T Nation

Deadlift Technique Update

formcheck

#1

Hello! I’m looking for tips from experienced lifters. I made a thread on my deadlift form earlier this week (Max Effort Deadlift Form Check) and after reading advice from more experienced lifters I came to the conclusion that my back wasn’t properly braced before pulling. I’ve made 2 videos of me pulling 225 and 315 below:

225lbs


315lbs

What I notice is that my technique looks pretty good in the first video, which makes sense as I’m pulling less weight. I’ve really made an effort to get my chest up before each lift. However as the weight increases you can see my back round (see 2nd video of 315lbs). Is that amount of rounding significant? I don’t see how I’d be able to pull near maximal efforts without my form breaking down significantly.

What are some things I can do to improve this? Like I said before I made a conscious effort to bring my chest up and brace myself before the lift, but my back still rounds almost immediately. Tips from experienced lifters? Thanks.


#2

If you watch your video at half speed you can see pretty significant rounding. This is not ideal, as others have mentioned you might be able to get away with it, but for many it will catch up to you and cause injury. I think it’s particularly problematic b/c you had significant rounding and that 315 pull looked well under your 1RM based on bar speed. In other words, that’s a lot of rounding for a sub 1RM pull.

It seems your hams and glutes are strong but your back needs a lot of work to hold position.

Reverse hypers, heavy rows, and work on mobility. Others here will have much better advice based on experience.


#3

Thanks for the reply knobby, you make some excellent points. 315 is in fact well below my 1rm and my concern was exactly what you said. My back should not be rounding this much at this weight.

I’m guessing I have decent strength in my glutes (300x5 high bar squat below parallel). My hamstrings on the other hand are stiff and weak. I haven’t done anything to really work them other than deadlifts and squats. I also sit all day so they’re extremely tight to the point where I can really feel a good stretch even getting set up for the lift. Recently I’ve been doing glute ham raises using my bed for ankle support and just started stretching the hamstrings.

I do pendlay rows twice a week at a pretty high intensity so I’m not convinced its an issue with upper back strength. My strict form pendlay row is 215x5 for a 5 rep max. I do strongly suspect mobility issues, tight hamstrings and hip flexors in particular. The thing is I’m not exactly sure how tight hamstrings and hip flexors would result in a rounded back.


#4

I doubt its this, or any weakness, in my opinion more likely just poor technique and as you’ve been doing for a while it will take time to adjust to lifting with a neutral spine. Even on the 225 there is a good amount of rounding both before you start the lift and during.

Spend a good amount of time with light weights, getting the form right and only increase the weight once your are satisfied you can get it with appropriate form.


#5

Try pushing through your feet to initiate the movement, rather than pulling straight off the ground. Get in good position, all the cues you already know and everything, get the chest up, and push through your feet before you think about pulling it. Just one guy’s opinion, hope it helps!


#6

Thanks, now that you pointed it out, I do notice some rounding in the 225 pull.

I just tried this right now, I can keep my back neutral if I’m more upright and the lower back is clearly extended. The lower I bend (like going to pick up a barbell) the more difficult it becomes to maintain this neutral spine. What could this signal?


#7

This


#8

Rather than thinking about bending over to get to the bar try to think about pushing your hips back, kinda like you do in an rdl, maintaining a neutral spine. Then once you grip the bar you can using it as a counter balance to shift your hips lower (if you want to) and take the slack out the bar before you pull.
There’s a supertraining.tv YouTube with Chris duffin on deadlifting which is good, should check it out


#9

Thanks Gt, and that’s the thing. My hamstrings are so tight I can barely get my hands below my knees in an rdl position without feeling a huge stretch. I’ve been doing some mobility work so I’ll see how it goes the next time I try it. I really do think it could be a mobility problem. I think my hamstrings are tight and my shoulders hunch forward to compensate when I grab the bar.


#10

It might not only be hamstrings, differences in hip anatomy and limb lengths make it difficult or impossible to even set up for a conventional deadlift with a neutral spine. I’m not saying that this is definitely your problem, but it is common. The solution is to switch to sumo. If you can’t sort out your start position then give it a try. Either way you will still need to learn to maintain tension throughout your back, lats, and abs.


