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Ok. So tonight I deadlifted for the first time in a while. I ended with 205 lb x 4 reps. Not bad for weight, but I feel like I was doing them incorrectly. I never did them consistently mainly because I didn't think my form was right. I've spent hours reading up on them and watching videos, but I still feel like I'm not doing them correctly.

 

I perform Romanian Deadlifts perfectly (at least I think so, as I feel them in my hamstrings and my lower back is never sore), but for some reason I can't get the hang of the deadlift. I can also squat below parallel with ease. But when deadlifting I just feel like my lower back is on fire.

 

I am really thinking of just not doing them, as I get plenty of low back work from hyper extensions, and I am really scared of the consequences of doing them incorrectly. I've also had some lower back issues in the past. I think I'm going to lay off them for a while until I can either find an experienced lifting partner to watch my form or have enough money to hire a trainer with the proper background.

 

I would like to do them, but not without supervision.

 

Has anyone experienced this? Do you think I am over-reacting? My physique is progressing quite nicely without them, as I am currently dropping fat and getting stronger, so I'm not sure they are even necessary at my relative beginner stage in my recent workout history. I've only been working out for about 2 -3 months now, since a long layoff.

 

Any input would be appreciated. Oh, and just so you know, my goals are more related to bodybuilding/looking good nekkid, than powerlifting.

 

Thanks,

Andrew

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Hilary is spot-on - as much as it'd be nice to try and diagnose your deadlift issues, without a video clip from the side (front as well if you can manage) it's too difficult to give any pertinent advice as we'd only be guessing.

 

A few things to remember about deadlifting -

 

Like squatting, everyone has different body mechanics, so not everyone will deadlift the same. There are some no-nos in doing deadlifts that you want to avoid that are across the board (butt coming up too quickly, jerking the bar instead of a smooth pull, hitching [the jerky motion that people do when they struggle to lock out the rep at top] and other things), but form-wise, there's not really a "right" way that you need to deadlift. Here are a few clips of different styles:

 

- Semi-wide conventional stance -

 

- Normal-width conventional stance -

and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whlXUrvih1w

 

- Normal-width conventional stance with upper back rounding (UPPER back can round a bit, lower back, definitely not good!) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaFr6WPgjfw This one's for those who are pretty advanced and have learned their body mechanics well. Safe, but not a style to emulate until you're a few years deep and can stand to experiment with different forms that might improve the lift

 

- Semi-wide duck-footed stance where toes point outward considerably -

 

- Sumo-style deadlift - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aw9yhC9cqU which is more of a squat from the ground up than a conventional deadlift, but it counts in powerlifting

 

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to deadlift. It all comes down to your body mechanics and what feels most comfortable for the lift without sacrificing proper form. People with longer arms and shorter legs will have to use different form than someone with the opposite situation. Basically, the taller you are, the more distance the bar has to travel, so the deadlift is one lift where being short is a distinct advantage for most people. Even simple things like moving your feet out a bit can change the feel of the lift - I usually deadlift with a pretty narrow stance (feet about 14-16" apart), and when I widen my stance by a few inches, I can feel the change from lower back being the main mover to my hamstrings taking over a bit, so even small things can really affect how your deadlift will feel and perform.

 

I'd say, if you can, your best bet is to drop the weight for a few months and just hammer proper form down until you find what's comfortable for you to crank out 12+ reps for a few sets before really starting to add much weight. If you're still relatively new to deadlifting, that would explain why your lower back is pretty sore - if I have a layoff, the first few sessions for deadlifts always make my lower back really sore for about 2 days afterward, but after a few consistent weeks it always seems to be back to normal where I'm fine by the next day. You have to be able to identify soreness with lower back just like anything else - is it "I lifted heavy and now I've got DOMS for a few days" sore, or the kind where you feel something is wrong? If you ever suspect that your back isn't feeling sore in the good way, then there's definitely something that needs to be tweaked with your form. Listen to your body, and by all means, if you can get some videos of your form, please post them here and we'll be happy to take a look and see how things are going.

 

So long as you're safe, past lower back problems may not ever be a concern. My lower back ain't in the best shape after some unfortunate injuries a few years back, but in taking my time coming back I've got my dealift near to where I'd hoped I'd end up this year. Just take your time, work on form that is comfortable, and listen to your body!

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Thanks Hilary and Ryan! I will try to get a video. We'll see how embarrassed my girlfriend will be when she has to stand in the Boston Sports Club videotaping me deadlifting!

 

I was thinking about it more last night, after I posted, and decided to keep doing them, but with light weight for reps after my heavy squats. That way I'm nice and loose already, and I can get my form down and a decent workout in without worrying about weight.

 

My back pain is pretty much just regular soreness and DOMs. Definitely nothing to worry about at this point. I've deadlifted over 315 before with "bad form", so in grand scheme of things, last night was pretty light.

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I personally have never worn a belt while deadlifting. I never found belts to be comfortable, so I've just never bothered with one. On occasion I will wear a Rehband back support/warmer (www.jackalsgym.com sells them) which will keep the lower back warm and offer just a tiny bit of support, but it's nothing like wearing a belt as far as the tightness or overall support it gives (and, I usually only wear it during heavy squats and rarely, if ever, on deadlifts). I've always been mixed on the belt issue, but I think that they're okay to use so long as someone doesn't become dependant on them for all of their sets. I'd pretty well focus on wearing one only for doing sets where you're at 85% or above for your 1 rep max, that way you'll still be building your lower back as much as possible during the bulk of your deadlifting but can have that extra support for your heavy sets.

