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Deadlifting, round back

By Some bloke.

I’ve always had some unconventional views on the deadlift. They mainly stem from my unconventional technique in deadlifting.
You see, I’m a roundback deadlifter in the mold of Vince Anello or Lamar Gant. Now I’m not equating myself in their tremendous company; just comparing so you get a feel for my posture under a load.

In fact, my nickname was given to me after one particularly heavy session many years ago. As my back contorted under and around the bar, my training partner made the following comments: “Holy _ _ _ _, your back bent like you were friggin Gumby!” It stuck!

I’ve gotten a lot of criticism over the years by others who say that I should keep my back straight (flat). They say that if I keep my back flat and use my legs more, I’ll lift LOTS more weight.
I’ve tried many times to incorporate this information into my technique … with less than successful results.
The reasons are simple.
I don’t have the biomechanical advantages to lift this way. In fact, I’ll argue that many people can’t lift with a “flat back” at all, and it is NOT the best way to crane up those big pulls.

The process of keeping your back straight obviously begins in the lower back (generally a little arch in your back).

In setting this position, your hips and butt are set back a little further. When you set up like this, your shoulders and upper back also establish a complementary position … shoulders back, scapulae together.

This is the classic “olympic lifting” position.

While it’s absolutely vital to lift this way in “O” lifting, it is NOT the optimal position for pulling (that is, assuming that you don’t have the genetic advantages for lifting that way … shorter legs, longer torso).

In my case, with long arms, short torso, and long legs, that definitely does not apply.

There are inherent mechanical disadvantages to this position.

First, the bar has the tendency to travel up and slightly forward off the ground. This takes the load away from your center of gravity (i.e. hips and lower back) and places it squarely on the thighs.

If you have great power-pins, you can accomodate the bar travel.

I don’t, and the bar stalls like I was trying to pull a thousand.

Not only that, but the strain it puts on my lower back is brutal.

The other significant disadvantage has to do with shoulder and arm position. When you pull back, you increase the distance the bar must travel to complete the lift.

Your arms and shoulders should support the weight (they are the levers in this scenerio), they should not try to lift the weight (it’s not a shrug).

Here’s what should be happening.

First, the bar should leave the ground traveling up and back.

In order to do this, you have to clear your legs and get the load back towards your center of gravity.

If you have your hips a little higher (use a little more lower back), you accomplish this task.

If you combine that with rounding your shoulders down and forward, you also increase the height of your starting position (ultimately decreasing pulling distance).

This position naturally lends itself to a slightly rounded back position.

Alarm bells and whistles are now going off all over the world-wide web.


I disagree, because the important thing to remember here is that if you maintain a consistant back position, you aren’t going to get hurt.

It’s the times when you go from one position to another (from flat to round, or from flat to an extreme arch on the bench) that you get hurt.

The mechanical advantages (if applicable to your body) actually decrease the amount of pressure you are applying to your back.

In my case even if I’m lifting with a slightly rounded back, the total amount of stress on my body is lower, because I’m lifting with my strongest muscles near my center of gravity.

So rather than using a tight flat back as the position which begins my pull, I use an opposite approach.

After inflating my lungs as much as possible, I push my lower abdominals downwards and outwards against my belt.

This allows my back to gently round, and immediately applies the inter-abdominal pressure necessary to keep my lower back in a constant position throughout the lift.
Pushing your abs out has another (not quite so obvious) benefit as well. It pre-sets your back in a neutral position.
What I mean by this is that it reduces/eliminates torque on your spine by aligning your hips properly.

While I am an advocate for slightly rounded back position to optimize deadlifting, YOU CAN TAKE IT TOO FAR! Please re-read that statement.

Excessive rounding will lead to injury.

But if you are careful and keep your back in the same relative position from start to finish, I’ll bet you add some pounds to your total.


New member
my brother lifts this way and people say "he is going to hurt himself", he has never had any sign of pain or injury and far out lifts me.


New member
I enjoy this post, that video is pretty well exactly the same as my form when i go heavy. At least i know its not just me.


New member
I don't necessarily disagree with round back deadlifting, but I do disagree with pretty much all of this blokes analysis.