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Deadlift Back Rounding: Weak Legs/Hips or Back?

I understand that both can cause back rounding. If the hips/legs aren’t strong enough, the back rounds to get more leverage to break the ground. If your back muscles aren’t strong enough well that’s pretty self explanatory why the back can’t be kept flat.

When diagnosing a deadlift, how do you tell if your back is rounding because your hips and legs aren’t strong enough, or if it’s because your back muscles aren’t strong enough to keep it flat.

Can you get video? I have a suspicion that the culprit is the set-up, not any sort of muscular weakness. I don’t tend to see muscular weaknesses as the issue with raw lifters, more geared ones.

I don’t think I’m getting much more than 50lb out of the bands in the bottom position.

Here’s a video of a DE set:

I’d suggest its a setup issue, as well. In the DE set, it looks like your hips are lower, so you’re starting with a more neutral spine. Your hips are very high in the reverse band video, so you’re not giving yourself much of a chance to use your legs in the first place.

In that first video, your shoulders seem too far over the bar to be able to effectively get into position, which is causing the bar to be too far away from your body and forcing you to carry the majority of the weight in your lower back, which I believe is the source of your rounding.

I actually think the bands are the culprit there as well, because it’s forcing the weight to move straight up, like a smith machine, rather than allowing you to naturally pull the bar toward your body. You can see how far the bar remains away from you through out the pull.

I would see what happens without the bands, and see if you can focus on really dragging the body up the bar. I think you would be less inclined to see rounding.

I agree about the hips needing to get lower and shoulders being too far forward of the bar. I’ve seen some guys when they start getting really heavy weight on the bar not get their hips down far enough because their legs are a bit weaker than the back to pull from a lower position so the hips either start higher or shoot up during the pull and the back takes over from there. Try and remember “chest up and butt down”. Shoulders should be directly over the bar.

My suggestion would be to lighten the load up and pull reps w/ good form building those legs and upper back. That way when you get to a heavier weight, you’re body should naturally assume that position and pull more weight w/ correct posture.

I would certainly take Pwnisher’s advice about the bands. Learn to pull w/ straight weight.

Good luck and keep pushing.

From the time that you you initiate the pull until just over your knees, you are pulling from a point on your back about 4" above your belt. Do you feet that? I’m betting that you do.

Put your head normal to the rest of your spine, make your chest big and support that bigness by your upper abs which are perched on the belt, imagine pulling from a point where the cervical spine connects to your thoracic spine (like around where the bar goes when you lowbar squat), as if there is a cable there pulling you upward. I’m NOT saying hyper extend your spine because some upper back roundness, lower back flatness tends to accompany a good conventional deadlift. I’m saying use your rib cage, abs and belt and LOCK your spine.

In my experience, personal and observed, It is hard to pull from mid trap when your head is thrown back.

If the bar does not move, you are on your toes or your chest collapses (back rounds) you are most probably too far from the bar. Play with foot position until your pull feels like it comes from the position I mentioned earlier. Since you will be pulling from mid trap, your delts will be a bit in front of the bar. That is okay because your lats and tris combine to make the line of force vertical. Chances are that your hip position will automatically adjust if your upper body is as above and your feet are where they belong.

You’ll probably have to decrease the weight, but if you learn to make your body from the hips up a solid, proud mass and pull from higher on your spine rather from the middle, all should fall into place.

Couldn’t hurt to try this. Just knock a ton off of the bar and try it.

I see good points in all the posts.

I’ve got a leg workout tomorrow. I’ll give some of these tips a try. It just seems like everytime I try to revamp my form, I do really well in the 60-70% range, but as soon as I start going heavier, these flaws become more and more apparent.

Osu, what kind of rep schemes do you like for deadlift? I usually do close deadlift variations or speed deads after DE box squats but I’m thinking I’ll try the high rep approach instead.

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
I see good points in all the posts.

I’ve got a leg workout tomorrow. I’ll give some of these tips a try. It just seems like everytime I try to revamp my form, I do really well in the 60-70% range, but as soon as I start going heavier, these flaws become more and more apparent.

Osu, what kind of rep schemes do you like for deadlift? I usually do close deadlift variations or speed deads after DE box squats but I’m thinking I’ll try the high rep approach instead. [/quote]

I use 531. That’s it and it works. I got tired of thinking about training. 531 allows me to go do my business and get out. The real secret to getting stronger is that it takes time. Progressively get heavier each week in small increments. Training is training. Do it w/ good form and you’ll be rewarded.

