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Lower back: arch or round during deadlifts?

zackrock

zackrock

Member
Sep 8, 2010
87
6
#1
I've always been confused about whether to round the back or not. Most articles and things I have read say to maintain a tight arch in your back doing deadlifts, bent over rows, and other such exercises.

However, I find my deadlift to be best with a slight bit of roundedness. Also, I've seen vids of a lot of immensely strong people pulling with a rounded back. In addition, all strongmen round their back picking up Atlas Stones. Further, people occasionally do a round-back variation of Good Mornings.

Any information given would be useful, particularly relating to the long-term effects of lifting like this.
 
AWARE72

AWARE72

MuscleHead
Oct 17, 2010
323
18
#2
IMO, when you round your back it puts alot of extra stress on the lower back. I always try to keep an arch in the LB and keep shoulders pulled back.
 
IronCore

IronCore

Bigger Than MAYO - VIP
Sep 9, 2010
4,321
1,535
#3
IMO, when you round your back it puts alot of extra stress on the lower back. I always try to keep an arch in the LB and keep shoulders pulled back.
agreed... I was thinking the same thing aware!
 
W

Wolf

MuscleHead
Dec 25, 2010
274
45
#4
Rounding of the back or too high of an arc are both going to be bad for your back. Ideally you want to aim for a tight, straight back. The mechanics of a proper deadlift are different than those of an atlas stone lift, good mornings, etc. The bar placement will determine the particular mechanics of the movement. Rounding of the back happens because of a weakness along the chain or a deficiency in form. You'll notice in a lot of big lifters when they go higher their backs will arc slightly simply because of the massive load they need to lift, usually when you see videos of powerlifters aiming for a high weight it's at the end of a training program and most likely a weight that is some measure of a percent over their predicted 1rm, then depending on the lifter they go 5-20 pounds over that even. So a lot of lifters in 1rm videos or even double or triples with slightly rounded backs probably haven't even lifted that weight in the gym before.

Second a breakdown in form can cause the rounding of a lower back. If the hips rise too fast from the initial portion of the lift it will cause the rounding of the back. This is because a lack of keeping the hamstrings tight and a proper arc in the back as well as just not having practiced the actual lift enough times to keep proper form. Long term effects of rounding your back is inevitable damage on your back especially as the weights get heavier. It's not an efficient way to move the weight, the rounding of your back requires that your back muscles shift from a stabilization focus to actually needing to pull your back straight.

Here's some videos to illustrate.


Hips rise first out of sync with the upper body, there is absolutely 0 pull on the bar until he fully raises his hips all the way up as a result the lower back rounds out, as he rises to compete the lift the back muscles need to straiten out the back to get it in an upright position to complete the lift.

Versus someone using much heavier weight


You see Derek Poundstone here, I could've posted a video of any good deadlifter, but he moves in a very deliberate full body motion even with that tremendous weight.

Hoped this helped.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
barbellbeast

barbellbeast

MuscleHead
Oct 4, 2010
342
43
#5
Since highschool football I've only done strict form on everything and 100% of the time on big compound lifts so I've always arched my back. I remember how astonished I was the first time I saw a buddy of mine who juiced before I did bent over like the St. Louis Arch doing BB Rows.
 
fixxer

fixxer

MuscleHead
Dec 15, 2010
993
162
#6
Wow those two videos clearly show the difference between lifting with your legs and just your back, good post Wolf
 
klbsa

klbsa

Member
Jan 5, 2011
92
19
#7
Be careful arching too much, you could end up having sciatic nerve issues if the weight is heavy.....I would know
 
Dangling Unit

Dangling Unit

VIP Member
Jan 2, 2011
669
70
#9
Are they rounding their backs, or are their back muscles making it look like it's round? A side picture of me makes it look like I'm slouching, but I'm really standing straight-up.
 
blubbard

blubbard

TID Lady Member
May 31, 2012
78
11
#11
Neutral spine position. So some people think they are arching but in reality they are just keeping a neutral spine. I round my mid and upper back some.
 
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