T Nation

Deadlift Form Analysis


#1

Hi everybody on the T-Nation forums!

I've been working on my deadlift strength and technique in the last few weeks and concerning my deadlift form, I'm still not feeling ok. I began training my deadlift with a 5x5 style, lifted from 0kg up to 100kg, then dropped the linear progression system because I began with CrossFit (no hate about that please xD) and I barely improved my deadlifting strength since then, although I made awesome progress everywhere else. 3 weeks ago i picked up linear strength training again to increase my powerlifting strength for the next 3-4 months. I started again at 110kg 5x3 and my last session was at 117.5kg, which I stopped after the third set because I was super afraid of bad lifting form.
I've read a lot of deadlifting articles on T-Nation and wrote my thoughts about my own technique at the end of this post.

Ok, if you are still with me, cool! Please take a look at it and I'm thankful for any advice! Here are the videos:

I feel like this one was the worst set of all:

This one seems to be better:

The last one with 117.5kg, stopped this session:

About me:
Height: 176cm
Weight: 78kg
Squat: 110kg 5RM, 130kg 1RM
Deadlift: 135kg 1RM
Snatch: 82.5kg
C&J: 100kg

My own thoughts:
- I have the impression that my setup is bad. I'm still not comfortable with my position, changing it all the time. Hips high, hips low, ...
- For the last 2 months I began scraping my shins all the time during pulling movements, be it olympic lifts or deadlifts. I've never had this problem since I started weightlifting until recently. I read the articles from Eric Cressey that it may come from bad bar placing during the setup. Again, my setup position.
- I begin rounding my lower back, specially in the first video. The weight does not feel super heavy, but maybe it's already too heavy because I can't maintain a good neutral position of the spine.
- Somehow I got used to not lock out completely, still having bent knees. I already worked on this issue and I feel like it's gotten a lot better.

Any advice spepcifically for my setup position? Are there any other problems I didn't notice and that should be corrected immediately?

-> Would I be better off lowering the weight and working on technique or just go on with the strength progression and work on technique on the other days?

My schedule looks like this:

M: rest
T: olympic lifting
W: crossfit (intensive)
T: rest
F: crossfit (moderate)
S: Strength (Back Squat 5x5, Bench 5x5, Chin up 5x5, assistance work 2 exercises)
S: Strength (Deadlift 5x3, Dips 5x5, Db Row 5x8, assistance work 2 exercises)


#2

Crossfit.... CROSSFIT???? Well there is your problem.

LOL Totally joking by the way


#3

Your starting position doesn't look bad. But get those lats tight. Don't pinch your shoulder blades together, flex your lats. Grab the bar like your trying to bend it.


#4

Welcome to T-Nation.

Before starting the lift, make sure you're taking a huge breath and bracing your lats and abs as hard as possible. Create some tension in your glutes and hip flexors to prevent your hips from getting pulled out of position. If you don't feel tension in all these areas, drop the weight until you do and record these reps to see if helps you keep a neutral spine.


#5

Sorry to hijack the forum but damnnn, a 100kg C%J and a 130kg 1RM squat? Maybe you should check out this article, https://www.T-Nation.com/training/know-your-ratios-destroy-weaknesses, its a good read.


#6

I agree with Alrightmiami19c and lift206. Your setup and pulls really don't look bad but I find it VERY odd that you have a 100 kg C&J but a 135 kg DL and 130 kg squat.

You've GOT to have a strong back and legs to hit 100 kg C&J (I could clean 87.5 kg on a good day when I did cleans a fair amount and my squat at the time was 180 kg with a 215 kg DL, and there is no way in hell I could jerk that 87.5 kg) so I think the limiting factor is really going to be fatigue and some technique.

In terms of fatigue I think its fairly simple. You hit your strength work when you've already had two Crossfit sessions. I know you've rested, but those sessions are going to have taken a toll on your CNS, and that'll have a massive impact on your strength especially if your CF work that week had a lot of hip, leg and back work. Hit your strength work first in the week, when you're fresh.

