T Nation

Low Back Getting Strained with Deadlifts


I have not had this issue before.. so perhaps my form has changed or I am finally hitting what is heavy for me. The video attached is one of my sets at 167.5kg which is a PR for me at 3x5. But I stopped at 4 reps because I was feeling the strain in lower back.
Any tips or form review would be appreciated.

This is the youtube link to the video-


I don’t see anything wrong with your form, though I’d like to see a frontal view. You could be pulling the bar a little too far from your body, but I can’t really see it from this angle. I was always taught to have the bar right above your midfoot when you start and every time you pull up.

I just strained my back the other day doing deadlifts as well, and mine was due to bad form and desperation to finish my reps. If you have any suggestions for me I’d gladly appreciate it. I posted my thread just before I read yours.


it looks like your low back is rounding right before you break the bar oof the floor. Are you doing 3x5 with same weight for all three sets? If so, personally, I would never program deadlifts this way. Try ramping up your work sets instead, like how the 5’s day is programmed in 5/3/1


I would wager you should spend some time focusing on your lower back extensors, in multiple rep ranges.


I agree that it looks like you are starting off in some lumbar flexion. If you are going to post a form video, it might be helpful to wear a very tight shirt, so that you positioning will be more apparent.

The most obvious form deficit that I notice, however, is how you are lowering the weight. You look like you are breaking your knees way too early, and then swinging the bar in front of your knees on the way down. Ideally, a deadlift should look the same on the way down as the way up, with a completely straight vertical bar path. Make sure you first break at the hips on the way down (keeping your spine neutral the the bar close to your body), then flex your knees after the bar has cleared them.

Finally, you may want to consider not using straps, and even going to a double overhand grip. Better to have your grip be the weak link than your back


Thanks for the tips and pointers.

Is there some specific exercise I can do for spinal erectors other than the deadlift itself?

If I did strict double overhand without straps… I would probably have to go down to 130… and rather hard to progress as well.

The thing is I had no lower back issues at all until very recently when I went through a phase of coaching where I was taught to lower slowly with a 4 count eccentric and that made lots of changes to my form etc.

I suppose the best thing is to drop the weight and work my way back up with more emphasis on form.


Back extensions or “hyperextensions”, bodyweight only. They have been the cure to my back issues and now I only get back pain after a long day or two in a row of jackhammering.

When I started after my last back “tweak” I could only do 2 sets of 8 (9 reps would trigger a massive spasm), now just over a year later I regularly do 2-4 sets of 25 (4 sets if only doing core once a week, 2 sets if doing core multiple times per week, depending what my splits are), about a 3 count to round out and touch the floor with my fingertips, 1 count to come up to a slightly hyperextended position.

I also do a hanging “toe touch” stretch at the end of most workouts to specifically loosen up my lower back.

In university, one of the things I recalled from my qualitative ergonomics class was that lower back muscular endurance and flexibility were both negatively correlated to back pain, so when I started to have severe back pain I took those two factoids to heart and implemented them into my routine.

Also correlated with back health is the ability to do a front plank for two minutes, so as a long term goal shoot for three minutes.
Side plank was also correlated with back health, so shoot for the same (again, as a long-term goal), 2-3 minutes.

It’s not entirely scientific as it’s based entirely on correlation, but the statistics say that if you have great muscular endurance in lumbar extension and the front and side plank, as well as at least average lumbar flexion flexibility, you have a very low probability of experiencing severe back pain.

PS - I assume you already know, but it is worth noting that it is also extremely important to keep your quads and hip flexors flexible in order to maintain proper pelvic tilt (and thus lower back health).