How detrimental is deadlifting with a slightly rounded back really? How detrimental is deadlifting with a slightly rounded back really?

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Thread: How detrimental is deadlifting with a slightly rounded back really?

  1. #1
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    Default How detrimental is deadlifting with a slightly rounded back really?

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    Hey,

    should even a slightly rounded lower back in the deadlift be avoided at all costs or is it somewhat ok (or even irrelevant?) if it´s only for a few reps?

    A female client of mine lifts 88,5x3 kilos next wednesday and her big goal of 90 kilos the wednesday after that. Since around 85 kilos her back gets slightly round during the lift. Her overall technique is pretty solid but the back starts to look something like this:

    unnamed.jpg

    Would it be ok to perform the 88,5 and 90 with the current technique and only then go back to something like 82 or 83 where she can keep the back perfectly straight again or should she let go of the 90 kilo goal immediately and go right back to 82 and work her way up again?

    Wouldn´t be the end of the world to postpone the 90 attempt for a few more weeks but you know how it is. It would be easier as in "more motivating" to finally do the 90 and then go back and work on technique.

    So how detrimental really is a slightly rounded back for 6 reps?

  2. #2
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    Why are you programming 6-reps? Why not have her complete three reps at 90kg with her back in "acceptable" extension and add a back-off for 5-reps?

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    Is she able to keep it flat and held in place during lighter deadlifts? Her lumbar spine comes unlock or thoracic spine or both?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Troxell View Post
    Why are you programming 6-reps? Why not have her complete three reps at 90kg with her back in "acceptable" extension and add a back-off for 5-reps?
    She does a 3RM and then a backoff set of 3 @90 of this 3RM. So in two weeks it would be 90x3 + 81x3.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Troupos View Post
    Is she able to keep it flat and held in place during lighter deadlifts? Her lumbar spine comes unlock or thoracic spine or both?
    Yes, she has solid form and a straight back and the rounding only started recently at around 85 kilos because she’s near her current limit.

    And a little bit of both like in the picture above but maybe not as much.

    100x3 was her big goal for the year and the 90x3 would be an awesome intermediate goal, also for her belief system because two months ago she thought 70 kilos were impossible for a 55 kilo woman 😀

  5. #5
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    Just as a preface, we like everyone to pull with a nice, flat back, held in place by the extensors, so that musculature gets trained. Also, because a bendy spine tends to make for a shitty force transmitter. Also, also to avoid a potential tweak that will interrupt training.
    As coaches, we know this becomes more challenging at limit/PR weights. Having worked with our lifters, knowing their program history, how long they've been training, and any injury history, you'd have to make a decision about whether a few degrees of flexion could be tolerated in a PR/limit situation and if it serves the client's training goals to do so. If the back comes unlocked a little on the last rep or two of a PR set of 5, and they've been training with me for at least a few months, and they're younger with no history of back issues, I probably wouldn't get too wound up about it. I'd certainly make a note of it because it's good information and it will guide future programming to be sure. Just went through this a few weeks ago with a trainee myself.
    The detriment typically isn't in the first time it comes a few degrees out of extension on a PR set. The detrimental stuff is more likely to happen when the back is continuously allowed to come unlocked and we keep adding weight to the bar session after session. Because we're not getting the complete training effect we want and because of the risk for a tweak.
    Is she doing any lighter deadlift work? Maybe it's time to increase the number of days between PR deadlifts. Could give her a lighter day next week and then go for 90 the following week depending on how 88,5 looks.

  6. #6
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    Thanks Pete!

    She finished her linear progression last Saturday with a 87x3 PR + a backoff set of 78,5x3 and now switches to a 4 day split, where she only hits a strength PR once per week instead of twice per week like she did up until now.

    She’ll probably do the 88,5x3 + a backoff set of 80x3 today and we’ll see what the back does.

    Then Saturday after her squat strength PR she’ll do some lighter volume deadlifts. Probably 70 kilo 3x5 (3 sets of 5) and we‘ll focus on a perfectly straight back there.

    Today is also the first time ever where she deadlifts first. Before the squats. During LP she kept the normal order of Squat, Press, Deadlift. Now in her 4 day split she has a deadlift strength PR on Wednesday (followed by some lighter volume squats) and on Saturday a squat strength PR (followed by some lighter volume deadlifts).

    So maybe deadlifting first without the fatigue of the heavy squats will also make it a little easier.

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    That's a good point too. I prefer intensity deadlifts before volume squats as well.

  8. #8
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    starting strength coach development program
    A little update how it went today:

    She completed 88,5x3 + 80x3 but the 88,5 set was with a very rounded back this time. First she tried it with a completely straight back like in her warmup sets (she films these too) but couldn´t get the first rep past the knees. The 80 kilo backoff set was fine and just minimally rounded.

    So we decided to abandon or postpone project 90 for now and she´ll do 80(2x3) next Wednesday with good form and work her way back up maintaining proper form. This Saturday she´ll do 70(3x5), her first deadlift volume session, after her squat intensity PR.

    I think it´s the right decision. Safety first.

    Thanks for your advice and insights!

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