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Roy 12-08-2003 07:10 AM

Barbell deadlifts literally screw up my back. I do them with perfect form and technique, and still, my back is in pain for days inhibiting any future workouts. My buddy who i graduated with was a wrestler and football player said the same thing, so he just never did them or replaced them with dumbell deadlifts.

Does a barbell deadlift benefit much more than a dumbell as far as power improvement goes for sports? I think the dumbell deadlift would help improve grip strength a little more since each forearm is isolated from the other. Not to mention, being able to keep your back straight all the way. Any thoughts?



Barry Cooper 12-08-2003 08:24 AM


Unless you have some sort of major back problem, you have got to be doing something wrong. Deadlifts are a very safe exercise. One big AHA for me was to arch my back at the very bottom,when I'm setting up. Sort of think flaring your butt at the guys playing for the other team (every gym has them). Keep your weight balanced evenly over both feet, and--most importantly--keep a solid contraction in your abs all the way through the movement. This is in all likelihood what you are not doing. The way I think of it is you are doing nothing other than bringing your hips to the bar, and the only way to do that is to stand up. If your stomach is loose, your hips won't move, and your swayback will win.

As far as barbell versus dumbell, if you're using the same weight, I would tend to think the dumbells are actually better. Dumbells are just much tougher to load. I tried getting a 150 lb. dumbell out of my gym rack once, and it wasn't pretty.

Robert Wolf 12-08-2003 02:33 PM

I'm with Barry...if you can get some video to myself or Coach we may be able to help. DB's tend to start turning into a trap-bar-deadlift which is much more of a squatting/quad emphasis movement. I'd analyze your form, start with a weight which does not cause problems and slowly progress from there. You may have to avoid max-efforts for a time but the increased technique and back strenght will make up for it in the long run.

Roy 12-08-2003 03:36 PM

I appreciate it robb. But I dont have a video camera or anything like that. Theres another variable, though which I should have mentioned: When I did the deadlifts, it was the first time I've ever done the in my life. It was my own workout I did last week, which wasnt crossfit style. It was more of a leg strength day. I did 4 sets of squats prior to my 4 sets of deadlifts. I did a one hour trampoline session later that day. I understood that I was real sore since I did multiple sets of a new exercise in which I gave a lot of effort on every set. The reason I was concerned, and still am, is because I did these last wednesday, and my lower back is STILL sore. I've just never been sore this long after any one workout. I suppose I'll look up some articles around the net. Any more thoughts on this situation? Thanks again!



Paul "The Viking" 12-08-2003 06:14 PM


Deadlifts can leave you sore for days even when done with proper form and even when you do them on a regular basis. The lower back is one of the slowest muscle groups to recover and the deadlift is one of the most taxing exercises on the lower back. So, since you're new to deadlifting, I'm not surprised that you'd be sore for a long time.

That being said, I'll just bring up one other point: by working squats before your deadlifts, there is a form trap that's easy to fall into. Namely, you begin the deadlift by extending your legs without really lifting the bar enough which leaves you bent too far forward. Then, the rest of the deadlift becomes an almost stiff legged deadlift - often with a rounded back. I find that, after doing squats, I have to pay extra attention my form on deadlifts to avoid this problem. I wouldn't say to avoid this combination - just to pay extra attention to form!

Welcome to the joys (pain!) of deadlifting!


Coach 12-09-2003 06:32 AM


I'm in with Barry and Robb...

You're doing something wrong and it's important to figure it out at workable loads (light, real light). Be safe.

You can do this self-taught, but you'll need to be resourceful. On that subject, search around for a way to get videotape of your dead to us.


Gregory Spilson 12-09-2003 06:35 AM

I also had the same problem when I first attempted to perform deadlifts. I thought they left you prone to injury and didn't see the benefits. If you read the method that Pavel goes over in the PTP book, it should alleviate your problem and help you gain tremendously from deadlifts. The first couple of times I had to talk myself through the form as I was performing them and now it has become part of muscle memory. Hope this helps, it did with me.

Roy 12-10-2003 09:51 AM

Sounds good Gregory. Is there a website that has Pavel going over it? And Robb/Coach, I have a buddy with a digital camera and he might be able to take many repetitive pictures throughout my concentric phase of the deadlift. would that work? Thanks again everyone!



Robert Wolf 12-10-2003 06:29 PM

Yes! that should work fine. Most digital cameras have the ability to take small movies as well.

Gregory Spilson 12-11-2003 11:41 AM

In response to Roy. I'm not sure whether or not Pavel posts the form for deads on his site. But here's how I go about it in a nutshell

1. Stand over bar, shins fairly close
2. Make sure to keep whole body tight, especially arch in back
3. Keep head up and don't look at bar.
4. Use inverted hand grip to hold onto heavier weight
5. Begin decent by keeping back tight, and sit back with butt, rather than down
6. When your hands reach the bar, squeeze bar and tighten triceps to keep arms straight
7. Lift bar by pushing floor away (using your legs)
8. When you lock out, keep back tight, flex butt and flex abs to insure you don't lean back
9. On decent, keep head up and push butt back while letting bar descend

I think this should sum it up. I used the self-talk method for a while, and it proved very effective. Much like in the way I learned to shoot a pistol. Hope this helps.

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