Deadlift form check

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pdellorto
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Deadlift form check

Post by pdellorto » Mon Feb 18, 2008 8:23 am

Guys,

I posted about this over on Strengthmill, in the Coach's Q&A forum, for Mark Rippetoe to look at. But I'm looking for your feedback as well. My deadlift has gotten kind of sucky again...I'm not sure if it's fatigue or what, but I can't seem to keep my back from rounding as I go up in weight.

Here is me doing 1 x 120kg
http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/ ... 018900.flv

Here I am doing 5 x 90kg a set later, just for a form check:
http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/ ... 128341.flv

I'm trying hard to keep my back flat, but it just rounds out - especially that 120kg but also the end of the 5 x 90kg set. These should be doable for me - not too long ago I did 3 x 132.5kg, and I got a lot of good hands-on deadlift coaching back in NJ over Christmas break. I'm not sure how I crept back to badness.

Thanks,

Peter


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Re: Deadlift form check

Post by daniel4738 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:22 am

pdellorto wrote:Guys,

I posted about this over on Strengthmill, in the Coach's Q&A forum, for Mark Rippetoe to look at. But I'm looking for your feedback as well. My deadlift has gotten kind of sucky again...I'm not sure if it's fatigue or what, but I can't seem to keep my back from rounding as I go up in weight.

Here is me doing 1 x 120kg
http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/ ... 018900.flv

Here I am doing 5 x 90kg a set later, just for a form check:
http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/ ... 128341.flv

I'm trying hard to keep my back flat, but it just rounds out - especially that 120kg but also the end of the 5 x 90kg set. These should be doable for me - not too long ago I did 3 x 132.5kg, and I got a lot of good hands-on deadlift coaching back in NJ over Christmas break. I'm not sure how I crept back to badness.

Thanks,

Peter
I am no expert, but it seems as if your legs are a little too straight. It seems as if you are trying to lift from your back as opposed to your legs first of all.

I would suspect if you were to start off with the weights on a platform, you would produce better form.

Maybe try bending your legs a little more and bringing your shoulders more over the bar.

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Post by stuward » Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:53 am

Peter, I can't see your videos so I may be wrong here but I think you have the same problem that I have. A weak lower back.

I did 5x265# this morning and my back rounded some on reps 3&4. For rep 5 I just concentrated on keeping my lower back tight and I had no problem. Part of it is concentrating on breaking the bar of the floor with my glutes and then pushing up with the legs.

I had a similar issue earlier in the workout with front squats. On my final set I could feel myself going forward as I started pushing up and I caught myself by pausing on the way up, pushing back on the bar and then finishing the leg push. Subsequent reps were actually easier once I ignored my legs and started focussing on my glutes and lower back.

Stu

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Post by KPj » Mon Feb 18, 2008 1:44 pm

Firstly - good to see someone DLing bear foot!

Things that stood out to me were...

-Rounded lower back, gets worse as the lift is initiated, too. This can be weak core and/or lower body, but most likely, you need get your hips more mobile.

-I think you need to sit back more in starting position i.e. get your shoulder closer to over the top of the bar as they look to far in front of it, this will improve your chest position, too, and also shift your weight more onto your heels.

-It looks to me like you don't quite lock out (stopping short) properly which can also be a sign of tight, overactive hips, and weak glutes (as per your starting position). Hump the bar, but make sure to finish with the glutes and retract and depress your shoulder blades, almost as if your exaggerating the top of the movement :-)

-On the way down from the top position, break from the hips / push your hips back and don't bend your knees until the bar passes them (watch the path of the bar in the clips and the point at which your knee bends) - Learning this may improve your starting position as you need to get down to the bar in the same way - Hips back, chest up, arms straight / taut and then bend at the knees.

-To help with the lower back rounding. Make sure you have a big belly full of air when you start the lift.

-And in general remember to BLAST through the heels.

If it's definitely your hips that need mobilised, you should restrict the ROM whilst making it a priority to loosen them up. For example, rack pulls from knee caps, mid shin, or as far down as your back position will allow. you could try Sumo style, which restricts the Rom by a few inches. Use Magnificent Mobility to loosen up the hips and static stretch the hip flexors as well.


Hope that helps, it's a little rushed so I hope it doesn't sound TOO critical.


KPj

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Post by Onlyethic » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:21 pm

I'll say outright that I'm still learning the DL. However, I feel like your lift looks a lot like mine did a month or so ago when a trainer at the gym I'm at pointed out my rounding lower back. (I was first annoyed by his comments but after talking with him for 10 minutes realized he knew what he was talking about).

