T Nation

High Frequency Deadlifts and Lower Back Pain



I’ve got a tight lower back which has been sore for a couple of weeks now and I’d like advice on what to do about it.

I’ve been deadlifting 3 times a week for a couple of months now with supporting exercises.

My reps are doubles/singles. I start light and build to a relaxed sub max. I always stay fresh. Never bust a gut trying to lift beyond my capabilities. And I’m careful with form.

First 6 weeks were great. Now I’ve got a tight lower back and low grade pain. Could it be I’m a newbie and my lower back is the weakest link?

I’ve started targeting my lower back to see if I need to stengthen it with Romanian deadlifts, back raises and core work.

Should I take a few days off from deadlifting till the soreness recedes or do I continue, being mindful of weight and how I feel?

Grateful for your advice.


So… is soreness, not injury e.g. spinal erector strain?

If so maybe your lower back is under-recovering long term. It already takes a hammering from heavy DLs and Squats and is slow to recover. If you are having issues recovering adding work in will exacerbate the problem. Constantly playing recovery catch up is no fun.

Short term fatigue mismanagement i.e. workout to workout could also be a possibility. Why are you DLing 3 times per week?

Go with your gut. If it feels like an injury take time off if its soreness look at fatigue management strategies e.g. eat more, sleep more and program better.


Post a video.


Thanks @khangles. I will watch those videos later.

It does not feel like an injury. I don’t feel pain when I lift.

As to why 3 times a week? I’ve read articles by Dan Johns and Pavel (can’t spell his surname) about frequency, lifting more often but “practicing” as opposed to grinding out reps. There’s also a daily DL program I’ve read about.

I do feel fine after deadlifts as I don’t grind them out. But maybe I am underestimating the impact DLs have on the body?


When and how often do you squat? When and how often do you do row-type movements for your lats?


Hi @EyeDentist. This is my routine:


DL + Overhead press. Start light, work up doing doubles & single reps up to a sub max. Whatever I ‘feel’ I can do that day while keeping fresh. Then I do pull ups and pistol squats (box level). I use Pavel’s ladders approach with these. Building reps, staying away from failure. I finish with core work.

Rowing. Normally intervals.

Same as Tuesday.


Rowing. 1 hour steady.

Same as Tuesday.


So, you’re working your lower back 5x/week. Would you not agree that might have something to do with your chronic lower back tightness/pain?


@EyeDentist. I hadn’t considered rowing to impact on my lower back at all. I thought it is all upper back and core. And by the way when I say rowing I don’t mean weights. I mean rowing machine. Apologies if you already understood that.

If rowing does impact on my lower back, I guess I need to rethink one…or even two of my deadlifts…

Not sure how to play this. Any suggestions?


Where did you come up with this program? I don’t often see worse programming than this. It looks like you came up with it yourself. Did you?

I can’t deadlift more than once every other week and stay healthy. Most people can do once per week. I rarely see more frequent deadlifting than this. 3 is too much, even at submaximal weights. It takes a long time to recover from a deadlift session, even with relatively light weights. I would suggest deadlifting once per week, and making that a more intense session, meaning working closer to your maximal capacity, and spending a full week recovering from the session…

And yes, rowing of any kind will impact your lower back.


@flipcollar - Hi. Thanks for your advice. I had not realised that DL has a big impact. The reason is because of all the articles about higher frequency lifting I’ve read here on T Nation. There’s Dan Johns and his easy strength approach. And there’s even a daily DL on here somewhere. Low volume. High frequency.

Taking a step back, my general approach is to keep it simple and time effective. I’ve chosen to key lifts, a pull and a push. And then I’ve wrapped supportive work around it. So I’ve chosen to work my lower back these last couple of weeks with Romani DLs. Which now I’ve seen these comments is a really bad idea as I am further overloading my lower back


I have not seen this. I have seen daily squatting plenty of times, but never daily deadlifting. I would love to read the article.


If you like Dan John (I do as well), why not just run one of his programs, instead of creating your own? That would be smarter. I’ve done his 2 days a week program, because I also needed something very efficient, and it worked well for me. He has very good training philosophies. I’d say he and Wendler are the 2 most influential coaches on my training.



Check this one out. By Dan John. I like the simplicity. But I wonder if it will kill me!


I’ll just respectfully disagree with Dean Somerset that this would work for the majority of athletes, although it is worth noting that his programming has some thought put into it. I’m not sure yours does. What he wrote it is pretty different from what you programmed for yourself.

I like the Dan John article. That’s a solid template for success.


I didn’t realize kettlebell swings were now deadlifts…


You are not even close to the article.

And for the love of everything, stop combining programs and philosophies into one.

Damn people.


The daily deadlift article is merely to point out people are deadlifting more often than 3 times a week. Obviously mine does not look like the approach in the article.

There’s another on a website called StrongFirst which also features high frequency deadlifts. I think it was no more than a couple of sets a day by feel (or autoregulation as they seem to call it)


If you end up stuffing your back after a couple of weeks then by feel may not be for you.


@flipcollar so following the one lift a day approach by Dan John, presumably my routine could look like this?








What do you think?