#11

Thanks Chris I’ll see what happens in a week. If I haven’t made any improvements I think I’ll start giving sumo a try.

Any opinions on squat stance deadlifts?


#12

I don’t really have an opinion. Your stance for each lift should be wherever you are the strongest, if it happens to be the same for both then so be it. Keep in mind that your deadlift start position will never be the same as the bottom of your squat, you are limited by how much weight you can lift through the sticking point and that will be a different point for each lift.


#13

One thing I also noticed is that guys like Pete rubish and George Leeman almost always have some upper back rounding before they lift. They key difference was that their backs didn’t round any more than it was already after lifting the weight. So they start off rounded, but their back maintains that curvature. My back starts off slightly rounded like them, but instead gives way when I begin the pull


#14

idontbrag123,

You upper back is slightly rounding, which is fine. Lower back rounding isn’t.

"A Strong Case for The Round Back Deadlift.

This article by Bret Contreras explain it in more detail.

Also, in a Conventional Powerlifting Deadlift, breaking the weight off the floor is initiated with the back, then leg drive kicks in. This method allows more weight to be “Pulled”, Contreras notes that in his article.

Dr Tom McLaughlin’s (PhD Exercise Biomechanics/former Powerlifter) found the muscle firing sequence in a Conventional Powerlifting Deadlift is Back > Legs > Back; the back breaking the weight off the floor.

This method is very effective for Powerlifters. However, it ineffective for Olympic Lifter.

The Deadlift for Olympic Lifters essentially is the “First Pull”. The “First Pull” need to be initiated with legs while maintaining a neutral back position.

The emphasis of Deadlift for increasing strength for the “First Pull” is to properly position the back for the “Second Pull”, where the greatest power is produced.

A Conventional Powerlifting Deadlift with some upper back rounding enables more weight to be Deadlifted.

However, upper back rounding dampens power in the “Second Pull” of a Clean or Snatch.

Upper back rounding is good for maximizing your Conventional Powerlifting Deadlift and contra-indicates if for Olympic Lifters.

Your objective determines you Conventional Deadlift Technique.

Kenny Croxdale


#15

It may very well be a mental issue as your lower back looks like it might be rounding before you’ve even cleared the floor.

I humbly recommend adding RDL’s and rack pulls in. RDL’s will strengthen the area beyond belief of done right and rack pulls will let you work with heavier weight through potential mobility or mental issues.

Dave Tate says when it comes to lifts breaking down, it’s a weak point, a technical issue, or a mental one. Deadlifts are especially bad on mental issues. I’ve used rack pulls to work through more than one.

Weighted good mornings are also a great exercise, but I would start very light on them if you use them as getting out of sorts can be catastrophic for your back.

Just a fellow traveler a little farther down the road.


#16

I think a lot of your problems will go away if you bring the bar closer (about an inch) to your shins and keep your hips a bit higher.


#17

No way, his lower back is totally rounded. Look at the 315 video.

Look for an article titled “Thoughts for round-backed deadlifters” by Mike Tuchscherer. This is not a technique that you can reasonably justify for a beginner. Some people’s backs can take the loaded flexion, a lot can’t.

Intentional upper back rounding is an advanced technique and it doesn’t work for everyone either. It’s not something a beginner should attempt before learning proper basic technique.


#18

Upper Back Rounding

It is not something that anyone teaches. It something that naturally occurs during Max Deadlifts.

The body naturally find the least path of resistance.

Kenny Croxdale


#19

While it might occur during max deadlifts, there are actually people who pull all their deadlifts this way and also teach others to do the same. Konstantin Konstantinov for example, although his rounding is rather extreme. In most cases, the idea is to set up with the shoulders rolled forward and some degree of thoracic flexion to improve leverages off the floor.


#20

Thanks for the helpful replies guys. I have been working on technique and flexibility and will get some videos up in the coming days. I think I really improved in terms of keeping my lower back arched. However, I feel that no matter what I do, my upper back always appears slightly hunched even with extremely light weight. It’s like I cannot physically set up without keeping my upper back perfectly neutral. I’ll try to get some vids up asap.