T Nation

Rounded Back Deadlifts



Alright, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way. I somewhat pulled/strained my abductors/hamstrings(I’m not very sure exactly what it is but it definitely hurts) before I went for training today, I was basically limping the whole day, even during training. As such I decided to pull conventional instead of my usual sumo and I couldn’t pull my hips as low as how I would usually start. It ended up looking like this.

The funny thing is, the deadlifts actually felt easier compared to how I pulled (conventional) previously. I understand that there is a time and place for rounded back deadlifts. ( https://www.t-nation.com/training/strong-case-for-the-rounded-back-deadlift ) I would like to have some feedback on the way I’m pulling and perhaps hear some of your experiences since y’all be way more experienced than me.

It seems to me that the form is still fairly acceptable despite it being not “textbook form”, it seems to work for me so far. I don’t see/feel any rounding of the lower back, perhaps I’m wrong, feedback would be greatly appreciated.


I pulled with an extremely rounded back for about 2 years, and worked up to a 535 or so max doing so. However, one day I decided that heavy deficit snatch grip deadlifts in olympic shoes would be the greatest assistance exercise ever, and I injured my back.
It won’t hurt till it hurts. What feels comfortable at some weights may feel not so great at maximum loads.
Lots of successful people pull with some rounding, especially in the upper back. If you’d like to start pulling this way, I would recommend easing into it, pulling lots of volume with lower loads in your new stance. Other than that, it’s about your goals. Why do you care about deadlifting?


Well, the main goal is to get a bigger deadlift, the secondary goal is just to get stronger overall and look awesome naked.


I’d work on fixing that if I were you dude. You’re rounding the middle/lower back rather than the upper back. My understanding is that upper back rounding is fine, middle and lower back not so much.

If I was going to pick three cues to fix it:

  1. Point your ribs at the floor - that’ll get your back straighter.
  2. Bend the bar around your shins - that’ll tighten your lats.
  3. Drag the bar up your legs. Take the skin off - that’ll keep your hips lower at the start and keep your shoulders behind the bar.

They should apply to both styles.

IF you want to round your upper back, tuck your chin hard. That works for me combined with the bending the bar.


Why the bigger deadlift though? Impress others, be more competitive in meets, improve on yourself, etc.

If your goal is do do better in powerlifting meets, than find a form variation that allows you to lift maximally without injury. This form may or may not do that for you. It doesn’t look horrible, but it does look like a maximal load would cause extensive breakdown. I’d work a lot on bracing techniques and really locking your trunk in place.

If your goal is to improve yourself, than I would consider reworking your form. Find a variation that you can pull frequently without discomfort and hammer it until you become more proficient. The more often you can do something, the better chance you have at becoming successful. And if self improvement is the goal, your numbers in relation to other lifters’ numbers are irrelevant.

If your goal is to impress others, I don’t have much feedback other than don’t hurt yourself.


Thanks for the advice Mark, I’ll give it a go the next time I deadlift.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I would say a fair bit of all 3. Like come on, who doesn’t want an impressive deadlift, a kick ass total AND improve on themselves at the same time. But, if I had to pick one, it would probably be self improvement. That being said, no one likes being the runt of the group, its pretty insane what the people around me (of similar age) are lifting.


I’ve found very little attention from having a decent deadlift. I suffer from “medium fish, small pond” scenario where I currently train, but no one ever asks what I deadlift. It’s bench primarily, or how many pull ups or push ups I could do. If the goal is impressing others I’d pick a different lift.