 

Definitely try to get a video, and when you do, post it and we'll let you know if we see anything that could use a bit of fixing!

 

Oh. I forgot to ask. Do you guys always wear a belt when doing them? Last night I didn't use one at all, but I have in the past for the heavier sets. I'm not sure it helps at all though.

 

Thanks.

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Good article from Rippetoe: http://www.crossfit.com/journal/library/51-2006_AnalysisofDeadlift.pdf

 

One cue that helps for me is to drive the knees forward before starting the lift. It brings the hips a bit lower and closer to the bar I think. It contradicts some other advice that I've read, but when thinking about having my shoulders behind the bar and weight on the heels and so on I found my pop off the floor was poor.

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Good article from Rippetoe: http://www.crossfit.com/journal/library/51-2006_AnalysisofDeadlift.pdf

 

One cue that helps for me is to drive the knees forward before starting the lift. It brings the hips a bit lower and closer to the bar I think. It contradicts some other advice that I've read, but when thinking about having my shoulders behind the bar and weight on the heels and so on I found my pop off the floor was poor.

 

Thanks El Flaco. That was a great article. I'm about to go deadlift now and take a video. I'll post it here either tonight or tomorrow.

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Thanks VE. I'll have them up here by this weekend. Right now I have 3 short vids from both sides (slightly diff angles) and the front. They are about 3 MB each and they are oriented at a 90 deg. angle to how they should be viewed. I can rotate them with a video editor called avi demux for linux, but I can't seem to find an output format that works right with any player other than VLC. I have a busy week but will get them up as soon as possible. I don't particularly want to put them on youtube, so once I can rotate and shrink them so they play on Windows and Macs I will upload them.

 

Thanks for waiting

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I deadlifted for the first time in my life yesterday (I've done straight deadlifts before but this was the real thing). The pull movement went nicely, I did 100 kg for about 12 reps, but I was kind of confused what to do on the negative part of the excersise. I ended up doing the negative part as I would do if it was straight deadlifts (knees slightly bent and just bending down or something). Most videos show people lifting one time and then just dropping the weight, is that the only way to do it or is there a technique on how to do it? Please share because I really loved the excersise, I acctually dreamt about it last night and it was sweet.

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Basically you want to lower the bar on a deadlift under control but quickly enough that the negative isn't taking much out of you. The idea is to lower it in pretty much exactly reverse of raising it. How that works for me is I unlock my knees a little bit, lower the bar to about knee level by hinging at the hips, then keep my back angle (relative to the ground) constant and lower the bar the rest of the way to the floor by bending the knees.

 

Hopefully that makes sense, having trouble finding a video for an example.

 

Edit: This video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqxim0YXr90 is worth a look - the only real mention of lowering the bar that I noticed is at 2:20, but it should help you see what I'm talking about.

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I deadlifted for the first time in my life yesterday (I've done straight deadlifts before but this was the real thing). The pull movement went nicely, I did 100 kg for about 12 reps, but I was kind of confused what to do on the negative part of the excersise. I ended up doing the negative part as I would do if it was straight deadlifts (knees slightly bent and just bending down or something). Most videos show people lifting one time and then just dropping the weight, is that the only way to do it or is there a technique on how to do it? Please share because I really loved the excersise, I acctually dreamt about it last night and it was sweet.

 

Johan,

This puzzled me at first also.

From what I've read, and what seems to work the best for me, is to lower like you are doing a straight legged /romainian DL till you get below the knee, then kind of squat down the opposite of how you lift off when coming up. That way the knees don't get in the way on the descent.

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From a few views, I can't find anything that's particularly wrong with your form - matter of fact, it's better than almost everyone I see deadlifting, so cheers to you for that.

 

The only other thing that may be somewhat helpful is this - if you do lift heavier again soon, please tape a few side shots of that as well. The one thing is that, while form may be spot-on with a lighter weight, once you get heaver that's when it tends to break down a bit, so if you get a clip of yourself doing something like the 225x4 again, that would help a lot. Being able to compare a very light weight with one that's a bit of a struggle will show if you have any weak spots. Once you get going heaver, there are two main areas that most people struggle with, the first being to the knee, the other being from the knee to lockout. Usually it is easiest to diagnose if one area is problematic with a heavier weight, but for now, your form with a light weight looks pretty darn good, so keep up the good work!

 

Oh yeah, regarding the descent, most people who deadlift heavy do a fast lowering simply because there isn't a whole lot of benefit gained from a slow descent to the floor. In competition, the lift is only required to be lowerd "under control", which basically just says that you have to keep your hands on the bar until it hits the ground. Even on heavy sets, I don't usually dump it quickly, but I do a pretty fast descent leaning forward a bit, then I just re-set my hips low at the start of the next rep and rip it on up again. It's pretty near impossible to re-set perfectly every time without some adjustment, so it's perfectly fine to have to roll the bar back an inch or two or re-set your hips by lowering your butt on each new rep if necessary. Just lower the bar somewhat quickly to preserve your lower back, get into position again, and repeat as necessary

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