Lower Lumbar Aching with Higher Rep Squats and Deadlifts

I’m not finding any solid answers and I’d like to request input from the community about a specific issue.

Note - I’ve been following T-Nation for some time but have not tapped into the community’s knowledge base until now. I expect to contribute what little first-hand experience I have going forward in support of others.

Now, the question.

When doing squats for higher reps, or deadlift for higher reps, I get a “feeling” in my lower lumbar on either side of my spine that feels more like an aching than pain or soreness.

Honestly, it feels like I got kicked in the crotch, except it’s in my lower back.

I am of the initial opinion that my form breaks down at the higher rep ranges, but being honest, there is no one in my gym that I’d expect to get good coaching from. It’s a small time place with chosen few big lifters to liaise with.

When this happens, the only remedy is to take all the weight off my back, including standing or sitting. I literally have to lie down until it passes.

I think it is a weakness in my core strength being compensated for in my back, but I’m not sure. I was hoping there might be something glaring that I’m missing. I understand this is hard to diagnose without seeing my form in person, so I’m pretty much hoping that someone has experienced a similar odd aching feeling to me and corrected it in some way.

Just for reference, I’m weighing about 166 lbs these days, height of 5’9". My 2-3 rep squat max (low bar) is 325, deadlift is 435. I do not use a belt for either lift, so that may be a factor.

Thank you again for your time, and I appreciate your input. Cheers!

brace your abs harder

That sounds like a lower back pump.

They’re awesome. It’s like there’s a party in your lower back and everyone is throwing up.

Form breakdown is part of that, yeah (you end up flexing your lower back during the movement rather than keeping it stable), but it’s also part of performing high rep squats and deads. Laying down is helpful to get it to pass. You’ll want to elevate your feet above your torso. Also, for some reason, whenever I get in a GHR and set-up at the top, it helps the back pump go away.

Honestly though, the best solution I found was to save my high rep work for the end of my workout, go as hard as I can, and then crawl out from the rack and lay down and die for a while.

A GHR? I’m not familiar with the acronym…

I hope a combination of focusing more on bracing my core (a belt will give my abdominal wall something to push against) and elevating my feet as you suggested will alleviate the symptoms.

It’s the strangest thing. It isn’t “pain”, and I don’t feel any lingering pain the day after or even a few hours after. But you’re right, it’s like a lower lumbar overload. Thank you both for your input!

Glute ham raise.

My post must be at least 20 characters long.

Gotcha, thanks again!

Weakness for you. You need a stronger low back, which includes your whole core.

Not quite the same issue pwnsher deals with, ala back pump. Similar competencies though.

Possibly excessive buttwink from squatting? I used to get a similar feeling until I sorted my buttwink issues out.

Definitely a vote for the GHR for this. Also, before descending in the squat squeeze your glutes hard and keep squeezing them as you descend. It’ll feel weird as hell at first but you get better at it and it helped me heaps.

I think I understand but I’d like to clarify, you’re stating that my core is in-fact weak, causing the compensation or strain on the lower lumbar?

I incorporated GHRs into today’s lift to see how they felt. Good call on those. Have one more hypertrophy day for legs tomorrow then heavy sets for a week. I’ll have a good bit of new techniques to incorporate, thanks everyone for their input !