T Nation

DEADLIFTS

Hello guys, this subject has always been ambiguous to me. You all put deadlifts as #1. My ART/chiropracter/ALL doctors put deadlifts as = “SPINAL SUICIDE”. It’s a dilemma because I don’t know what will happen down the line in my life. I am 18, and I have been doing deadlifts, but shouldn’t we listen to doctors that have experience in dealing with patients that come in with back problems, etc? I don’t think I’m ‘naive’ by stating my concerns, I would just like to see if some people out there see deadlifts as a ‘future’ problem. Maybe I’m paranoid? I’d like to know your opinions.

Well, yes, I can well imagine getting an back injury with DLs. I know at least 2 people that have injured their back with deadlifts. Having examined their form, I found some minor yet fatal execution flaws which were likely the cause.

However, I know an 80-year old ex-navy guy that used to deadlift 400-pound torpedo shells, and he’s still a fit guy with no back problems.

The point is, make DAMN sure you’re using proper form, try to get someone knowledgeable to check out your form closely. Also, use weights you’re comfortable with and increase it gradually. If your peak deadlifting was 5x225lb Monday, you should increase it to maybe 5x235lb…Don’t just go ahead and deadlift, say, 255lb, because you’re more likely to injure yourself. Limit the increase to about 10lb/week.

Things to watch out for:

-don’t swing your arms; make sure you’re raising the bar in a straight vertical line

-in the starting position, the bar should be almost touching your shins

-make sure your lower back is arched or straight, as opposed to curved

-once at the top, either put the weight down very carefully, or drop it

So anyway, if you use proper form and a weight that you can control well, you shouldn’t have any back problems. However, it is very easy to make some tiny mistake in your form that does some damage. Most likely, injuries are caused by lifting more weight than you really can.

I’m sorry, ALL doctors say what?

Read “The Dead Zone.” It goes over the ten biggest deadlifting mistakes.

All doctors do not condemn deadlifts. you have to use good form. I’d also recommend Dave Tate’s The Dead Zone article.

Funny thing is, returning to heavy deadlifts is what fixed my aching back of some 18 years +. form, form, form.

you need a new doctor.

T-puppy, my chiroprator, ART therapist, and physical-training guru are all wrapped up in one guy - Dr. Mike Hartle. He and Mike Robertson just put me on a program that includes deadlifts (Romanian and sumo).
I and most T-forum-ers understand your concern - I was afraid of them for quite a while myself. Performed incorrectly, deadlifts can be very dangerous - I’ve heard many a story where coaches at meets are encouraging the most awful techniques.
The above advice is correct - search ‘T-mag’ for hints. As for myself, I try to keep these things in mind:

  • Focus on lowering yourself by moving your backside rearward.
  • Focus on keeping your shoulder blades retracted - this protects the spine.
  • Also focus on keeping your chest up-and-out throughout the move - this will help prevent the dreaded rounded shoulders.

Start light, and good luck.

T.E. Young

All my back problems have gone away since I started dedlifting. Both upper and lower back issues. I love how these doctors will teach you how to protect your lower back by staying on your ass in front of the television, not how to strengthen it by actually using it. They show you how to avoid anything that might actually fix your problems or prevent future problems. Absolute bullshit. I can’t type anymore because I’m too angry.

Are deadlifts used for back or legs?I was searching for videos to check if i am using a correct form and i found it under legs exercises, it seems that only affects the lower back, but mostly legs.this is the link :
http://www.ballyfitness.com/rapid_results/expert_advice/video_clips/video.asp?27

I have a hard time doing this exercise while maintaining my back straight, so i use light weights(i am also using a belt).

3dmuscle

 Deadlifts strengthen your back. If you're just starting out with deadlifts, and try to play superman with more weight than you can handle, with less than good form you are bound to injure yourself. I would speculate those 'injurees' coming in through doctor's offices because of deadlifts, had a little too much fun trying to impress the girl at the gym with their massive weightlifting and poor form (you know wobbling all the way up and down, staring down during the movement, failing to maintain your lower back arched)

3d, keep your head up (pick a point high up on a wall in front of you for example) and focus on keeping your back straight. If your back starts to round, try again. If you can’t actively keep your back flat, drop the weight down. It’s a leg exercise until the bar crosses your knees, then it becomes a back exercise. The higher you go, the more your traps take over and when you’re at the top of the lift, it’s pretty much all traps and forearms. If a rounded back is an issue even at low weights, your weak link is likely your lower back and this needs to be corrected, unless it’s just poor lifting form.

