Personal Trainer Tips: When Deadlifts Go Wrong!

The Personal Trainers & Strength Coaches out there gave us great feedback on Adrain Crowe’s last post on how “Nipples Up” Fixes Everything for the Romanian Deadlift exercise. In this post, the thinking man’s Personal Trainer: Adrain Crowe discusses when Deadlifts go wrong…

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When the Deadlift Goes Wrong

by Adrian Crowe

I’ve already stated my case for dropping the eccentric phase of a deadlift at your highest weights here: But in having years of lower back issues related to an injury in my teens there are times when my love of deadlifting just can’t be carried out. When a doctor suggested I give up deadlifting forever I woke up and came to the realization that if I want to keep this magical exercise I’d best find the optimal, low back friendly way to do it.

When the deadlift goes wrong what usually happens? A sudden blow out and loss of lumbar curvature (neutral spine) and usually within the first half of the lift, right? Go back a few seconds…how did it lead to that?

First and foremost if you don’t know how to posture the deadlift, drop the weight and start all over again. I suggest you cue the sternum over the bar trick I utilize in this video:

But moving on, I came to realize there was a sequence of events the led to the perfect, low back pain-free deadlift. My personal sequence goes a little something like this: walk up to bar, set feet, sternum over the bar, set grip or tighten straps, “nipples up” (retract shoulder girdle, depress scapula), tighten low back curvature, now: find hamstring tension, find low/mid back tension, bounce back and forth between those until they are even, drive through the heels to hip thrust. Bang! Perfect pain-free deadlift.

Watch the sequence here:

Watch the sequence at a PR weight for me on snatch grip deadlift here:

Now, to the point. When it goes wrong 1) the person rushes their own personal sequence or 2) they don’t even know they’re using a sequence and that it may be faulty. There is no magic sequence, sorry. We’re all different. Different limb lengths, different postural tensions/laxities and we prefer different deadlifts (conventional, sumo, snatch grip, Romanian). But do yourself this favor: write out your deadlifting sequence (or any exercise). Do I really think about every step of my deadlift? No. I think most people have the capacity to think of maximum one or two words/phrases/images. For me it’s: hamstring/low back tension equal = GO. My sequence never fails me. But it took me 10 years to figure it out. I’m hoping the above saves you some time.

Check out Adrain’s training Blog here.

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