In terms of technique, while your setup looks pretty decent it looks like the bar moves slowly off the floor and then accelerates, with your hips coming through rather fast (which is good, by the way). Since you do a fair bit of weightlifting, I'm not surprised since my understanding of both the lifts is that you pull off the floor in a controlled manner and then its the second pull that is explosive. This isn't going to work with a conventional pull, because you only have the one pull: off the floor. Grip and rip really does apply: grip the bar and tear it off the floor as fast and violently as you can manage while keeping yourself braced as tightly as you can. Drive your hips through fast and hard towards the bar and lock your knees out nice and fast.


#7

Thank you all for your answers so far! I'm glad that it's not as bad as I think it is.
Concerning the Oly lifts and my weak powerlifts: i just think that my oly technique is quite good, at least good enough to make up a lot what I'm missing strengthwise, based on my 1RMs in the powerlifts. My power clean 1RM is 90kg, the full clean was tested back in November for a 1RM, I think this one is higher now. But that's also frustrating, I wonder what I could lift if I were stronger and just had more raw strength ...

Thank you @Alrightmiami19c and @lift206, I didn't pay attention to my lats at all! I'll try to focus on this one in the next session!

@Benanything: read this article once, gonna re-read it! (I'm following your DL thread as well but I don't feel qualified to give any advice, sorry for that)

@MarkKO: I absolutely think that my weak powerlifts are technique-related. I just don't feel like I can give the lifts everything I've got because something's always holding me back, be it fear, mobility or technique concerns. If I know I'm on the right way, I think I could maybe relax a bit more and just hit it harder. I feel like my squat is going up pretty fast again because I was dealing with some adductor pain almost half a year, but recovered from it around november or so, so I expect the squat to up quite a bit again.
Great point about my oly-based approach to deadlifting! Didn't notice this one until you mentioned it but it's 100% true that I'm lifting in first pull, second pull, third pull oly-style and not just in 1 fast pulling motion!

I'll keep you up with my progress, thanks everybody!


#8

Just relax, get tight and pull fast. That'll take care of most of it. And by relax I mean don't worry. I used to spend a fair bit of time getting set just right for my DLs but the moment I backed myself to get into position quickly and just braced and pulled my max went up 15 kg in one day.


#9

Sage.


#10

Your form is not really bad, as far as going to hurt yourself. For performance though, some small changes might help. Here is a couple of ideas:
1. Work on speed off the floor-you cannot lift a heavy weight slowly.
2. As you lift the bar you must throw your head back.
3. As the bar reaches mid thigh, squeeze your gluts together and the weight will come up easier.
4. I think your workout schedule is a lot to make great DL progress. Especially doing it 24 hrs after a squat day.


#11

Thank you sir.


#12

I respectfully disagree MOST STRONGLY with point 2. That's just a recipe for hurting yourself. Head should remain neutral throughout the pull. Chest up as you pull, absolutely. But throwing the head back is a really, REALLY bad idea IMO.

As to to 4, I often deadlift the day after squats and it has never had any effect on my pulls. I squat fairly wide and very glute/ham dominant and if anything the deadlifts the day after loosen me up.


#13

Ok, thank you all for your advice so far! Today, I'm gonna hit my next deadlift session (switched the deadlift for the squat session tomorrow, legs feeling really tired today).
These are my 3 main points I try to focus on:

  1. Drive the chest up
  2. Lats tight
  3. pull fast, in 1 motion
    (4. spread the floor. this one helped me a lot yesterday while doing some lighter snatch grip deadlifts)

I'll post a video again when I'm done with my training session.


#14

Sounds good to me. I reckon you're going to feel much better pulling this time around.


#15

Ok, so I tried again, 5x3 with 120kg was the goal.
Did 1x3 @120kg but then I felt that I was rounding quite a bit in my lower back and that I couldn't keep the tension throughout the 3 reps. I then dropped the weight to 100kg and took another video to see how the weight impacts my technique.
I tried to start with my hips a bit higher.

3 reps @120kg

3 reps @100kg

I'm ok with the form @100kg, but in my opinion, I'm rounding too much in my lower back in the 120 video.
I only managed to try and lift in one pulling motion and tried to drive the chest up. Unfortunately, I forgot to focus on lat tension, too bad.

After this session, I feel like my goal weights are just too heavy. Form is ok with lighter weights but I'm just not strong enough when the weights get heavier, so I'm considering starting back at 100kg and then adding only 2.5kg per week and try to add some higher rep deadlifts once or twice a week to get a feeling for the lift. I think that right now, my ego is still ok with reducing the weights, but if I hammer through it, I guess it would embarass me to lighten to load after I've had 40kg more on the bar and realizing that if I continue to lift like that, it's not gonna be healthy anymore in the long run.

