Top Deadlifts!

I read an article by Ron Harris where he mentions top deadlifts as a back exercise. Charles Poliquin also mentioned this exercise, in an article in MM2k. Does anyone do these? I really want to use them for my back workout, but I seem to have trouble with the form. I bring the bar to just above my knees, but it feels awkward, and it’s IMPOSSIBLE for me to keep my back straight. Maybe I try to use too much weight, but when I go heavy, and round my back, I really feel it in the upper back, too. But I guess it’s bad to round my back? Also, I work my back after my hamstring workout, which includes straight leg deadlifts, and also hyperextensions. I am wondering if these exercises are burning out my lower back, so that it’s useless when I get to the top deadlifts? I have also thought about bringing the bar to the top of my quads, using the smith machine, and shortening the movement even more. Or should I just screw all of this, and do regular deadlifts on back day, even though it will subject my back to much less of a load? Thanks!

Unless you want an injury that will sideline you for a few months, I suggest you use caution. Do either stiff-legged DL (NOT staright legged. Leg should NEVER be 100% straight) or regular DL. No point in doing both. DL will let you handle more weight. SLDL is more of a hamstring/lower back exercise. If you’re doing 1 of these, there is no need for hyperextensions.
As for form, yes, back rounding is terrible. You’ll herniate a disc that way. Concentrate on keeping back flat/arched, and push your feet through the floor. Bar should graze up shins, and then shoot your hips forward when bar gets to thighs. DO NOT LEAN FORWARD.


What Greg said is right, but I’d like to add a couple of points.

One, if you’re using a weight that makes you strain at all, my experience has been that it’s pretty much impossible to keep your back absolutely flat. So a LITTLE rounding is to be expected. However, you should ALWAYS concentrate hard on keeping your back as flat as possible, and ALWAYS start the movement flat (or perhaps with a slight arch).

Two, depending on the relative lengths of your limbs and torso, you may HAVE to lean forward a bit to clear your knees - but again, this should be kept to an absolute minimum.

Three, either deads or SL deads in one workout is good advice. Hyperextensions, however... well, I think it depends on what kind of hyperextensions you're doing. If you're doing them for your lower back, then I agree with Greg. But if you're doing them (and your deads) for your hamstrings, then I don't see any problem with doing both in a given workout. In fact, I often do hypers before regular/SL deads as a method of preexhausting the hams.

Finally, the potential for a really debilitating injury is higher with deads than with most other exercises, and so you should get someone who knows what they’re doing to critique your form in person. (I’d offer to do it myself, but I’m in the wrong hemisphere… :frowning: )

first greg is correct
second sorry char-dawg but I do keep my back streight when doing deads (stiff or reg.)I’m not saying that you are wrong in your experience but I do not think most should except that their back will round, how does a novice know how much is too much (and yes I know you said find someone to teach it but we both know most never will)
third, how do you define load? if its just the amount of wt. then yea lockouts have a greater “load” but if we are talking about the amount of work that the erectors have to do then reg or stiffs will cause a greater “load”

Form tip: Keep the head UP when doing any type of hip movement (deads or squats), as the lower back tends to mimic what the upper back is doing. If you’re fatiguing the lower back by doing hypers first, then switch the order. There’s no need to do SLDL in the same w/o as regular deads. SLDL should be done on sqat day, after the squats. You may need to drop your deadlift weight for a while to dial in your form. Rounding of the back is NEVER acceptable in deads, unless you don’t like your back for some reason.

What?!?! I have no idea what a lot of your post means.

“I do not think most should except that their back will round”. WTF does this mean??

“third, how do you define load?” I don’t believe I mentioned load…

Hetyeh, I know several people who THINK they keep their backs staight while deadlifting, but none of them do. I know it FEELS like your back is straight (when you use good form, as you most likely do), but when you get up to a heavy enough weight and/or get tired enough, you inevitably round out a bit. Even world-class powerlifters do this. So if you really think that you have a perfectly straight back all the way through a max effort set, I suggest that you get someone to film your workout for you. You'll be in for a surprise.

And yes, most people who get advice like I gave Princess above won’t take it … but then most people don’t put multiple posts up on the T-Mag forum either. Seems to me that Princess is a tad more motivated than the typical gym rat, and interested in getting things right. Thus, I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time giving her advice. (Also, of course, I’m still hoping for some pictures of her doing arch-backed exercises…)

not sure what you mean by top deadlifts, but if they are partials, i wouldn’t reccommend them. you almost never pull from he proper position and the form is usually off. if you want to work the top part of the deadlift, use some bands from jump strecth, attach them to the top of the rack and hang the bar from the bands and add weight, that way you start lifting from the bottom in the proper groove and form and the bands assist you to get a heavier weight off the floor. when the bands stop assisting, you will have a heavier weight up in the groove.

yes, your back will round when you approach maximum weight, minimize it as much as possible. keep your chest up, not just your head. getting an arch will help keep it straighter.

If you guys are having trouble getting a feel for what an arched back feels like when doing hip extension type movements, then I would recommend that you do Russian Deadlifts. For those of you who don’t know what they are, the Russian Deadlift is nothing more than a stiff-leg deadlift with the weight on your back. The reason for me saying this is that in order to keep the bar on your back and off your neck, you need to roll the bar a little lower on the shoulders. The postion of the bar is the same as that of a low bar squat. The movement is just like a stiff leg deadlift, but the position of the bar forces you to pull the shoulder blades back and down. When this happens the back is forced into it’s natural arch and the chest will stick out. Use this to learn the feeling of a flat back and then move on the stiff leg deadlifts. Also, the head should stay in line with the spine for all hip dominant movements. You should neither look up nor look down. You should look like one of those plastic birds that drink water.

A couple more pointers: Your back should be at a 45 degree angle before you pull. If your butt is sticking up, you’ll never complete the lift. Don’t forget to retract your shoulder blades and tighten your glutes and abs before you launch the pull by pushing through the floor with your heels.

Hopefully I can cover everyone’s replies from in this message. I guess I’ll start with my workout routine. I am doing the ‘maximal weights’ program with stiff leg deadlifts, and then I do some hyperextensions. I am doing these as hamstring exercises. As for the SLDLs, I dropped my poundage, to concentrate on form, and I have been adding 5 lbs a week for the last few workouts. As far as I know, my back has stayed straight, so I would like to say my form is good with these. I haven’t been sticking my chest out at the top, nor using weight that causes me to go to failure. So, based on what you guys have said, I am thinking that I will attempt to target my back a little more, adjusting the two aforementioned factors, from the SLDLs. In the past, I have made no effort to hit my back with the SLDLs, but now I will try that. Also, as far as form, I find it a LOT harder to keep my back flat while doing regular, bent leg deadlifts, so I am thinking it will be a good idea to stay away from them, at least for a while. Does this sound good?

I did deads today and I acctualy did them faceing a corner so I could see my form and no I am sorry again but my bach stays flat (and I think there is a diff between flat and arched)!
the load comment was from the thread not about anything you said.
I was being nice because you spoke of your experience and I did not want to sound like I was disscounting your experience but you should NEVER round your back!!! peace