T Nation

Deadlift Form Help


I THINK I have a slight rounding of the back when I do deds with my feet shoulder width. If I get up with my back in the exact same position, it doesn't seem to be rounded, though. If it does flex,I think it is hardly visible. Is this a problem? I used to use a sumo stance and keep my back VERY arched, but I noticed everyone around here says one should deadliftwith a narrow stance.

How do I do this without rounding my back? what should I stretch to be able to do deads like in the photos?

Also, I would greatly appreciate any pics of the start position in the dead taken exactly from the side of the lifter (prefferably without a shirt or something tight to see if the back "looks" rounded...
Many thanks, BT


Photo 2


So much depends on your personal geometry. Look at the guys in the two photos you posted. The first one seems to have longer legs relative to the size of his torso, compared with the second guy who is more evenly proportioned. Note the difference in posture.

Your stance doesn't have to be narrowed so much, you just want your arms to fit outside your legs. If you expect you're on the longer legged side, I think take a somewhat wider stance.

The kinds of stretches that help me with deads target mainly hip flexors and hamstrings.

In the attached photo, the panel on the left is with hips positioned too low, in the center hips are a bit high, and on the right things are set to evenly distribute the strain.


Sorry the pictures couldn't come across, as they were from a book. What the pictures show is that the angle between trunk and legs is about the same in all cases, but when the hips are too low the thighs are nearly parallel to the ground, when hips are too high they are about at 35-40 degrees, and in the final panel they are at maybe 25 degrees to the floor.


But could you please tell me how is the back? (parallel or some degrees higher?)
More on my "loss of arch": it SEEMS my spine is STRAIGHT (also if seen exactly from the side-looking in a mirror when in the bottom -without weights) when in the bottom possition. Is this right??? Considering that in a deadlift you must lock out, does that count as "flexion under load" (or am I supposed to simply "thrust" my hips forward and nto also arch my back?)


Straight is what I aim for. In the picture, the way it looks to me, the guy has his back at about 30 degrees from vertical when his hips are too low, about 60 degrees from vertical when his hips are too high, and about 45 degrees when form is spot on. In all cases the guy is holding his back pretty straight, but you can see some differences in how he positions the neck, because he is trying to keep his gaze level.

You want to thrust your hips clear through, but personally I avoid taking a pronounced arch in the back.


Are you deadlifting to lift the most weight or purely as a muscle builder?

Dave Tate and others recommend rolling the shoulders forward and even wounding the UPPER back to shorten the distance of the lift. I think this is not dangerous the way rounding the lower back is. Dave has an article about deadlifting form out there somewhere.


The only way I relate to bodybuilding is that I want to be bigger than the average Joe(goal is anything between 180 and 220, in 10 years, depending on BF levels-now 147). But, most importantly, stronger. I want a dead of minimum 600lb and a 400lb bench, and many one arm chins(or a few weighted :slight_smile: ).
As I also have slight back problems (scoliosis), I want to be sure my technique on standing lifts is the best (safest) possible.

My goal is to have a VERY strong back (spine- meaning I want my to be able to hold big loads when standing, say 700lb on the back or when shrugging and 350-400 overhead).
=> I want a technique which will develop the muscles supporting my spine, keep herniated discs away from me, and allow me to lift a lot. :slight_smile:
So, L I F T A L O T.


So, in short, the most weight.


i think the key is to arch your back hard in the starting position and TRY hard to keep it arched. When your going for max weight or close to it more then likely your back will round some its just the way it is.

Work other exercises to strengthen your lower back and do speed pulls to work on form and you should be OK.

Also sumo vs. conventional is usually just a matter of preferance. One is not necaserally better then the other and many suggest using both in training to hit any weaknesses.


Again, for MAX weight, get the shoulders rolled over.


I'm no expert on the dead, but it looks like the guy in the first picture is trying to squat the weight up instead of deadlifting it. He has shifted the emphasis onto his quads rather than the posterior chain.

The difference is instead of squatting down to grip the bar, squat back like you are going to sit on something. The p-chain will allow you to lift more weight in the long run. More weight = good.

Trying to keep the lower back straight is always a good idea (as Mert pointed out), but not as important for the upper back.


I think I found a better way to describe how my spine stays with legs close) during deads: think maybe FEW degrees (I think less than 10)more rounded than when you try to press your lower back to the floor.If I get up with spine in the same position, it doesn't look rounded.
Think this is good technique?

How should I stretch to be able to keep my back arched?

Many thanks


I hope this will be the final question:
how dangerous is it if I go down with my upper back somewhat rounded/shoulders rolled over/slumped(typical couch potato/eager bencher posture, I guess)/etc or my spine as in the. I noticed that this way I can keep my lower back arch (altough not as tight) regardless of leg placement.

I think that to counter the hunch I could simply do rows and overhead shrugs, right?


Taking the time to get set up properly is key to a good and safe deadlift. I have pulled both sumo and conventional. When setting up for a conventional pull sitting back(as someone else already mentioned) is key. I also approach the bar shoulders slightly rounded and then squeeze my shoulder blades together just before I start the lift. This helps a great deal with initially getting the weight off the floor as well as keeping everything tight during the lift.

Problems can occur when you are too loose in your set up. So, really focus on those accessory muscles that are key to holding your PC tight. Try lots of arched back GMs, Dimels, and Kelso Shrugs. They have all helped me tremendously. I too have had a lot of back problems most of which have been corrected by adding muscle mass to support the spine.

Good luck!


Screw it!
I'll just do them sumo stance,as until now, and keep my back arched.