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Deadlift Variations for a Sensitive Back

For some reason lately my back has been more sensitive than usual. I cant do normal deadlifts without some kind of pain after and my max has dropped significantly even though I have not taken a break from the exercise. I suspect it is the pain and fear of injury more than a loss of actual strength. So does anyone have suggestions for primary deadlift/hip hinge movements I can do that wont aggravate my back. The pain is in two places now: my lower back and my middle back right where the ribs meet the spine.

Snatch Grip Deadlift involves the quads more than the lower back and are a great exercise. I suspect if your having pain you should check your form as rounding your back while deadlifting can sometimes cause injury. Pain is not normal with deadlifting.

Your middle back (i.e. your thoracic spine) is an unusual place to get pain, it might be worth getting a check-up from your doctor.

With my shitty health plan I cant afford an MRI, so going to the doctor will probably be pointless. Hurray for obamacare.

Do you have access to a trap bar?

Rack Deadlifts, from below your kneecap, but above floor height.
Below your knee, so you still have to hinge, but you only go down as far as you can pain free.

And you pull out of the rack, against double bands.
This way you can’t do anything silly, like kinda row with 1 side, or push harder with 1 leg. With the band tension, your arms automatically hang straight, and you are forced to really drive the hips through. You can also sort of pull “back” against the bands.

First time, try 8-10 total reps, around 50% of your DL with doubled light, or average bands.

I tried something similar yesterday. I took about 50 to 60% of my 1 RM and hinged down to my knees, then paused for 3 seconds and went up. They were tough but I recovered from them surprisingly easy. The rack would make it so more weight could be used.


The ROM you can handle, with a weight you can handle.

Romanian DL’s with dumbbells are great for the kind of exercise you did yesterday.

I would consider sumo deads as well. The more upright posture reduces shear stress on the low back.

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SLRL until your back is stronger.

Ever consider getting a suit? You can use it in strongman, and it might help you bypass the part that is causing you difficulty.

Stop deadlifting for a while. Work on getting your back bigger and stronger in those specific areas and then come back to deadlifting to see how it feels. If you can, try SSB box squats as a DL replacement. I’ve found they make my back work very hard but don’t stress it as much as deadlifts. Also, if you can, try reverse hypers.

Have you tried reducing the frequency of deadlifting, say from once per week to once per two weeks?

my back hates all deadlift variations, but I’ve been doing ok with (very) high rep good mornings of late.

All good suggestions. I think maybe going to the trap bar as the primary mover and the secondary lift being Romanian deadlifts to just below the knee will be a good starting point. I will give those a try on my next deadlift session.

Zercher Goodmorning off of pins. I set it high enough so that my back is a little closer to parallel to the ground than with a conventional deadlift. I didn’t find the discomfort of the Zercher any worse than front squats after I got used to it.

You’ll work all the muscles for deadlifting and hit them hard except the quads. You’ll also be using about half your deadlift max so your joints will be spared.

A short to long deload might be in order too. It might be a good idea to drop deadlifts and back squats all together for some weeks while you get your back healed and do the work to prevent it from happening. That still leaves you with very good choices for whatever your goals are unless your a powerlifter.

that’s a pretty cool idea

I do zercher squats off the pins already on a separate day. Those don’t usually bother me. Ill change up the deadlift day and see what happens. If it still continues Ill take it a step further and modify the squat day.

They only count if you do them seated with an axle

Also, it’s the most effective way to blow out all the capillaries from one shoulder clear across your chest to the other.

any excuse to post a pic/video of your outrageous home gym!

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