T Nation

Deadlifting Conundrum

Hello everyone, new to the forum so please be kind :slight_smile: I have a problem with my deadlift that I’d like advice from you experts.

Background info:
I have been using a Madcow program for about 3 years now. I am still seeing gains in my lifts. My 1RM for deads is 455 and I weigh 175. I lift raw, mixed grip, once per week, and supplement with assistance exercises after. My goals are strength development, not necessarily mass or hypertrophy.

Problem:
From time to time I strain my lower back on the last rep or so of the last set of deads. 99% of the time my form is great but that 1% of the time when fatigue weakens my concentration I will tweak my back and then be out of the weight room for 2 weeks. It has happened about 4 times in the last 3 years. It is disheartening and the layoffs kill me.

Questions:

  1. Should I switch from 5x5 to Singles? My rationale is that if I’m doing single reps my form is more likely to stay intact throughout thus eliminating injuries and missing workouts.
  2. If I do switch to singles, will I still experience strength gains or will I just be maintaining my current strength level? My goal is to continue strength development. I’ve been considering it for awhile but I don’t have any experience with singles and am afraid to stall my strength gains.
  3. What other suggestions do you have to remedy this problem? I know form is key but I believe I’ve identified the problem and switching to singles seems to be a possible solution, am I wrong?

Additional Info:
I love deadlifting and would never consider eliminating it unless absolutely necessary.
I prefer lifting raw. I’ve considered using a belt, but would like to avoid it if possible.
I do the appropriate warmup sets, stretching, and foam rolling.
I have long arms and legs, and a tight lower back and hamstrings.

Thanks in advance for the help everyone.

What is your reason for wanting to avoid a belt? You keep specifying that you lift raw, but a belt is still raw, and would go a long way toward helping you.

Other suggestions I would have is to consider training deadlifts touch and go rather than with a dead stop. You’ll find that maintaining the constant tension in the back required by touch and go will go a long way in keeping your back strong and secure. That was my experience after training with a back injury for several years. I would invest in a good pair of straps with this as well, so you can focus more on the deadlift and less on losing the bar. Ensure that you train your grip as well.

I was thinking about starting a thread like this, but for squats I have the exact same problem. Any more advice would be helpful…

Everyone at my gym I asked recommended a belt so I finally bought one last week after 10 years of not using a belt. Still have not used it yet as I’m giving my back a break until Dec. As someone who is just as anti-belt as you it seems like a reasonable solution to the problem if it prevents injury.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
What is your reason for wanting to avoid a belt? You keep specifying that you lift raw, but a belt is still raw, and would go a long way toward helping you.

Other suggestions I would have is to consider training deadlifts touch and go rather than with a dead stop. You’ll find that maintaining the constant tension in the back required by touch and go will go a long way in keeping your back strong and secure. That was my experience after training with a back injury for several years. I would invest in a good pair of straps with this as well, so you can focus more on the deadlift and less on losing the bar. Ensure that you train your grip as well.[/quote]

This seems reasonable, a few times I have hurt myself on heavier deadlifts and it was usually resetting my grip when it started to fail which requires a dead stop during a touch and go set.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
What is your reason for wanting to avoid a belt? You keep specifying that you lift raw, but a belt is still raw, and would go a long way toward helping you.

Other suggestions I would have is to consider training deadlifts touch and go rather than with a dead stop. You’ll find that maintaining the constant tension in the back required by touch and go will go a long way in keeping your back strong and secure. That was my experience after training with a back injury for several years. I would invest in a good pair of straps with this as well, so you can focus more on the deadlift and less on losing the bar. Ensure that you train your grip as well.[/quote]

I guess I just don’t want to rely on any equipment, but I suppose I’m at a point where I need one. Could you please provide some suggestions of good ones?

I really don’t get the anti-belt stance you people take.

The evolution of 5x5, is that at some point your strength level will have you over reaching to hit 5sets of 5reps at the same weight. you can continue to use this program for life if that your desire, but you will need to adapt as your strength increases, thats why programs such as 531 or WSFSB take different rep ranges in to acount or delaods. If I were you and your comitted to a 5x5 program. I wuld shitf my focus to the 25 reps instead of 5x5. So simply make sure you get your first set of 5 reps, then after that cocentrate on getting 20 more reps, in what ever configeration of sets and reps it takes. Also think about working with less weight every 4th or so week, to let your body catch up. Thereès been articles about this exact idea here before. i think by Eric Creasy. The easier answewr is just switch to 531.

