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I've been doing Deadlifts for 2 months now and I wanted to get some opinions on my Form (or if I should mainly focus on improving). I think that my lower back looks weird but maybe its just a layer of fat. I do feel a discomfort there sometimes though.

This is the 4th Set with these Reps: 6 6 5 6 7 9 At a 90kgs / 198pounds

https://youtube.com/shorts/cN6hxIa_4Eo?feature=share

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    Any chance you could post the actual video instead of a screengrab of the video? It seems like a useless extra step to make, since it lowers the quality of the footage.
    – Alec
    Jul 26 at 21:29
  • No sadly thats the original. I did that so i can listen to music while recording. But you're right it looks like s**t
    – onmyyaw
    Jul 27 at 9:19
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I would suggest starting with the barbell on the floor. If you can't, or won't, and the blocks are necessary1, then I would find some way to safely elevate yourself to the same level. Once you and the barbell are at the same level, you can work on getting your deadlift technique down. For that, I would recommend watching Alan Thrall's 5-step approach to the deadlift. Use all 5 steps.

I do agree with Mandy, I think you're still doing this rather stiff-legged and you could benefit from sinking into the deadlift.

With respect to the 5 steps that Alan points out, I want to draw emphasis to #3 and #4. Once the barbell is over your mid foot and you've gripped the barbell, bring your shins to the bar and then pack your lats. In order to bring your shins to the bar, without moving your feet, you'll have to drop you butt. You can think of the deadlift as a leg press, in the lower half of the movement, where the goal is to push the ground away.


1 If your plates are really small (i.e. not olympic sized plates) then you can elevate the barbell such that the center of the barbell is 8.875" off the ground.

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    My weightplates are extremely small and with those blocks the barbell gets elevated to 22-23cm / 8,85 inch which is the olympic height. Would you still recommend removing the blocks?
    – onmyyaw
    Jul 26 at 23:55
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    @onmyyaw that's perfect then. Definitely keep the blocks. Jul 27 at 0:25
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    @onmyyaw -- ah, I hadn't considered that. David is right. Keep the blocks then if its because the plates are extremely small. Caveat, 8.875" is from the ground to the center of the barbell. Just double-check the measurement.
    – C. Lange
    Jul 27 at 1:48
  • Yeah you're right i have neglected #3 and #4 thank you :D
    – onmyyaw
    Jul 27 at 9:25
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    @onmyyaw -- no worries. Feel free to take these answers into account and post another form-check question if you'd like.
    – C. Lange
    Jul 28 at 4:20
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You're pretty much using all back with your current form. Lifting with your legs is really important with a deadlift and will help you get more weight, as well as, not hurt your back. You have a really great form in your back, you just need to squat down a bit more for the full motion.

StrongLifts suggest squatting down until your shins hit the bar. The overall angle will vary depending on your size, but it will give you better form for your body. The link has a really great step-by-step guide and a checklist you can download

You are almost doing a Romanian Deadlift, which is a great lift, but you want to do this at a lower weight and it works your back and hamstrings a lot more.

Romanian deadlift

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  • Oh s**t i always thought the romanian deadlift was the conventional deadlift xD. Thank you for your tip i will try to figure that out
    – onmyyaw
    Jul 26 at 23:47
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    That image is extremely inaccurate. Having thighs parallel to the ground at the bottom of the deadlift will be impossible for any lifter that doesn't have an absurdly long torso. I'd say a 45° thigh angle would be pretty typical, but specific joint angles are not something people should aim for, because they are determined entirely by individual anthropometry. There are no universally correct angles. Jul 27 at 0:29
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    @david Scarlett It’s not impossible to have thighs parallel to the ground, but it is inaccurate. The set up in the image is for a clean deadlift, not a conventional deadlift. Jul 27 at 1:48
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    It is definitely not impossible. I was a powerlifter for 6 years and would compete regularly. Many people deadlifted like the image I provided. This guide gives a better example of squatting down until your knees touch the bar. So the angle is definitely going to be different per person stronglifts.com/deadlift
    – mrizz
    Jul 27 at 14:52
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    Good point. I'll edit the original image to the strong lift link.
    – mrizz
    Jul 27 at 17:33
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You need to position your feet so that the bar starts directly over the mid-foot.

Your biggest technique issue that is visible from this video is that you are starting with the bar over the balls of your feet, rather than over the centre of your feet. You can see this in these screenshots I've taken from your video, with a vertical line superimposed over where the centre of the bar started.