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
I see good points in all the posts.

I’ve got a leg workout tomorrow. I’ll give some of these tips a try. It just seems like everytime I try to revamp my form, I do really well in the 60-70% range, but as soon as I start going heavier, these flaws become more and more apparent.

Osu, what kind of rep schemes do you like for deadlift? I usually do close deadlift variations or speed deads after DE box squats but I’m thinking I’ll try the high rep approach instead. [/quote]

That’s right 60 - 70% range. Like I said, strip off a ton and build back up. I bet a buck that when it feels heavy, you revert, probably due to strength issues, also probable is force of habit. I’ve seen/coached people who, when they know the weihgt is heavy, do this crazy “pull with everything” start and the chest instantly implodes as the lift leads with a jerk, the middle back starts the lift rather that the trap area, and this sort of thing happens.

I quit a set when my upper body starts to feel like it wants to collapse, not when I feel that I cannot get anymore reps. See my video post from the other day in Training Logs “So Injured, So Old: 600lb DL Before I Die” on 2/25. Looks like I have 1 or 2 more in me on that triple with 520, but note how on rep 3 my chest starts to collapse/upper back starts to round and I quit it. This has been working for me for decades.

Unless I am doing assistance, I never go over 3 reps. This way my reps are always crisp, I do not allow myself to train ugly.

Regardless of what PROGRAM you use, be smart enough NOT to do ugly reps. Your weak points, coordination, form will follow. But it takes time, not a lot, but it takes time and patience and discipline. Drop back in the weight and lift clean.

Good luck.

So I’m kind of doing a 5/3/1 scheme. I’ll do 5 percentage scheme 1 month, than the 3’s the next, and the 5/3/1 the last, test DL and start again from there and this will work with my squat and bench cycles. I won’t be going + on the sets, just working my way back down to the first working set. Basically, I’m trying to get practice and volume to build the DL muscles in the correct balance. To take advantage of good days, I’ll just lift the weight more explosively.

Anyway, here’s my top set for today:

I tried the neutral head thing on a set before this and I just found it hard to keep the weight on my heels and keep my shoulders back.

Much better in this video. That’s a good weight and solid reps. You can tell you were tested but not too heavy that you couldn’t get in some good solid reps w/ good form. Very good!

I agree w/ emskee - don’t do ugly reps. They breed poor form and injuries over time. And like he said, don’t be afraid to back down the weight. You can only go so heavy for so long before you gotta back down and do some robot volume work.

Keep it up. Good form in training leads to less injuries over time and moving more weight.

[quote]osu122975 wrote:
Much better in this video. That’s a good weight and solid reps. You can tell you were tested but not too heavy that you couldn’t get in some good solid reps w/ good form. Very good!

I agree w/ emskee - don’t do ugly reps. They breed poor form and injuries over time. And like he said, don’t be afraid to back down the weight. You can only go so heavy for so long before you gotta back down and do some robot volume work.

Keep it up. Good form in training leads to less injuries over time and moving more weight. [/quote]

I agree with osu122975 who agrees with me. :slight_smile:

Seriously, good form is the BEST assistance exercise. Further, you can’t always go heavy. You have to PRACTICE the movement and practice implies lots of reps and lots of reps implies light(er) work.

Good form, millions of reps, going heavy once and a while, that’s the game.

I think a lot of the good points that have been brought up in this thread are effectively captured/included in the concept of compensatory acceleration training (CAT).

The concept was developed/popularized by Fred Hatfield. Sam Byrd, Jay Nera and Chad Wesley Smith use some form of CAT and it’s pretty hard to argue with their results. I don’t think I would be allowed to post a direct link to the youtube videos or sites where the above lifters discuss their versions of CAT, but they can easily be found with a quick google search.

Personally, I particularly like Sam Byrd’s method of progression.

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:

I tried the neutral head thing on a set before this and I just found it hard to keep the weight on my heels and keep my shoulders back. [/quote]

Just for shits, one day try leading from the point where the cervical spine meets the throacic spine, like across mid trap. Act like you are strapped to a board which extends from your ass to the back of your head. You can still sit on your heels if you want, just push back on that board. (Keeping the weight on the heels is something I never understood: I have an entire foot and a gastroc and I’m going to use them to accelerate the bar until my knee straightens which is more than halfway through the lift, and since the bar is in front of me, go figure, I will use my foot and gastroc in locked tension all the way to the lockout.)