I'd sit farther back (someone suggested this already). To do this, you might want to loosen up the hip and groin area by doing some full air squats. I've also found that doing what Craig Weller calls the "Third World Squat" has helped a lot: http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1856085&cr=.

But basically it looks like you're lifting with your back, as I was doing. To combat this, I use lower weight than I was using, keep my back really tight and make sure that I stand up first, before I straighten the back.

I also found that doing goblet squats in profile to a mirror helps a lot to watch that point where the curve in the lower back flops out and makes a round back. The goblet squats, in addition to letting you watching yourself in a mirror once every few reps, force you to dip your hips into the motion and lead out of it with your glutes (while keeping a tight, upright back). Has helped with DL form.

Nice setup you got there, btw. Laundry and lifting-- the essentials.


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Post by hoosegow » Mon Feb 18, 2008 4:33 pm

Yup, Ditto. Drop your ass, lock your back and scrape your shins. Look where the ceiling and wall meet when you start your lift.

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Post by pdellorto » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:30 pm

Thanks guys!

Reading the replies, I realize I'd dropped an important cue I learned when I got coaching. I'm getting my hips up and my scapulae over the bar, but I'm not keeping my weight back. I'd gotten to feeling like the bar was keeping me from falling over backwards, and then pulling. As you guys say, I need to get my ass back more.

KPj - when you say BLAST, I'm not sure what you mean. I've learned to squeeze the bar off the ground, pushing with my heels. I'm concerned if I think "blast" I'm going to pull hard with my back and I try to come up quickly, instead of push strongly but steadily down.

I'm certainly lifting too much from my back. What's annoying is that I know I can lift more - I did 5 x 110 a couple weeks ago and it was smooth as silk, but those 5 x 90 were hard because my form was sucking.

I'll do more squats to warm up before I do my RDLs and warmup DLs. I've seen that third world squat article before. I actually sit that way pretty often, mimicking my students here in Japan. It's easy and comfortable, and it makes super-deep air squats easy. But put a bar in my hands and I do weird thing. :)

And yeah, have to lift barefoot. No shoes in the gym. Not much heat, either. It was about 40 degrees F when I was doing those DLs. :D
That isn't laundry, by the way, those are cleaning rags for the wrestling mats.

Since I'm always talking about my cramped gym and its tiny equipment selection, this is where I lift. That rack's top supports are shorter than me. If I step back too far on a reverse lunge I smack my head on it.
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/ ... to253s.jpg
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/ ... to255s.jpg
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/ ... to262s.jpg

And yeah, that's a bucket of hot coals for heat.
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/ ... to256s.jpg
Needless to say I move the bucket around during my workout.

Again, thanks for the advice. I'm sure Mark Rippetoe will have some choice words for my back rounding and my neck position if he answers my post. It's all for the best in the long run but I'm anticipating some pain when I read it. :D

Peter

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Post by KPj » Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:24 am

KPj - when you say BLAST, I'm not sure what you mean.
I mean in an explosive way. Getting the bar off the floor is the part where explosive strength, or, Rate of Force Development is most crucial. What that really means is being able to create as much force as possible in as little time as possible. So in practice, your in position, you have a belly full of air / tight core, chest up, hips in position, and you lift the bar as fast and as hard as you possibly can, but driving through the heels. I'm sure i've read it being described as 'cork screwing your heels in to the floor', which is a good image, lol, not strictly true as you shouldn't rotate at all in the lift, but it gets the point across.

This is the weakest part of the lift for me, most likely because it wasn't that long ago that I didn't have the flexibility to pull from the floor. Doing speed lifts works wonders in that respect (getting it off the floor, M2 fixed my hips!), as does Box squats, heavy or 'speed weight'.

It is probably best to get your back position fine tuned though before thinking about it - even if you DL with the bar elevated on weight discs, enough for you to get a good back position, then work on you form, whilst mobilising your hips and gradually moving back down to the floor - things will come good quite quickly if you make it a focus. Speed deadlifts, as well as improving your rate of force development and therefore improving your ability to get the bar off the floor, are also a great way to step back and tweak your form.

You've probably came across it, but below is a 3 part article series from Eric Cressey, all on dead lift form!

For quick reference, go to the second one and check the various videos and descriptions of the wrong way to DL, and go to the bottom and see a 'good deadlift'


Mastering the Deadlift - Eric Cressey
http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1582703
http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1588392
http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1607555&cr=


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Post by KPj » Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:02 am

Onlyethic - Great article!

