Glass Joe

Cliff notes: If you are unable to do deadlifts off a block without injuring your low back, does this indicate some weakness or lack of mobility? What are good ways to strengthen the lower back that are safer? Would switching to sumo help possibly?

tl;dr version: Since starting to compete in PL in 2005 my bench and squat numbers have gone up steadily but my deadlift, which started out as my only good lift, increases have been few and far between. What helped my pull the most was doing most of my squat and deadlift training with no belt to work the lower back and core harder.

Most of my deadlifts I did off a 3" block until close to the contests. I worked to 565 conventional in the gym with some left over in late 2007. Later the deadlifts off blocks started bothering me, but being stubborn I tried to ignore the discomfort and last July I could no longer pull 405- it was like my lower back would just shut off when I started to strain.

I took a month off, and to train for a December 2008 meet I used some pause squats to build the start of the deadlift. At the meet I did 500 and 525 easy but 540 I started out wrong it was too far in front so I missed, but at least I’d made progress and was moving back to my old best.

After the meet I started a cycle of stiff-leg deadlifts off a plate and am now in pain all the time. I wear a belt for any squat over 275 and am taking at least a month off deadlifting.

I’m at a loss of what to do though- I’m thinking maybe I simply should stay away from this deficit deadlift business and possibly switch to sumo.