T Nation

Help Fix My Poverty Deadlift


Posted this question onto my log earlier, gonna copy paste into into its own topic to get maximum feedback. Wall of text incoming:

1RM: 445


385 emom (these are the 6-10th reps)

Speed work: 335x8x2 (first and last set not recorded)

I feel like I need an absolute overhaul. If you look at these (about 75% of my 1rm) and the ones where I was hitting heavier singles, it doesn’t matter how heavy the load they look like shit. They feel good but they’re ugly. (Note: this is all just my perception, I could be making a big deal out of nothing.)

Starting position:
I usually start hips pretty high cuz I’m tall and have shortish arms. I tried tinkering around and started getting a lower starting position, but my hips were shooting up before the weights broke off the floor. I saw you advise people to just start higher when that happens so I just went back to starting higher hips. The problem is my “ideal” hip position where the weight starts to break the floor seems like it’s almost an RDL when i look at it. (Again it feels good when I do it this way, but it looks bad when I watch it on video.)

Edit: also, what’s actual issue with starting lower and just lifting when the hips move up to that sweet spot? I’m guessing it’s a power leak? I feel like whenever I really focus mentally on “drive with the legs” is when my hips shoot up

Upper back:
My upper back is round on every rep. It doesn’t feel like an actual mechanical weakness (1. Because my traps and lats still feel packed pretty tight and 2. My back doesnt start to round when I lift, it’s round the whole time) it’s, like, a matter of mobility. When i deliberately pinch my scalpulas together and down my arms aren’t long enough to reach the bar. So I have to either 1. Loosen up my upper back a little (still trying to maintain tightness and force my scalpula together through the movement) or 2. Get in a lower starting position, which leads back to problem 1: my hips shoot up.

I’m still stuck between wearing my weightlifting shoes with a slightly elevated heel, or just wearing flat vans. The last DL session was in vans. This one started in the heeled shoe and then I did a few sets bare foot.

Heeled makes me feel like I start in a better position, and helps me get more leg drive, but sometimes makes me feel like I’m leaning forward a bit.
Flat soled shoes don’t feel bad either. Ive always deadlifted either flat soled or barefoot up until this last year when I got my new squat shoes. I’m only really asking because I’ve seen 99% of people advise against the elevated heel (with Mark Riptoe being the exception. He says they help activate the quads and give more leg drive) As far as strength goes, there’s no real discrepancies between em, and they both feel good so should I even worry about it? Is An elevated heel going to be something that is a bigger issue when I start moving more weight?


Y copy my my posts except for DL?

Sumo is the answer to all things.

Maybe we have different definitions of when a lift feels good (fast-ish, smooth, weight feels light in the hands, back braced af) but if something feels good I usually stick with it. Also it usually doesn’t look half bad like your DL

Waste of energy and the shooting up hips can do all sorts of things to mess your technique/lift like throwing the bar out in front of you, rounding out your back, losing your tightness etc.

Shoes: flats, slippers or barefoot/socks probably better. If want like more leg drive just bend knees more in the starting position or do sumo


Because it amuses me lol. Plus I’ve never heard of calling something that sucks “Poverty” before lmao.

As far as what feels good. I say it feels good if it’s easy and I feel “strong” when I’m doing it. (Keeping the bar close, good leg drive, just feeling like it’s solid) My biggest priority is fixing my rounded upper back. I legit can’t reach down far enough to grab the bar when my shoulder blades are retracted while still keeping my DL set up comfortable.

I’ve never had these form issues until the several month break from DL I’m just coming back from. Weird how something as simple as picking shit off the ground can become foreign if you don’t do it often enough.


I don’t think it looks too bad. Your knees look like they are coming quite a bit forward so limiting the flexion there (get closer to the bar - looking again you start a very long way away from the bar) may straighten you up everywhere.

Your elbow looks a bit bent to me as well. Probably worth addressing that.


Ditch the straps.

Don’t roll the bar.

Set up. Grab the bar with conviction and pull like your life depended on it.

Keep the bar close. Ditch the sweats and wear socks to protect your shins as the bar scrapes them

Work on tension in your lats and pull with a flattter back.


Ok watched your last vid. Don’t hyperextend your back


Rounding of the upper back isn’t really an issue, something you’ll see very commonly among big deadlifters.

Aslong as you are still able to engage your lats to keep the bar close to you it shouldnt be an issue.

If I was going to point to one thing in your lift that could be worth some assessment it that it doesnt ‘look’ like you engage your glutes in the movement much, looks all back and hams, and from experience thats a dangerous path to follow.

Could be wrong, hard to say from video’s only, but it does look like your glutes are letting you down. Flats will help a little here, but could require focused assistance work.



What is it about the lift that looks like the glutes aren’t firing? This might be a factor because I never really think specifically about my glutes when I DL, it’s always legs, back, and core that I’m focused on. I’ll really focus on firing my glutes and add in some RDL to give em a little extra work


Hard to put my finger on it, since I’m not a coach, but looking at the movement as a whole I don’t see what looks like a ‘hip hinge’ movement pattern. Your legs straighten, and your back ‘uncurls’, which combine to get the weight up.

Looks like you start the pull with a posterior pelvic tilt (but tuck), even though you do set-up ‘butt out’, which reminds me of my early pulling, and this would make it hard for your glutes to be engaging properly.

Watch some kettlebell swing videos and see the difference between a good hinge where the hips ‘pop’ through, and people that swing the weight by just uncurling their back, best analogy I can think of.

Sorry I can’t be more helpful. I could be way off base but its something to think about as a potential diagnosis.


So what mental cues did you use to fix it? Just really focus on squeezing the glutes and pushing the hips through? That’s pretty much how I do KB swings


Also with the RDL’s, another exercise where its easy to make the same mistake, can just end up being even more ham and lower back focused if you still don’t get the hinge right.

What halped me most were reverse linges and kettlebell swings.

I don’t do either anymore, but I did them a lot for a period until the hinge pattern ‘clicked’ and swings in particular felt completely different with a real ‘pop’.


Broadly yes, part of it is a focus but part of it was deliberately corrective.

I did for a while also deadlift with my toes on 5lb plates to exxagerate the start position. I would also drfinitely reccomend not lifting in heels.


I’m actually pretty comfortable with RDLs. On the rare occasions I do em I get crazy doms in my ass for like three days lol.

I’ll definitely try out those reverse lunges though, and yeah, I’ve decided to make the switch back to deadlifting in flats


Y delete?


Tho you’re not a SHW its quite common for heavier/bigger bellied lifters to pull sumo to accommodate their belly in the starting position. Suboptimal deadlifting position in chunkier lifters sees many SHWs squatting more than they DL.


A lot of the big guys that prefer tegular style desdlift still pull Pseudo-Sumo, hands in the same place as for your regular dead but feet Just outside the hands rather than just inside.


Don’t get started on semi sumo. There was an entire thread on that shit somewhere.


Not what I said nor can it be rationally implied from what I said.

Having suffered the injury myself this is clearly not something I would recommend.

Rounding of the upper back and rounding of the lower back are very different things physiologically, and present very different risks.

Visual rounding of the UPPER back, is rarely, if ever, actually a result of significant rounding of the spine, but is a visual effect of shoulder rotation and position, often, but not exclusively, also involving protraction of the shoulder blades and is, as I wrote, very common among deadlifters, including those at high levels, and not considered, by most, to be a high risk technique.


Some guys on tightness.


Notice I deleted my comment?

No, upper back rounding is not a major cause for concern. At the same time, I wouldn’t advise a beginner to use that sort of technique because it can easily lead to lower back rounding as well and requires a lot of muscle control to do properly.