It’s been a while since I looked at it, but I remember the deadlift demonstrated in Ian King’s “Killer Leg…” video in the ‘t-mag’ store. Also, Ian now has a video at his site “www.getbuffed.net” devoted exclusively to the deadlift. FYI…

T.E. Young

Remember that doctors of any type only see injured people. All the rest of us who do deadlifts correctly and are not injured haven’t been to the doc, so of course he can’t know how often deads are done without injury, right? It’s a totally skewed opinion of deads!

The lifts that offer the most potential for muscular gains are always the lifts with the most potential risk of injury. Just like all lifting, correct form is the key to success with good health.

I think that when you’re searching for common ground in an issue, especially with weight lifting, asking an opinion of an expert at either end of the spectrum will get you no closer to an answer than banging your head against a brick wall.

Someone like a strength coach, or performance specialist can weight the costs vs. the benefits FOR YOU and decide if they’re an exercise you need to do.

Someone like Dr Hartle would be ideal. I’m jealous to think that some of the T-Peeps have him as a trainer/chiro. I’ve often thought about making the trek out to see Dr. Kinakin, but convenience dictates my current chiro.

Deadlifts are king, if they’re right for you.

Hey thanks for the tip CGB, I think this is it, since i kind of tend to look down while lifting.

3dmuscle

Try a a few sets of high rep deads ad you will quickly see why they are #1.

Try 2-3x50reps with say about 95lbs [it all depends on your strength though].
Keep proper form but for the purpose of this exercise don’t touch the floor.

One more problem with the deadlift is that often times people that do them.
Do them to often with out working the muscles that improve the deadlift [hams, abs, lowerback, obliques].

One final point side bends, suit case deadlifts and diagonal exercises will help keep the back strong in the long run. Working the external obliques and the QL.

Good luck and get to deadlifting!!!

I pull 650 and my back feels great.

3:16, you’re right on the money.

3D, I was stuck for a couple months and couldn’t increase my deadlift at all and constantly had problems with my back rounding. So, I re-read Ian King’s blurb on how to do them and re-read Dave Tate’s Dead Zone article on the top 10 deadlift mistakes and got to work. I started concentrating on keeping my head high and my back straight and lo and behold, I’ve added 65 pounds to my lift in a month. I’ll tell you, the head up point is so key. It not only prevents you from traveling forward or the bar traveling forward, it helps tremendously to keep your back flat and allows you to totally concentrate on the pull and nothing else. Forget about risk of a rounded back, moving forward etc., you can just focus on the explosive pull. Pull so hard you feel like your arms might come off… but they won’t. The weight will move and you’ll have a nice, healthy back.

Thanks for your opinions and replies everybody. However, I had an extra paragraph that the forum did not post. It went something like this…I was confused why it was thought that deadlifts work the back ‘muscles’. I looked at a muscle chart hanging up in the doctors office and instead of having the muscles outlined in red, the middle of the lower back was comprised of grey area (ligaments…?) So, if this is the case, why would you want to strengthen that?

My second point was that I’m not just starting out. I didn’t write this post because I’m new to deadlifts, I just didn’t want to continue doing them for the fear of screwing up later on in my life. The other day I did 275 for 5 reps.

And for the guy that said he saw an 80 year old man deadlift 400 pound torpedo’s…take advantage of that! Ask to be his workout partner! Not only would he want someone ‘young’ to work out with…but you would also learn SO much from him, he has 10X more experience than people here. Think about it, he started lifting weights before weightlifting was even introduced into the country…rebel :slight_smile: I really respect people like that.

T-Puppy,

The gray area was likely the lumbar fascia. It simply covers the underlying muscles (spinalis, longissimus, iliocostalis). Just do your deadlifts.