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Deadlift Form - What Gives?

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  • Deadlift Form - What Gives?

    (I think I might have posted in the wrong forum, so the abbreviated version will have to do)

    Basics: Encountering a serious issue keeping the lower back from rounding on the conventional deadlift. Cues like "chest up" and following Thrall and Baraki's advice on the setup and execution still result in a rounded lower back and slumped shoulders.

    Even when working the lift in reverse I can't keep the lower back neutral past my knees - "squatting" the weight down results in the same thing as starting from the floor.

    What am I missing? When I try "chest up" it seems like all I can do is look up and sink my hips lower than they should be. And when going in reverse, it feels like I have to release tension to let the bar rest on the floor - otherwise it stops maybe 4-5 inches from the floor. It's been driving me nuts and basically keeps me from doing deads regularly now because I don't want to do it with such poor form.

  • #2
    I had the same issue for a long time. I switched to sumo for a while, and continued trying to keep the back flat everytime I DLed. Eventually it got better, and recently when I tried conventional again, I managed to keep my back ok and found out I was stanting too close from the bar before.

    No guarantee that you are facing the same problems I did prior, but maybe standing futher from the bar could help you. Or simply a time away from the pattern (while doing sumo) would help. Or even one of the hundred clues that exist could help you (elbows in, shoulder bladed pinched together, shoulders back...)

    I know this is really frustrating, but unless you are able to see a reliable coach in person, I'm afraid you'll have to try different things and see what helps you.
    Me gainzz

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    • #3
      Without trying to sound like the "I've tried everything and nothing works" guy I've tried a lot of cues and alternative setups except sumo, which I might work on (and probably should).

      I've done some reading where a possible issue is tight hamstrings, and the lack of stretch would cause a similar situation, but even with stretching the problem persists. Agreed on the frustrated part - it's been a real buzzkill not being able to do one of the big 3. I've seen SOME progress trying to do the lift in reverse, and I'm hoping that it's simply a lack of mobility somewhere that will eventually work itself out. Thanks for the info, though and that I'm not the first person to have this to deal with. If I can get a decent video made I can try to post it somewhere for critique and maybe someone will see something I don't.

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      • #4
        Decrease the weight to one where you can keep your lower back in proper position and work up from there. You can also do rack pulls or block pulls from a height that you can keep your back in position and work your way down, again with good form.

        Cues won’t help if the weight is too damn heavy.
        Last edited by Jeff Dausch; 09-23-2018, 01:13 AM.

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        • t_angeiras
          t_angeiras commented
          Editing a comment
          Yeah, I think block pulls helped me a lot, also.

      • #5
        If there is no "productive" weight you can pull conventional with a flat back at, I would widen your stance to wide stance conventional, semi sumo or sumo.

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        • #6
          What's your bracing like D?

          If by "chest up" you mean that you are pulling the rib cage up (and away from the pelvis) it's wrong. I never liked "chest up" as a cue for this reason and that it tends to get the lifter's shoulders behind the bar too soon.

          Instead think about keeping the ribs tethered to the pelvis throughout the lift (anterior bracing). Then, "squeeze the spine straight" towards the ribs (again, do not lift the ribs) by bracing the obliques and spinal erectors as hard as you can. As long as my hips are in the right place, I naturally get "heavy in the hands" at this point without thinking about it. The most important part is to maintain this bracing as you push the floor away. I never understood how to "push" until I understood bracing in this way. Previously, it felt like I was just peeling the weight off of the floor.

          Hope this helps. Stick with it.

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          • #7
            When I cue "chest up" I think of a tether on my chest pulling it up. Doing this while standing up I can feel my chest rise and my lower back tighten. But once I'm in the starting position that connection seems to disappear and instead my head just tilts up and hips sink. The "heavy in hands" works well as I can feel the tension and how uncomfortable a proper starting position should be - but again, we're stuck with a rounded lower back if I'm using the 5 step setup plan.

            However I do have some news as when I tried the lift in reverse with an empty bar, I noticed a ton of tightness in my hams, and while lowering the bar very slowly past my knees I could feel them not wanting to stretch and my back starting to round to compensate. I'm hoping that this means I've got tight or undertrained hamstrings and that I have something to work with for the next couple weeks. Thank you all again for the info, as it seems to make more sense than what a Google search can yield or what browsing through every DL YouTube video has given me so far.

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            • #8
              Originally posted by DGosnell23 View Post
              However I do have some news as when I tried the lift in reverse with an empty bar, I noticed a ton of tightness in my hams, and while lowering the bar very slowly past my knees I could feel them not wanting to stretch and my back starting to round to compensate. I'm hoping that this means I've got tight or undertrained hamstrings and that I have something to work with for the next couple weeks. Thank you all again for the info, as it seems to make more sense than what a Google search can yield or what browsing through every DL YouTube video has given me so far.
              I would guess this “cause” is highly unlikely and wasting weeks doing hamstring mobility and “corrective” exercises would be a waste of valuable training time. Sounds like you just have poor proprioception when it comes to your low back position and need to work on it.

              Again, as in my post above, working from a higher bar position where you can assume the correct low back positioning and working down from there would be your best bet. Especially since you can’t get into position at the start of your pull.

              Also, what happens with an empty bar does not necessarily correlate to form on a work set.

              Heres a vid from Uncle Rip that may help. https://youtu.be/aXfOdvd-sJ0





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              • #9
                Post a vid for us, might be helpful in giving you feedback.

                Also, have you tried deadlifting in a belt? Just curious. For me, it really provides a lot of tactile feedback for what my back is doing.

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                • #10
                  Alright so an update: After taking a week off training and doing some work with an empty bar I believe I've found my issue - and I'm embarrassed to say it but I have not been putting my knees OUT when going down to the bar. During one of my practice sessions I simply locked my lower back (with help from the Rip video posted) and let anything else move to get me to the bar. Knees went out like they always do in the squat and guess what: I got a grip on the bar and kept my lumbar spine relatively neutral. I've since been training with much lower weight this past week and I'm happy to say that I've been making progress again (albeit lower weights but form over ego).

                  I want to thank everyone who posted tips and video, and for the BBM crew for having tons of training log vids I could study. Now let's get back to 315 without heading to Snap City.

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