Peter, in relation to the Third World Squat article and knowing that you have Magnificent Mobility, have you tried 'Squat to Stand' yet? I've managed to get a few guys to try this in the gym (after them asking me what the hell I'm doing) - Most of them bend down, grab their toes, try in vein to get their chest up, and end up completely locked and unable to initiate a ROM at all.
For those with tight hips, this movement is brutal.

KPj

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Post by pdellorto » Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:00 am

KPj - yeah, I've seen those articles. They were among the first T-Nations I ever read and I bookmarked them long ago. For me there is a line between "knowing what to do" and "having the proper cues to make my body actually do it."

I do the Squat to Stand sometimes. Not too often, because I need a fair amount of mobility work before it to make it smooth and I'm often pressed for time. But I do it before I DL, for sure. I can get them pretty well, although I can't straighten my legs entirely while my fingers are under my feet. But in the hole, I'm fine. Chest up, back arched, balanced. It takes 1-2 reps to get down all the way but once I do a couple Squat to Stands I'm fine. I can just stop at the bottom and sit in the "Third World Squat" aka Asain Squat until my fingers hurt because they're still under my feet.

Mark Rippetoe's comments boiled down to "those look like $h1t" and to get my chest up. So I'll try that next week. Chest up, weight back a bit, belly full of air. I'll record a few of those and see if I've improved.

The deadlift is so annoying. I love it, but my form slides back to back-rounded badness in a very short time after I get it right. I had it nailed tight in December and here it is in February and it's gone bad again. Oh well. Every lift is eternally a work in progress I guess.

Peter

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Post by KPj » Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:23 am

The deadlift is so annoying. I love it, but my form slides back to back-rounded badness in a very short time after I get it right. I had it nailed tight in December and here it is in February and it's gone bad again. Oh well. Every lift is eternally a work in progress I guess.
Absolutely. I can understand that completely. I was recently off the gym with illness for a few weeks. I spend about 10 days of that, 'vegetating' in my bed. So all my old imbalances started to come back for starters.

But when I got back to the gym just over 2 weeks ago, it felt like I was learning the movements again. I started with box squats (which i rotate with DL's) and just couldn't get it, couldn't sit back very well, so next time i placed a mini band round my knees, went around 80% intensity, and really worked on the form - mini band makes you push out to the sides and activate your glutes (and helps you sit back more). Then this week, just last night actually, it was smooth sailing again. It's on to deadlifts next week, and i'm starting with Sumo style, can't wait but will probably have the same issue as I did with box squats and have to re learn the movement...

It's all part of the game :-)

Good luck with the DL - a part of that cressey article really helped me with the set up. The part about imagining a rope tied around your waist and someone pulling it. This is how I began to approach it - Stand at the bar, get into good posture (chest up), then I would push my hips back with legs straight as if they were being pulled by a rope, also keeping my arms straight and chest up until I could grip the bar. This would round my lower back slightly, but when I got to this stage (hips back, chest up, arms straight and legs straight), I would then bend my legs until I was in a decent starting position. My set ups a lot more smooth now, but this was how I approached it initially.

KPj

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Post by TimD » Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:53 am

KPJ wrote
This is how I began to approach it - Stand at the bar, get into good posture (chest up), then I would push my hips back with legs straight as if they were being pulled by a rope, also keeping my arms straight and chest up until I could grip the bar. This would round my lower back slightly, but when I got to this stage (hips back, chest up, arms straight and legs straight), I would then bend my legs until I was in a decent starting position. My set ups a lot more smooth now, but this was how I approached it initially.
end

Good point. Most OL types I know use the same approach. Once the grab the bar, they pull themselves down into a correct starting position with lower back arched, scapula back, chest out, etc. After this position is obtain, most OL types actually dip the butt lower and come back up to starting position quickly then start the pull. This allows use of a reflex action and can give you momentum breaking the bar off the ground. Next time you watch an OL type, watch his set up.
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Post by pdellorto » Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:08 pm

It's all part of the game - yeah, that's why I centered this workout cycle on the deadlift, to get back into it.

When I set up, which isn't seen on the videos, I do the bend-and-grab setup. I used to setup standing and drop down, but I found I had more problems setting up my grip and feet. Now I stand, bend over and grab the bar, then pull down into position.

I'll cue my chest up next time and do a few squat-to-stand reps right before I do my DLs. Essentially, it's the same movement for me, just with a narrower stance when I DL. I figure between thinking of that and thinking of a two-leg takedown (chest forward, back arched, belly full of air, explode from the hips) I should do much better next Monday.

