Flat and Round Back Deadlifts

February 4th, 2014 by Laura

My positioning through the deadlift is pretty good in the sense that I stay behind the bar and do not drift. On max pulls, I allow for some rounding of the upper back. It makes for a shorter pull but it can turn into a real grind at the top. It looks like this:

(Grinder at :58. Fail at :11.)

Even when the lift gets locked out successfully, a friend pointed out that it might read as being hitchy and suggested some drills for a tighter position off the ground.


Here were the results:

Before: Empty Bar

After: Empty Bar

There was a notable difference with the empty/65lb bar.

Before: Blocks

After: Blocks

It eliminated the hitch off the blocks. The weight in the ‘before’ video was 370 and only 300 in the ‘after’, however the hitchy pattern was present even in lighter sets prior to this fix.

Concentrating on the new cues had me thinking a lot, killed my enthusiasm and drive off the floor and I had some false starts. This is new and still in a ‘thinking’ stage so that is to be expected.

Later, I failed a 350 dead on the floor; it didn’t budge. That was a weight I have been able to pull pretty easily for over a year. After that happened, I scrapped the whole flat back idea and retried the lift, reverting to the rounded style. 350 flew like an opener. Minutes later, I was also able to pull 400.

(Side view at :20)

If I round, I’ll have an easy time off the floor and tough lockout. If I keep a flat back, the lockout will be easier – if I can break the floor. Which I cant. I’m failing 50 pounds under my max with a flat back. I’m scrapping the idea of using a flat back on a max for now.

Since this was something new, I expected to have a little struggle and regression before building back up. But I am not convinced that a flat back pull could be the best option for my build. My strengths in the deadlift are speed and leverage as opposed to the brute strength of being able to maintain this back positioning. This style kills my floor speed and the more upright posture puts my hips even farther back than my long femurs had them in the rounded position. I feel like my current pull style has more potential.

That said, I’ve realized that I can cheat a lot of exercises just by dipping my shoulders forward a bit. I’ll do it in movements like lunging, and in post-surgery therapy exercises. That little rounding of the upper back lets me do a LOT more – at the expense of neglecting what I am actually trying to accomplish with the exercise.

I will not be changing my competition pull style, but I will be doing a lot more flat back training.

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