T Nation

Deadlift Paranoia


I'm currently getting increasingly concerned about deadlifting. It is by far the best exercise for the human body I believe. In terms of muscle growth, it's awesome.

However, as my weights keep increasing I keep worrying that one day I'm going to seriously damage my back, with a herniated or slipped disc, or something similar. Doing something like this would be catastrophic to ones lifting career and life in general.

My best so far is 405x3. I know there are lots of people doing much more. I try to keep my back as flat as possible, with no rounding.

Anyone have any reccomendations about how to deadlift the safest possible?


Honestly, I find deadlifting to feel far 'safer' than some other exercises, because your back will be very quick to tell you if something's not right, and as soon as you feel that first twinge, you can just drop the weight.

Compare this to back squats or bench press, where you are somewhat trapped underneath the weight if something goes wrong.

I've had a couple instances where my back decided it didn't like what was going on as I started to come out of a deadlift. I felt it, dropped the weight, and in a couple days I was good-to-go again.



sorry I had to shout all that...

this place has seriously gone to shit...


Ya like Bauer said drop the weight if it feels bad, I've been dumb enough to keep going twice and ended up fucking my back up both times. While niether really affected my day to day activities I couldn't dead anything heavy at all for along time, the first time took me a year to get over. I've also started using a belt on maxes, I think this helps.


Please read next time. Thank you. I stated explicitly that I love deadlifting and I feel it's an excellent exercise for both strenth and hypertrophy. However I feel as though when doing higher weights it puts alot of stress on the back.

I was curious if anyone had any tips or things you can do pre-deadlift to make sure your back is ready for the stress it's about to get.


Hmm, maybe make sure you are stretching from time to time to ensure that you don't have trouble dropping down into the proper position to start... ?


just try to keep your spine in a neutral postion if at all possible. This may mean reducing the weight for a while. Because i know when i get really into it, i pull from my spine, not from my posterior chain. i think thats probably bad. Just leave your ego at the door if you are concerned about it. Thats all the advice i have on that subject, i think other coaches here have advised that you can train in other ways to increase your deadlift numbers, im sure that would involve ham raises and goodmornings, stuff like that.


If serious get this book


Or at least take a browse of the deadlift section. It has pages and pages on correct form for big lifts. It is a great book.

There is no danger if you do them correctly. If anything you will strengthen everything and have lower chance of injury from other activities.

Deadlift incorrectly you could hurt yourself. Usually though you will hurt and stop, rather than damage yourself.


I am no expert, but I feel that reverse hypers and even some back extensions are good things to throw in to kind of make sure that everything in the posterior chain is good to go. Its kind of like building your shoulders a bit to make sure you don't get injured on bench.


Deadlifts, if done correctly and safely, will add immense suze and strengh/ A must for any serious lifter.


What I was merely saying is that reverse hypers and possibly back extensions can be good insurance to help make sure you don't hurt your back deadlifting. Deadlifting is best excercise, but doing some other things can be good therapy to make sure your deadlift stays healthy.


If you have access to a reverse hyper machine then use it as part of your DL routine. I do them at the end since it opens up the discs in the back and builds strength in the posterior chain.


Currently I've been experimenting doing my first couple of warmup sets standing on 15kg plates so I get a good stretch (stil keeping my back flat of course) then when I start the heavier sets (feet on the ground) I find it easier to start each rep with a nice flat back. I also deadlift without shoes so I don't have to bend down that extra 1/2inch or so.


I've had back surgery in the past so am very careful with it. I deadlift but only with a trap bar. I know that is not the technical way the PL's do it but it takes a lot of stress off my lower back at the beginning of the lift by not having to bend forward. I stick with high rep hypers to hit the lower back directly.


I'm quite paranoid about my back health also, because I've injured myself more than once trying to go too heavy on deads.

The thing that works best for me is: before my deadlift workouts, I do a complete stretching routine (not static stretching!), and abs. This loosens up my back and gets my torso and posterior chain warmed up for the effort. This is the only time I do abs before my lift. I use the "Movement Prep" exercises from the "Core Performance" program by Mark Vestergen.

I can warm up a bench workout with light bench, but I can't warm up a deadlift workout with light deads.


Deadlift is truly one of the best exers. and and my favourite but caution is always good . one thing is that you dont have to go super heavy all the time mix it up with some higher rep ranges also try variations of the deadlift like sumo etc. even with dumbells . one other thing maybe would be like do it every two weeks to give you a chance to bounce back and keep your back healthy !

good luck t-swede


If you are lucky enough to have an experienced PLer at your gym, have them check your form. I watch people attempt deads at my gym and most have horrible form. The advice I give to you is to stay behind the bar or at the most have your shoulders even with the bar. Too many times I see people allowing their upper bodies to get in front of the bar which will put a lot of stress on the lower back.

Also practice getting air into your belly. If you train with a belt, keep it loose enough that you can force your abs out against it which will keep your lower back protected. Other things like sumo or traditional, rounded back, arched, more straight legged or squatting down, as well as head up or head down are individual choices.
Go to elitefts.com and read some articles on deadlifting.

I dead in the 700's and at no time do I feel any stress in my back. It's all in the hips. Keep pulln'. There's nothing like peeling that weight off the floor and looking in the mirror to see both sides of the bar bending.



It's good to know that someone can get your level and not have any back issues. I have just started really working on my dl form.

Your post is really motivating for one to keep meticulous form. Thanks.


Personally, I took that article with a grain of salt. Then I went to the gym and deadlifted. I agree that front squats are a good idea compared to the back squat, especially when you're training for reps. But I still don't see the danger in DLing if you make sure to keep the bar against your shins. I love to deadlift.

I think it all comes down to personal preference. I agree with Bauer97, biomechanically you are in a far better position when Dling compared to squatting or bench pressing, where you're at the mercy of the bar if something goes wrong.


I don't know if anyone agrees, but when deadlifting heavy for reps, I find that bouncing it off the floor places stress on my lower back, and I can feel it the following day. Many people have a tendancy to do this. Always be in control of the weight.

I only weight ~185, and I'm deadlifting over 500, not great, but at my weight it's not bad. I have been fortunate to have avoided any deadlift related injuries to this point.

Also, identify where your weakness on your lift is and work on that. I was failing at the top, so I did a few weeks of rack pulls at the top 18" to bring the upper range on par with the lower.