[quote]Highlander4 wrote:

I guess I just don’t want to rely on any equipment, but I suppose I’m at a point where I need one. Could you please provide some suggestions of good ones? [/quote]

You aren’t relying on anything, you’re simply doing what it takes to get bigger and stronger.

Since it’s difficult to link things here, for a starter belt, look for the proflex sports 4" Suede Power Belt. Should cost like $12. If you want to dive into the deep end, get a inzer 13mm forever lever belt.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]Highlander4 wrote:

I guess I just don’t want to rely on any equipment, but I suppose I’m at a point where I need one. Could you please provide some suggestions of good ones? [/quote]

You aren’t relying on anything, you’re simply doing what it takes to get bigger and stronger.

Since it’s difficult to link things here, for a starter belt, look for the proflex sports 4" Suede Power Belt. Should cost like $12. If you want to dive into the deep end, get a inzer 13mm forever lever belt.[/quote]

Should I be using straps as well? I don’t have a problem with my grip as long as I go over/under.

[quote]Highlander4 wrote:
Hello everyone, new to the forum so please be kind :slight_smile: I have a problem with my deadlift that I’d like advice from you experts.

Background info:
I have been using a Madcow program for about 3 years now. I am still seeing gains in my lifts. My 1RM for deads is 455 and I weigh 175. I lift raw, mixed grip, once per week, and supplement with assistance exercises after. My goals are strength development, not necessarily mass or hypertrophy.

Problem:
From time to time I strain my lower back on the last rep or so of the last set of deads. 99% of the time my form is great but that 1% of the time when fatigue weakens my concentration I will tweak my back and then be out of the weight room for 2 weeks. It has happened about 4 times in the last 3 years. It is disheartening and the layoffs kill me.

Questions:

  1. Should I switch from 5x5 to Singles? My rationale is that if I’m doing single reps my form is more likely to stay intact throughout thus eliminating injuries and missing workouts.
  2. If I do switch to singles, will I still experience strength gains or will I just be maintaining my current strength level? My goal is to continue strength development. I’ve been considering it for awhile but I don’t have any experience with singles and am afraid to stall my strength gains.
  3. What other suggestions do you have to remedy this problem? I know form is key but I believe I’ve identified the problem and switching to singles seems to be a possible solution, am I wrong?

Additional Info:
I love deadlifting and would never consider eliminating it unless absolutely necessary.
I prefer lifting raw. I’ve considered using a belt, but would like to avoid it if possible.
I do the appropriate warmup sets, stretching, and foam rolling.
I have long arms and legs, and a tight lower back and hamstrings.

Thanks in advance for the help everyone.
[/quote]

Are you pyramiding up in weight? Or are you doing sets across?

I agree with everyone who mentioned a belt. A belt is a good idea the stronger you get. Belts may increase your abdominal strength too. Just do your warm-ups without it.

[quote]jdrannin1 wrote:

[quote]Highlander4 wrote:
Hello everyone, new to the forum so please be kind :slight_smile: I have a problem with my deadlift that I’d like advice from you experts.

Background info:
I have been using a Madcow program for about 3 years now. I am still seeing gains in my lifts. My 1RM for deads is 455 and I weigh 175. I lift raw, mixed grip, once per week, and supplement with assistance exercises after. My goals are strength development, not necessarily mass or hypertrophy.

Problem:
From time to time I strain my lower back on the last rep or so of the last set of deads. 99% of the time my form is great but that 1% of the time when fatigue weakens my concentration I will tweak my back and then be out of the weight room for 2 weeks. It has happened about 4 times in the last 3 years. It is disheartening and the layoffs kill me.

Questions:

  1. Should I switch from 5x5 to Singles? My rationale is that if I’m doing single reps my form is more likely to stay intact throughout thus eliminating injuries and missing workouts.
  2. If I do switch to singles, will I still experience strength gains or will I just be maintaining my current strength level? My goal is to continue strength development. I’ve been considering it for awhile but I don’t have any experience with singles and am afraid to stall my strength gains.
  3. What other suggestions do you have to remedy this problem? I know form is key but I believe I’ve identified the problem and switching to singles seems to be a possible solution, am I wrong?

Additional Info:
I love deadlifting and would never consider eliminating it unless absolutely necessary.
I prefer lifting raw. I’ve considered using a belt, but would like to avoid it if possible.
I do the appropriate warmup sets, stretching, and foam rolling.
I have long arms and legs, and a tight lower back and hamstrings.

