Deadlift Form Check

Good evening,

My back always bothers me a few hours after deadlifting. The pain lasts maybe 24-48 hours. Usually the pain is in the bottom half of my spinal erectors. I’ve been starting my pulls with my hips in a lower starting position with the hope that it will ease the pain, but no luck so far. I’m getting the same kind of pain. The only difference is the pain is a bit higher up my spine with the lower hip position. I’m hoping someone can take a look at my deadlift form and let me know if my issue is form related. The video shows the slightly lower starting position. I’m pulling 195lbs in the video, which is about 80% of my 1RM.

A couple notes/questions

  • Looks like I’m hyperextending my lower back a tiny bit. Is that a problem?
  • I have some anterior pelvic tilt. Not sure if that’s contributing.
  • Given my build, maybe conventional deadlifting isn’t the best choice?
  • I’ll occasionally feels DOMS in my hamstrings, traps and even lats after deadlifting, but never my glutes. That tells me I may note be recruiting my glutes optimally. Any fix for this?

Any feedback would be GREATLY appreciated.

Mods - can we move this over to the powerlifting forum? Might get more love over there?

Your technique looks fine. If you have anterior pelvic tilt then you probably have tight hip flexors, this is a very common cause of lower back pain. Look up some hip flexor stretches as well as myofascial release.


Chris - Thank you for the response. Any cues for getting the glutes to fire?

I do banded lateral walks to wake up my glutes prior to deadlifting and squatting. You may not feel it in your glutes until you start pulling heavier, for reps.

I can’t tell your hand spacing but it seems like you are taking a wide grip? Conventional is generally best done with your hands shoulder width apart. As you go wider and it becomes more like a snatch grip deadlift and you have more distance to cover, making the deadlift more difficult than it has to be.

Knobby - I just googled lateral band walks, and they look easy enough to incorporate into my warm-ups. I’ll give it a shot. I appreciate the tip!

Hard to tell from the angle, but my hands are about an index finger away from where the knurling meets the smooth part of the bar, so definitely not a wide grip.

Just before anyone chimes in with some contradictory bullshit, there are some coaches/specialists who say that the only way your glutes don’t “fire” is if you have some sort of “lesion” or injury and the problem is bad technique/motor pattern. They are right, but some people need the right warm up to be able to use the right motor pattern until it becomes natural.

I got this from Dr. Stuart McGill (in a book, not in person): warm up with lying side raises followed by glute bridges. What I was doing is two sets of 20 reps for the side raises, hand on the side of the hip (biofeedback) and focusing on using that side of the glute. Then glute bridges with external rotation (try to open your hips as you do it) with 5 sec. holds until I “feel the burn”. I have since dropped the side raises but the way my deadlifts went today I should probably bring them back.

***Another thing!!
I was looking at Matt Wenning’s facebook page a couple of months ago. He does training seminars with Ed Coan and Charles Poliquin. He said something about max deadlift performance increasing after static stretching of the hip flexors. I tried this out twice, once during a deload (hard to tell if it helped) and another time before I hit my deadlift PR - which had not leg shaking (as I mentioned in another thread) and looked like I had another 30lbs., which would have put me 40lbs. over my DL today. All I did before is a 20 sec. hip flexor stretch for each side before the first 3 dl warm ups. Try it and see if it makes a difference, I wish I had done it today.

Glute Bridge

Kneeling Hip Thrust

Standing Hip Thrust

Sumo Block Pull (Sumo Bar Hump)

I have been doing high Sumo deadlifts from the rack. Sometimes just a 6-8 inch ROM. With the feet wide, it’s all glutes. In the high position, its super easy to “Brace” and get tight. If you go slow, or pause at the bottom, or even hold at the top you can really lock your back in, and “feel” proper position. Like if your back is hyper extended, you can fix your position mid rep. The whole thing is opening the hips and driving the glutes. Its “Functional” because you’re on your feet. Its specific to deadlifts, because you’re in Deadlift position.

It’s been really effective for me. Even 3 light sets while I stretch my hip flexors and do some leg curls does the trick.

Lots of good stuff here!

If anyone is interested, I did a set of 5 this morning and no back pain! Before my warm-up sets, I did some glute bridges with body weight only, focusing on the contraction. I followed that up with some hip flexor stretches. I have been doing hip flexor stretches for a while now to counteract my APT, but this was my first time doing them right before deadlifts.

In addition to changing my pre-lift routine, I also stared with a lower hip position. This seemed to have the follow effects for me.

  • I was able to engage more quad coming off the floor
  • my shins weren’t as vertical setting up, as there are when i start with a higher hip position, but this didn’t seem to affect me negatively
  • I felt like the weight was over mid-foot instead of my heels
  • with the higher hip position i was using previously, i felt like i was good morning-ing up the weight, if that makes sense. the lower hip position felt stronger.

It looks like your feet are completely straight ahead, which I do too. I heard or read something that if you slightly point your toes outward it may help activate your glutes more during the lift. I have not tried it and it sounds like everything you have been doing has been working, just something that you could try to help during the lift.

Good eye. My feet are indeed pointing pretty much straight ahead. I’ll try pointing them out a bit during my warm-up sets to see how that feels.

Yeah, I too have found that pointing toes slightly outward helps my pulls considerably.