One thing that Mark Rippetoe said that stuck with me was that any DL that comes up that fast, even wrong, is light. That tells me my form is standing in the way of much greater weights - if I can haul up 120kg fast with crappy form, how much weight can I get up with proper form? I know when I do it right, 100kg feels like nothing.

Coincidently, on Sunday Japanese TV did one of their "day in the life of an Olympic Athlete" programs. It was centered on a female weightlifter and followed her around in a day's training. It was really good because she was ironing out problems in her snatch form (she doesn't always lock her right arm out) and in her split jerk. So I got to see good video of form errors and how to iron them out. One of the things I noticed was the dip and drive on the clean. It was very, very educational. Although I was terribly jealous of her nice olympic platforms, chalk bucket, and eagle-eyed coach. Bleh.
I feel bad that she cleans and jerks close to what I deadlift, and she's nowhere near my size. 56kg vs. 83kg :(

As always, thanks for helping me with my training. I'm much stronger thanks to the advice I get here.

Peter

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Post by pdellorto » Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:12 am

These are great resources. I also found this video incredibly useful: The Diesel Crew Deadlift 101:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 2460&hl=en

20 minutes of DLs and DL variations. Not as broad as SquatRx but really excellent. I may have posted it before but I'm not certain.

Peter

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Re: Deadlift form check

Post by Kenny Croxdale » Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:28 pm

pdellorto wrote:Guys,

I posted about this over on Strengthmill, in the Coach's Q&A forum, for Mark Rippetoe to look at. But I'm looking for your feedback as well. My deadlift has gotten kind of sucky again...I'm not sure if it's fatigue or what, but I can't seem to keep my back from rounding as I go up in weight.
Peter,

Your lower back is going to round a bit as you near you near you max in that rep range. Also, as you back tried it will round more.

Research by Dr Tom McLaughlin (PhD in biomechanics/former powerlifter) shows that the firing order of a conventional deadlifter is back-legs-back.

That means the lower back initiates pulling the weight off the floor more so than the legs pushing it off the floor.

McLaughlin went on to state that stiff leg deadlifts increase your strength off the floor in a conventional deadlift.

Also, what you want to do is "quater squat" the weight, so to speak. You want your hips fairly high (as your are)...sit back into a "quater squat position. This places you at a better strength advantace.

With that said, the quater squat is a much better deadlift exercise than a squat exercise.

Squatting down too low, puts your leg drive at a disadvantage.

Think of it this way. Do you half or quater squat more weight?
The weight appears to pull you forward as you start this deadlift. You want to pull the weight back on you, not let it pull you forward.
Here I am doing 5 x 90kg a set later, just for a form check:
http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/ ... 128341.flv
This lift looks pretty good.
I'm trying hard to keep my back flat, but it just rounds out
On heavy loads some rounding of the back is going to occur.
- especially that 120kg but also the end of the 5 x 90kg set.
When your technique breaks down, STOP THE EXERCISE. Continueing to perform the deadlift in this situation develops bad technique.

A better method of strengthening the lower back is to use auxliiary exercises.
These should be doable for me - not too long ago I did 3 x 132.5kg, and I got a lot of good hands-on deadlift coaching back in NJ over Christmas break. I'm not sure how I crept back to badness.
Is you best technique, in any movement, performed when your muscles are fresh or tired? Obviouly, when fresh. Tired equals sloppy.

I suspect that any technique problems that you have are due to performing the exercise when you lower back is tired.

In pushing for the final rep, your not focused on technique. The only thing on your mind it get it up however you can.

That is why research states that once you technique starts to fall apart, STOP THE EXERCISE. Continueing to perform it reinforces BAD TECHNIQUE...BAD BEHAVIOR.

Also, the lower back is easily overtrained (research Mclaughlin).

Add to that, the lower back is involved in just about everything you do: Squats (especially) and any standing movements such as overhead press, curls, upright row, etc.

They all take their toll on your lower back.

One of my best students (so to speak) is Mike Tronski. Mike improved his deadlift from 242.5 kb/534 lbs to 287.5 kg/633 lbs by cutting back on his deadlift to once every two to three weeks.

Mike just posted his 633 lb deadlift at the Fitness Expo/Pasadena, CA. The results will soon be posted at powerliftingca.com

Phil Rivera (Albuquerque, NM) increased his deadlift 40 lbs by cutting back to deadlifting once a month. Phil used good mornings and Olympic pulls as auxiliary exericses for his lower back. Tronski implememented them as well.

Kenny Croxdale


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