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Lower back position during deadlifts

I have been lifting over a year, but I am just learning the conventional deadlift. I’ve read King’s articles (and watched his video on the deadlift which is very good) but I had a question about lower back position. I had someone who has (at least some) training by Paul Chek watch me doing deadlifts and she said that just as it is important to keep the upper back straight during the deadlift, it is equally important to keep the normal lower back curve (lumbar lordosis) during the deadlift. This means rather then keeping the lower back straight, you stick your ass out and up (kinda–this is hard to describe). This does make some sense: just as keeping the upper back straight avoids concentrating the forces on the front/anterior portions of the vertebral bodies/vertebral disks, maintaining the normal lumbar lordosis does the same thing for the lower spine. Comments anyone?

Ok, let’s not make this overly complicated. Keep your lower back arched during the lift…it’s the #1 rule of the deadlift.

Yes, Paul Chek indeed has stated that to “maintain a lordosis in the initiation of the descent.” - and "lordosis"means like, a forward curvature of the spine. He recommends that the exerciser bends forward at the hip, like when you perform a Good Morning.

However, Ian King, Paul Chek and Dave Tate all are different in their descriptions of the dead. We have been been performing in accordance to Dave Tate's methods. I will be experimenting these next few weeks with Ian King's methods. But, as has been explained before, Tate's methods are with strength in mind and since we wanted to improve our dead poundages, that's the route we took.

I took part in a Paul Chek seminar, and what you say is pretty much one of Chek's mantra's during the seminar. I even have his "Scientific Back Training" book and videos. Yeah, yeah, some of you guys are probably rolling your eyes at that, but get this: it's pretty informative stuff.

In a perfect world, you would deadlift in the manner that you described. However, you will find that as the poundage rises that some spinal flexion will occur. Rather than trust my word on this subject, go to Dave Tate’s site ( elitefts.com ) and read all the deadlift and lower back training articles by he and Louie Simmons. Good luck in your new deadlifting career.

Thanks folks. Given my back (prior problems, now resolved) I’ll take maximum safety over maximum poundage, so I think I’ll try Chek’s way.

I love answering this question for the following reason - personal “real world” experience. I deadlift the Ian King way - straight lower back. Previous to this I had to stop performing the deadlift and was visiting my chiropractor once every 3 weeks. Once I incorporated Ian King’s approach to the deadlift my visits to the chiropractor stopped. I have not had to visit the the chiropractor for 3 years and I deadlift regularly (The Ian King way). Granted, there were other factors (flexibility and ab strength) involved but I feel the main one was learning the flat back method method of deadlifting. If I deadlift by sticking my butt out (and I have tried it) and maintaining an arch in my back I experience a “bad” type of soreness in my lower spine.

I agree with Joel. Keep the lower back arched and scapulae retracted, look upwards, drive your heels into the floor, and stand up with the bar. If your lower back hurts the next day, you probably did something wrong. For a long time I had trouble picking up on deadlifting form, then I took this simplified approach. All is well now:)

OK now I am confused. Anyone have similar experience to Al’s? Can anyone explain why the straight back would be less stress on the back? Al could it be Kings other ideas i.e. keeping the abs and glutes tight during the deadlift that has made the lift easier on your body?

IMO the deadlift with a straight lower back puts less stress on the spine/ligaments, etc because the spine is relatively straight. If you load the back/spine with the back curved and the neck curved (looking up while lifting) something is bound to get pinched or strained when lifting heavy. I’m not a personal training but this only makes sense to me. Think about it - if you are trying to keep a curve in your lower back and your neck/head is not in a neutral position you can overcompensate (curve the spine too much) when lifting heavy. It is impossible to over compensate a straight back and neutral neck/head position. Straight is straight

Keeping the abs and glutes tight during the deadlift is definitely a factor because it forces a straight lower back. This is how a pelvic tilt is performed. Stand sideways to a full length mirror and contract the abs and glutes. The pelvis tilts back which straightens the spine. Also, consider this - when curving the lower spine you tilt the pelvis forwards which lengthen the hamstrings. On the concentric movement of the deadlift you want to contract/shorten the hamstrings. As you can see I feel strongly about this because I have “lived” it.