What are your thoughts?


#16

It still looks ok, but your first videos looked ok too. Your idea to drop the weight and work back up is good, I think. The increments too. You could look into so really specific DL assistance work as well for your lower back maybe if you feel that its your weak point, but I'm not sure how much that would help. I'm a bit iffy on light DLs for higher reps. I can see how it'd help practice technique but keeping good technique at light loads is very different from keeping good technique at heavy loads. Maybe heavy block pulls would help more.


#17

Today, I just filmed some more reps after I was done with work, I just wanted to pay attention to some points I forgot about in the last session, no heavy weights, no actual training was intended. This time I really tried to focus on lat tension during the setup position and I think I did quite well. In the first video I also tried the first 3 reps with a lower hip starting position and then in the other videos I started with the hips higher. I didn't really feel a big difference, maybe because the weight was really light (Thank you MarkKO for the hint about technique in light and heavy weights).

Because I felt really happy and super tight with my lat focus, I increased the load from 60, 90, 100 up to 110kg (didn't plan this but I was somehow "feeling it", and thought why not).

60kg, first 3 reps tried lower hips, then higher hips:

1x110 normal grip, 1x110 mixed grip:

2 things I noticed:
1. a higher hip position seems more natural to me, because without focusing on lower hips, I always ended up starting the pull with higher hips, almost level with my shoulders (I'm not quite sure if that's ok or just a bit too high).
2. Before my 2nd rep at 110kg, I switched to a mixed grip, because the bar there was very slippery. After switching to a mixed grip, I felt that I couldn't build the same tension in my lats and back as I could with a normal grip!

Now the interesting point here is, that almost always, when the weights are heavier than 100kg, I switch to a mixed grip and it's exactly at this point, where I feel like my form isn't so strict anymore and that I lose tension!
Now, am I just driving myself crazy with all this form check stuff or might this be something to consider?
I already learned a lot since I started this thread, thanks to all of you who keep answering! Video-Selfies help a lot!


#18

first up i think there are some strength deficiencies at play here, specifically mid-back and hamstrings.

secondly absolutely listen to the advice above. get those lats tight, really really tight, and heavy weights will start to feel like warmups. get your breath and pull fast.

i'd disagree with your last statement. from what i can see you have short to average length arms and quite long femurs which means when you start with high hips the lever arm gets really long which then highlights the weaknesses above. in the second set of videos you posted your legs are almost straight before the bar even passes the knees, i.e. before you've even begun to extend the hips.

also in a number of your lifts your toes come right off the ground at various points. i think you need to lower the hips just a fraction, which will in turn push your shins forwards and move the bar more over your mid foot. at the moment it looks to me like you're trying to use your body as a cantilever against the weight. i prefer to try and get myself as compact as possible (again getting tension in your lats and whammies will bring everything closer together) and as soon as the bar breaks the floor i'm focused on wedging myself between the floor and the bar.

and if you have trouble with the mixed grip why not just use the hook grip?

all that said, your technique really isn't that bad at all and i think you're being a bit over cautious. if i was you i would just work on speed deadlifts with around 90kg, multiple sets of 2-3.

happy deadlifting


#19

Lower your hips and move your shoulders back so that your arm pits are just above the bar. Right now it seems that your are extending your knees way faster than your hips and turning the deadlift into a pure hinge movement when it shouldn't be. This is also causing your shoulders/chest to move forward. Your scapulae should be above the bar when initiating the lift and it should never move forward if you want the most efficient line of pull. Your hips should be at a height where it doesn't rise faster than your shoulders. Use a little bit more quad strength to get more leg drive which will help in keeping your hips down so that it doesn't shoot up so fast.

If your hips still shoot up when you're trying to generate more leg drive, you probably need to work on better tightness in your mid and upper back and force yourself to be more patient and disciplined. Do not let your chest shoot forward and keep your arm pit above the bar.


#20

Get tight, lock the lats, brace the abs, and pull. The rest is just fluff.

Now getting the proper set up is different. Finding your ideal position and bar distance from your legs can be tricky and will take experimenting.