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Deadlift Form Check: Cues To Stop Rounding?

Deadlift has never felt like a natural movement to me and I used to round extremely badly. Form is better now but still rounding and you can notice it as soon as I initiate the pull.

Here’s a double at a little over 80%. This was after squating so fatigue may have played a role but either way I want to fix this.

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I know why you’re concerned, but look at the video again. Focus on your lumbar spine only - from your waistband to just before the middle of your back.

Now watch it again, and ignore everything else in the video.

It doesn’t move. You’re confusing a bit of thoracic movement combined with your shoulder blades going into protraction for lumbar rounding.

The muscles holding your scapulas in that retracted position aren’t strong enough to maintain it. Going into retraction is what gives us the flat back look. It’s also what we do when someone says “Stand up straight.”

Don’t sweat it too much but work on strengthening your upper back.

At some point we all grab a weight that causes our shoulders to roll forward, but that’s not rounding of the spine.


I agree with the above post, it’s not drastic rounding that is of extreme concern. However, some things that might help would be starting the lift with your lats fully engaged and taking the slack out of the bar before the pull. Additionally, I would take in your breath that you use to brace while standing instead of doing it while in the starting position to give yourself a stronger natural brace


If you have a belt should you take breath before getting in position also?

If that’s your style yes. I’d always braced and got my air standing and it worked great. Currently working on learning to brace at the bottom to make straps easier to use. So it’s just a matter of which way is easier for you personally.

I’ve kind of flip flopped on bracing up top or at the bottom but bottom has been the go to for the last 6 months or so.

So I should focus more on back work rather than technique changes or a healthy combo of both? I’ve made it a point to do more back work than pressing but if I’m hitting the wrong groups or having the same technique issues by rowing too heavy then that would make sense for why this is a problem.

I’m just concerned with longevity. I’ve been making consistent progress the last 3 years and if I get stronger with less than ideal form I’m worried it’ll come back to bite me

How much do you deadlift with? Deadlifting 400 with slightly bad form is less risk then doing it with say 600.

445 is my best right now but at the rate I’m going mid 500s is on the horizon.

My squat for example has gone from 275 to 435 in under 2 years. Just want to get things in order so I can lift as long as possible.

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I got this from @losthog and he got it from his new gym. We call them Shirley Rows. On Monday I did this movement right into a full cable row. My entire back was hurting - all the way down to my pelvis (where the lats tie in).

I think this move looks a lot like your deadlift. The lumbar spine stays mostly neutral while everything else flexes forward. It’s definitely not going to hurt you to add these as a stand alone exercise or as part of your cable row movement.

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Well I’m hitting upper tomorrow so I’ll give them a go along with a few other things.

I may be guilty of having my back work over emphasize post delts due to my paranoia of shoulder injury, there’s plenty of movements for me to try out and sub in.

I have a direction to move in though so I’ll try to give the mid trap and rhomboids a little more focus to see if that makes a difference in the next few months. My erectors in my mid back will probably appreciate a break on the heavy DLs

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I personally think heavy rack pulls would help a lot with this too

I like the Westside idea of using assistance or strategic back work to build lagging areas in order to improve technique.

The Shirley Row is cool to reach that hunch back area.

I’ve also been using a neck harness super setted with reverse hypers to hit the stuff above my mid back and below my erectors. I didn’t even go heavy on that stuff and my back felt real sturdy and not rounded yesterday, deadlifting for the first time in awhile.

Another good accessory to strengthen your upper back in a static position is front squats. Working that into my rotation helped my deadlift form immensely.

Made some adjustments to technique and back work. Am I on the right path or should I try something else?

Haven’t tried dl variations like rack pulls yet so that’s next on the list

It’s not a lot to worry about man. If you’re extremely concerned about the minimal caving, try and sit back more when you start to pull. You don’t use your legs very much at the beginning so the more you can load up your hamstrings and glutes, the higher your chest will be. Try and think about leg pressing the weight away versus pulling it up with your back.

Overall it looks solid though man. Just keep working through it.

I think this is a queuing problem, not a strength one. Remember, chest up and consider the McGill Big 3

That could be it, cuing helped my squat a lot when I picked 2 things to focus on.

I just haven’t figured out how to make deadlift feel right and learn what that starting position feels like.

Squat and log clean and press took a few months but feel great now. Deadlift has been a 3 year process and still needs a lot of work. Probably why my squat is so close to my dl.

Deadlift is my problem/unicorn lift too. I finally threw in the towel on BB deadlifts and now exclusively use the trap bar. Not saying that’s what you should do.

I agree with @oldbeancam you can probably benefit by dropping your hips just a tad to get more quad in the push from the floor. Perhaps play with sitting back a touch as well. These are subtle changes, not big changes. Your DL form looks good, but you are all back pull. Not that that is bad, but if you can distribute the load some, it may help.

I deadlifted a lot like you. Really good form on anything under about 80%, but when it started to get heavy, shit caved in. I tried everything. High hips (Rip style, which you seem to adhere to), low hips, etc.

I kept getting injured as I was nearing new maxes. I was losing precious training time, when I never intended to compete. So I switched to trap bar and all is good. Everything stacks up, feels natural and form holds even on max attempts. No injuries in a long while.

DL is a bitch.

@strongmangoals @oldbeancam @IronOne any suggestions on the “sit back” cue or how to use more legs in general?

Whenever I try to sit back I actually start in a more rounded position. Not sure if it’s my long torso and short arms or inflexibility or “sitting back” the wrong way.

I’d happily cut out deads if I didn’t choose to compete in strongman (oops). Hip thrusts hit my back side plenty for growth.

Look up some videos George Leeman did back in the day. He explains it really well in his old videos and his channel in general is a goldmine for deadlift tips.