Deadlift bar foot position

Having the bar over the front of your foot is a substantially weaker pulling position than having it over the mid-foot, as it requires you to lean over further to reach the bar. With correct foot position, the bar will generally only be about an inch in front of your shins when you're standing up. This will feel very close, but you can check that it's correct by leaning to either side to verify that it's inline with the centre of your feet. Don't tilt your head forward to look as that will result in you looking on a slight backward angle, rather than straight down, which messes up your perspective.

Others have comments on keeping the bar in contact with your shins - this is correct, but you must fix the starting position first, as pushing your knees forward when the bar is also too far forward will still leave you in that weaker pulling position.

(It's possible to tell that the bar isn't in contact with your shins from the fact that your hips stay stationary when the bar first moves off the floor. If your shins were touching the bar, then you'd need to start the lift with knee extension, in order to get your knees out of the way of the moving bar, and that would cause your hips to rise with the bar. But, again, this doesn't matter yet because you need to fix your foot position first.)

I'll also recommend the excellent Alan Thrall's 5 Step Deadlift Setup video.

Finally, if you're needing to take a rest in the middle of your set, the weight is very likely too high for the number of reps that you're aiming for. If you were previously able to complete the same number of reps at a lighter weight without resting mid-set, then that suggests that either you're adding weight too fast, or you're trying to force your way through a stall in progress which would actually require a rethink of your training program, diet, or some other factor.

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  • Thank you for your comment. To your last topic I gotta admit that I didnt really care about what weight was apropiate for my form. I didn't train for 3 weeks and was eager for lifting again. But I'm sure that my fatique will plumed again when I just push through this small beginning phase.
    – onmyyaw
    Jul 28 at 13:30
  • Ah, ok. If this was immediately following 3 weeks without training, that would certainly explain it. (And I'd probably also expect you to be pretty sore the next day!) In that case you should be able to drop the weight a little to be able to get the same number of reps in as previously, and should be able to work back up to your previous weights in just a week or two. Jul 28 at 13:33
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the book Starting Strength has extremely detailed instructions on deadlift form. Depending on your age (if you are under ~30), it might be a good book to follow in general.

I can't tell for sure, but my hunch is that you are located on an upstairs floor of a house or apartment (thus the blocks and highly controlled return of the bar). If that is correct, you are going to be very limited in how much progress you can make on DL's (at higher weights it's normal to drop the bar, or at least let gravity do most of the work on the return.... but that risks breaking a hole in the subfloor). If you can get onto a hard, level and solid surface, that will be a big help. As others have said, try and get rid of the blocks.

As far as form:

  • pick your chin up a little bit more, until you're almost looking forward. Don't look down and don't try to watch the bar.
  • Think of the lift as a pull, where you drag the bar up your shins. Start with your leg just about touching the bar with your knees bent, and keep it close like that the whole way up.
  • Most of the work should be done by your upper legs and butt. Don't turn it into a back exercise.
  • I can't see your hand position, but it should be natural, just outside your knees. Not super close, and not ultra wide. Use an overhand grip for as long as possible, then switch to a mixed grip (one overhand, one underhand). Never use straps, but do use chalk.
  • Slow down a bit. Not to the point where its over the top, but you don't need to power the reps out quite so fast (as you move up in weight, this will happen naturally).

Edit: Do standing lifts (DL included) wearing either completely flat soled shoes, or no shoes at all. Avoid cross trainers, tennis shoes, running shoes, volleyball shoes.... basically anything with supports or that is designed to change your gait in a way that is considered beneficial for other sports. It's detrimental to weight lifting, even if you normally use inserts (I have very flat feet and have no problems doing this).

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  • "Most of the work should be done by your upper legs and butt. Don't turn it into a back exercise." Starting Strength actually says the opposite (3rd ed, page 99): "our purpose [in training the convention deadlift] is the development of lower back strength" Jul 28 at 12:14
  • @DavidScarlett Starting Strength absolutely considers the DL as an exercise for developing back strength, you are correct. But read a bit further and you'll find... When the trunk is held rigid, it can function as a solid segment along which the force generated by the hips and legs can be transferred to the load. The back is heavily engaged in the lift, but because it's between the arms that are holding the load, and the hips/legs that are generating the force used to lift it.
    – Z4-tier
    Jul 28 at 13:42
  • agreed, but my point is that the back and the hips must work together in the deadlift. You can't use the hips without using the back, as the back is needed to transmit force to the arms. So people shouldn't worry about "deadlifting with their back", or about feeling the most fatigue in their back, because the deadlift definitely is a back exercise. Jul 29 at 4:38
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Well I will tell you what my strength coach used to tell me every time I deadlifted (even when I got good at it)...