Thanks in advance for the help everyone.
[/quote]

Are you pyramiding up in weight? Or are you doing sets across?

I agree with everyone who mentioned a belt. A belt is a good idea the stronger you get. Belts may increase your abdominal strength too. Just do your warm-ups without it. [/quote]

I pyramid as madcow calls for, ending with 1 set of 5 heavy reps.

My question about the belt is that when my form breaks down it is very slight, will the belt help with that?

[quote]Highlander4 wrote:

Should I be using straps as well? I don’t have a problem with my grip as long as I go over/under. [/quote]

I would definitely use straps for touch and go.

[quote]Highlander4 wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
What is your reason for wanting to avoid a belt? You keep specifying that you lift raw, but a belt is still raw, and would go a long way toward helping you.

Other suggestions I would have is to consider training deadlifts touch and go rather than with a dead stop. You’ll find that maintaining the constant tension in the back required by touch and go will go a long way in keeping your back strong and secure. That was my experience after training with a back injury for several years. I would invest in a good pair of straps with this as well, so you can focus more on the deadlift and less on losing the bar. Ensure that you train your grip as well.[/quote]

I guess I just don’t want to rely on any equipment, but I suppose I’m at a point where I need one. Could you please provide some suggestions of good ones? [/quote]

Don’t think of it as relying on a belt, it’s simply a safety precaution and will keep you more stable…if you plan on training for a long time, anything that can help you avoid injuries is well worth the investment

Go to Lift-Run-Bang there’s a video, right up front, of him pulling 650 from a deficit without a belt. I guess years ago he decided to adress a weakness, figure out what he needed to strengthen along the way to getting strong, but you could just go get a belt to solve that problem, then when your grip gives up, get some straps. thats one rout to take, the one the masses follow. Anyway my earlier post, I was under the asumtion you were doing all 5 sets at max weight, not familiar with madcow, but it sounds like a better rout. I would work on my form, and do weighted ab work, and side bends. form can always be improved.

When you get a belt, you should only really use it on your top set or two anyway, so at some point in the future as you get stronger, you’ll have to handle 455lb without a belt on the way to your top sets. might as well adress the problems now. I use a belt to compete, but the rest of the year, work on a strong body, base, and core. Lift-Run-Bang lots of good info. Goodluck

[quote]AnytimeJake wrote:
When you get a belt, you should only really use it on your top set or two anyway, so at some point in the future as you get stronger, you’ll have to handle 455lb without a belt on the way to your top sets. [/quote]

That is the plan :slight_smile:

Any opinions as to whether I should be resetting or touch and go? I’ve been resetting, not for grip issues but because it feels more “true” to the lift…

Also, I’m thinking of getting an Inzer Forever Buckle belt. I have some questions though…

  1. One or two prong? Why?
  2. 10mm or 13mm thickness? Why?

Thanks!

[quote]Highlander4 wrote:
From time to time I strain my lower back on the last rep or so of the last set of deads. 99% of the time my form is great but that 1% of the time when fatigue weakens my concentration I will tweak my back and then be out of the weight room for 2 weeks.

I know form is key but I believe I’ve identified the problem and switching to singles seems to be a possible solution, am I wrong?
[/quote]

I agree with the premise but not sure I agree with the conclusion. If you tend to round your lower back and be prone to injury whenever you do that, wouldn’t that also happen whenever you push yourself with heavy singles?

My advice is twofold:
(1) Never do reps on the deadlift with a rounded lower back, even if you could muscle it out.
(2) Increase your lower back strength in the arched position with assistance exercises like RDLs, GMs, back extensions so it will not be your Achilles’ heel anymore, even when you go for PRs.

^^ This^^

[quote]Highlander4 wrote:
Also, I’m thinking of getting an Inzer Forever Buckle belt. I have some questions though…

  1. One or two prong? Why?
  2. 10mm or 13mm thickness? Why?

Thanks![/quote]
People will tell you that two prong is overly difficult to get on and off, but I’ve never really had an issue. You don’t need the belt absurdly tight, just enough that you can brace with maximum force against it. Prongs shouldn’t really matter.

I like 10mm belts personally, especially for deadlifts. 13mm messes with my positioning just a little bit on deads, but I don’t mind it for squats. I use a belt for heavy benching as well, and I prefer 10mm over 13mm there. This is a matter of personal preference though of course. I have always liked the slightly more flexible belt/wrist wraps/knee wraps/knee sleeves than the really stiff heavy duty stuff.