I ruptured a cervical disk by looking up during a row. I cringe when I see people lead a deadlift with the back of their head, rather than further down into the trap which is where you are pulling from anyway.

But mileage varies so if what you do works…

[quote]soupandspoons wrote:
I think a lot of the good points that have been brought up in this thread are effectively captured/included in the concept of compensatory acceleration training (CAT).

The concept was developed/popularized by Fred Hatfield and Sam Byrd, Jay Nera and Chad Wesley Smith use some form of CAT and it’s pretty hard to argue with their results. I don’t think I would be allowed to post a direct link to the youtube videos or sites where the above lifters discuss their versions of CAT, but they can easily be found with a quick google search.

Personally, I particularly like Sam Byrd’s method of progression.

[/quote]

If you are lifting anything you are out accelerating gravity. The more you out accelerate gravity, the less friction based is your effort, the more momentum you can count on.

Been around since a few attoseconds after the big bang.

Brophysics regarding the deadlift: “Bend over and pull like hell.”

Guy selling books regarding the deadlift: “Compensatory acceleration”.

The emskee princilpes:

Train to get the fast twitch muscles into the fray as soon as possible on each and every big 3 effort. If you always fire into a lift like a crazy man then you will always fire into a lift like a crazy man.

Squat, press, pull every rep in every training set like your family’s life depends on it.

Use godlike form. Perfect form is the greatest assistance exercise.

Only a small percentage of your lifts should be at or above 90% 1RM (make up a ratio like 1 to 10, 1 to 20, 1 to 100, who cares? it’ll all work to SOME degree or another, find a sweet spot).

Cycle from lower weights to higher weights over a few weeks. I like 5 weeks because I am OCD and think 5 is a magic number because I have 5 fingers on each hand.

Enjoy triples because 3 is also a magic number. And it is hard to break form in 3 reps but it starts to get easy at around 5.

Don’t know your 1RM right now? Guess, but guess low, you’ll catch up after a few cycles. Use one of those crazy calculators you can find on the internet (I’ve always liked the 1 RM = ((weight lifted x .03) x number of reps)+ weight lifted, why? cuz it is easy to calculate).

Do some bodybuilding movements because everyone wants to look pretty.

Pay attention to your self not to me.

[quote]emskee wrote:
From the time that you you initiate the pull until just over your knees, you are pulling from a point on your back about 4" above your belt. Do you feet that? I’m betting that you do.

Put your head normal to the rest of your spine, make your chest big and support that bigness by your upper abs which are perched on the belt, imagine pulling from a point where the cervical spine connects to your thoracic spine (like around where the bar goes when you lowbar squat), as if there is a cable there pulling you upward. I’m NOT saying hyper extend your spine because some upper back roundness, lower back flatness tends to accompany a good conventional deadlift. I’m saying use your rib cage, abs and belt and LOCK your spine.

In my experience, personal and observed, It is hard to pull from mid trap when your head is thrown back.

If the bar does not move, you are on your toes or your chest collapses (back rounds) you are most probably too far from the bar. Play with foot position until your pull feels like it comes from the position I mentioned earlier. Since you will be pulling from mid trap, your delts will be a bit in front of the bar. That is okay because your lats and tris combine to make the line of force vertical. Chances are that your hip position will automatically adjust if your upper body is as above and your feet are where they belong.

You’ll probably have to decrease the weight, but if you learn to make your body from the hips up a solid, proud mass and pull from higher on your spine rather from the middle, all should fall into place.

Couldn’t hurt to try this. Just knock a ton off of the bar and try it.[/quote]

Hey man, I followed this advice and got a new PR yesterday! Thanks!

[quote]dt79 wrote:

Hey man, I followed this advice and got a new PR yesterday! Thanks!
[/quote]

No, “thank you.”

That’ll be $1.00.

Here’s my lift from my modified ME Day for deadlift. The weights are 2 weight plates high so maybe 3 inches off the ground.

My second working set @ RPE 7.5:

My third and last working set @ RPE 8:

Is that too much upper back rounding or even perhaps rounding happening too low on my back?

While it may not have been perfect, I at least didn’t feel like a train hit me and the emphasis seemed to be more on my hips and upper back which I think is good especially considering block pulls are lower back intensive compared to pulls off the floor.

Did this video play for anybody?

Click on play and message says: This video is not available in your country.