeks.




That is a great reassurance. In the past I've always done deadlifts then made the next leg workout a quad dominant one. The following week I could deadlift again. Only since joining a powerlifting club (where almost everyone deadlifts every week) did I start doing it more frequently.


There could be some activation issues. I'll try the pullthroughs beforehand. Stretching the hips is also a recent priority.


As I mentioned just above, I have been trying to pull from the floor weekly. Maybe rack pulls or other alternatives are a better idea.


I have ART done frequently and I do train my lower back hard, but my warm up and stretching have been lacking. I'll have to suck it up and do what's needed.

Thanks all.


Are you ME squatting before your ME dead? My back is pretty well done by the end of squats. To do deads after is just asking for trouble. Try ME squat on one lower day with DE dead, then the next lower day, switch to DE squat and ME dead. $0.02


Pulling from the floor every week can be pretty brutal. I'd suggest to start doing some pin pulls, as you say up above.

Do you do any oly lifts? I find doing some light snatches and/or cleans before deadlifting helps loosen my back and then doing them again the day after deadlifting helps keep it loose and recover quicker.




I usually do either a squat, deadlift, or good morning variation on my ME day. I try to switch up the ME exercise every 2 weeks. I just haven't been able to do the deadlift for more than week at a time...let alone any other exercise that recruits the posterior chain.

Since joining this PL club things have changed. I can only train with them every Sunday (it's a decent drive). They do bench, squats, and deads every week. I'm having trouble doing this.


I think part of the problem is that I don't do much specific warm up at all. We train in a converted barn so it can get pretty cold in the winter. Some light oly lifts might get the juices flowing.