Get your ass down!

Your butt is up and it is pushing your equilibrium forward too soon. You have to almost force yourself back to get the bar straight up.

What you need to do is lighten the weight. And then get deep and comfortable with your legs not 90 degrees but pretty close while starting the movement. Weight should be on your heels and the bar should go from the shin towards/rolling-up your body. Your body should not be at 90 degrees in comparison to the ground. Your legs should be tilted back an extra 5-10 degrees.

So your form sucks... that isn't a big deal. You are doing the work. But understand just like guys who don't go all the way down in their squat you have put yourself in the same boat - you will plateau very quickly.

Your back is the weak link. You want that back straight so that it forces other parts of your body to carry the load. Your back should be getting what we call a plank workout. That is your back and stomach should be trying to hold itself flat - and instead of a great amount of time, this is a great amount of weight.

The missing link... is your hips. Because you are not getting low enough your hips are not engaging. When your hips fire you should feel a small amount of rotational movement and jolt in your body. Much like turning a wheel and something popping out. This is what allows people to deadlift 600 pounds. Some of the strongest guys in the world would have an issue doing 500-600 with your technique.

Also the other answers have good observations... but I will say this. No you are not doing Romanian deadlifts, you are just deadlifting with normal beginner form. The thing about bar height... not sure if that matters that much. I have done deadlifts from all heights. Yea with a lower bar you might rip your shins or lean for the first few inches but your butt wasn't even down at the beginning... has nothing to do with bar height.

One last thing... You could just by a deadlift bar to help train that good habits in too.

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  • Thank you this was very insightful. How exactly do you bring your hips down? 1. Midfoot under Bar 2. Shin to bar and thats it? Or do you add 3. And bring the hips down as an addition to "2." ?
    – onmyyaw
    Jul 27 at 22:05
  • Telling people to get their butt down in the deadlift is not good advice, and it is not possible to pull from this position. Any attempt to do so will just result in the butt rising before the bar comes off the floor, for the reasons explained in this answer to another deadlift question: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/43643/… Jul 28 at 2:20
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    @DavidScarlett - thanks for the feedback and downvote. Good job linking to your answer in another question too! What you have failed to do is read my answer or maybe you don't understand it. I did not say squat the deadlift. He has to engage his hips lower and the hips most roll to be powerful. Everyone is slightly different with this with body make-up/height/weight/stongpoints... so that is why I suggested he lower the weight and figure out how to sink his but and incorporate the hip roll up. cont....
    – DMoore
    Jul 28 at 7:28
  • Your answer - no offense - is useless. Thanks for answering something without giving someone something concrete to do. He needs to get his butt lower and he needs to roll his hips. Getting your butt down to the floor is not what I said. Having your legs at ~100 degrees is doable. He was at ~140-150. But what do I know... I was deadlifting ~650 at 22? I got taught to be an athlete when lifting not a machine. I have also taught at several colleges/high-schools and person trainer to athletes for 20 years.
    – DMoore
    Jul 28 at 7:37
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Don’t focus on the form. Focus on where you feel the tension. Focus on using the right muscles. Hint : not the ones in your back.

I believe Stuart McGill provides the best technique for any movement where your back is involved.

He calls it the bracing technique and it basically consists in creating a corset with your core muscles (obliques notably) and your breathing. Read McGill books or listen to podcasts with him. You will gain a ton of knowledge applicable elsewhere and bulletproof your body in the process. You will also see if you are curious that what McGill preaches can be found elsewhere with other names.

I have mixed feelings on focussing on the form rather than tension of the muscles to judge whether or not one is performing the movement correctly. On one side I believe that tension is more important. You can look perfect but still using your back to lift. And you can look ‘ugly’ but have a right tension in the right muscles. On the other side studies say that deviation from neutral spine puts higher stresses on the disks.

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  • Yeah i know what you mean, sometimes i get good tension in my quads but usually not and I couldn't really connect it to something.
    – onmyyaw
    Jul 27 at 22:07
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    Quads during deadlift ? You should feel it in your hamstrings Jul 28 at 4:50
  • Yeah you're right I meant hamstrings. Sorry I'm not a native english speaker
    – onmyyaw
    Jul 29 at 17:50

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