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Advice on Deadlift Starting Position?

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  • Advice on Deadlift Starting Position?

    Hello all,

    My name's Ellery and I'm new to these forums, but have been using BBM templates for about a year now, and have been training with a barbell for the last (nearly) two years. Being aware that's a pretty muddled topic, I wanted to ask anyone who has a few minutes to check a few of my recent deadlifting sets; specifically the level of lumbar extension that I can produce before breaking the bar off the floor. Regardless of body-weight, most people I see on the internet are capable of producing at least a small lordotic curve when fully braced and about to begin their pull. At the maximum amount of conscious extension I can get myself into (it seems more difficult with a belt), I don't see this same curve in myself. Youtube video with sets is linked below.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeN1M391BQM

    I've read that this curve is not necessarily indicative of a 'neutral spine', and I've listened to BBM lectures on the subject. I'm mostly curious as to whether or not other people on the forum have had success improving their lumbar flexibility/level of extension during the deadlift, and I'm interested in hearing recommendations for someone like me, who hopes to do just that. I should add that I don't almost ever feel pain from deadlift sessions, besides of course some stiffness and tightness after more prolonged sessions.

    Thanks for your time,

    E.




  • #2
    Have you ever tried deficit deadlifting? Id try that or pausing longer on the paused deadlifts, with the aim to keep them consistent.

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    • #3
      Ellery (love your username btw),

      Regardless of body-weight, most people I see on the internet are capable of producing at least a small lordotic curve when fully braced and about to begin their pull.
      While I assume most people are capable of producing a small lordotic curve while in their deadlift starting position, very few lifters I follow online or fellow amateur powerlifters I observe in the gym actually do. In my experience, I'd say more people with at least respectable deadlifts have virtually "neutral" backs, or even a small amount of flexion, if anything.

      I've read that this curve is not necessarily indicative of a 'neutral spine', and I've listened to BBM lectures on the subject. I'm mostly curious as to whether or not other people on the forum have had success improving their lumbar flexibility/level of extension during the deadlift, and I'm interested in hearing recommendations for someone like me, who hopes to do just that. I should add that I don't almost ever feel pain from deadlift sessions, besides of course some stiffness and tightness after more prolonged sessions.
      If you understand that the visual appearance of lumbar extension is not indicative of a "neutral" spine, nor is it necessarily indicative of decreased injury risk or increased movement efficiency, why do you want to achieve more lumbar extension? For what it's worth, the deadlifts in your video all look solid from a technique standpoint. Your back is locked in tight throughout the movement and looks pretty "neutral" to me. You also have a fairly efficient, consistent bar path from the floor to lockout. Other than the last 360x1, they all look fairly easy too (like RPE 7 or less).

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      • #4

        Thanks to both of you for looking and responding; I appreciate it! LuzTheBuz the only deadlift variations I've used consistently are paused deadlifts (I'll work on intentionally pausing longer, my notion of time always seems a little condensed when I'm in the middle of a set) and Romanian deadlifts. I've stayed away from deficit deadlifts generally because of doubt regarding my setup for a conventional deadlift. Maybe that's not the right approach, though.

        Re Nate: It's pretty encouraging to read your notes on the lifts. I started training with a beat up rack with a barbell and some old plates that a couple friends and I bought second-hand when COVID started. Living on a small island, I've seen maybe one or two other people deadlifting in the local gym. It all means my exposure to real people who do this (rather than Youtubers or online personalities) is pretty minimal. This forum seemed like a good place to post a few sets and compare my assessments with others. So, I'm glad to have your feedback.

        Regarding the lumbar extension question, it seems like we should strive for greater flexibility in general, and it's easy to worry about losing flexibility to tight muscles. If deadlifting regularly runs the risk of tightening the posterior chain muscles (chiefly hamstrings, glutei, erectors, et cetera) , I wonder what people's recommendations are for staying flexible. What should we prioritize in training? Static stretching after a session? Variations with longer ranges of motion? My assumption is that someone's lumbar flexibility (in general a good thing to have?) would be demonstrated in their lordotic curve when properly braced. So achieving such a curvature seems like it might be indicative of more flexibility, which is desired, hence the want to become more flexible. Thanks again.

        - E.

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        • #5
          Ellery,

          I have to say, given your relatively short training age and the fact that you're basically self taught, you have very solid deadlift technique. Keep up the good work.

          Regarding the lumbar extension question, it seems like we should strive for greater flexibility in general, and it's easy to worry about losing flexibility to tight muscles. If deadlifting regularly runs the risk of tightening the posterior chain muscles (chiefly hamstrings, glutei, erectors, et cetera) , I wonder what people's recommendations are for staying flexible.
          "Citation needed" on the claim that deadlifting tightens your muscles and decreases flexibility. As far as I know, current research actually says the opposite, which makes sense if you think about it. I suppose if you pack on enough mass the sheer size of your muscles would affect your ability to get into certain positions, but I don't think most natural trainees need to worry about that (at least not after just two years of lifting). Anecdotally, I've been barbell training and deadlifting for nearly 7 years and I can touch my toes just as easily as I could before I started lifting, and I don't do any stretching.

          My assumption is that someone's lumbar flexibility (in general a good thing to have?) would be demonstrated in their lordotic curve when properly braced. So achieving such a curvature seems like it might be indicative of more flexibility, which is desired, hence the want to become more flexible.
          Not really, no. I think forcing yourself into terminal, end range lumbar extension would be a rather inefficient way to deadlift, actually.

          Why/for what goal are you concerned with this? Just based off of your deadlift videos, it is clear to me that you are able bodied and flexible enough to perform the main barbell lifts and their variations. I assume that with your current level of flexibility, you are able to get through your daily life without any issues as well. Seems like much ado about nothing.

          If you have other goals/reasons for wanting to improve your flexibility beyond, say, the ability to get into position for a deadlift, I don't think deadlifting would be a particularly productive way to achieve that. You would likely need different training that would be more specific to that goal. I assume there are regimens out there for yoga, gymnastics, etc. that would help with this, but I don't have any knowledge or interest in that subject, so I wouldn't be of much help.

          This doesn't relate to your question completely, but you may find this article interesting.

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          • #6
            Thanks for your anecdotes and reassurances, and for linking that article. They've all been helpful.

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