Bar vs. dumb bell dead lifts?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 11, 2008 8:48 AM GMT
    I started bar bell dead lifts a while back and found them to be very awkward even at lighter weights. I try very hard to keep correct form because my back is at stake but parts of my body seem to interfere with the path of *desired* motion. I've seen varios videos with professional lifters doing this and I really am starting to think my anatomy is interfering with this lift. Moving all the way to the floor, clearing my knees, and keeping my back straight doesn't seem to be a combination that all fits together.

    I tried dumbbell dead lifts yesterday and they seemed enormously more comfortable. This will ultimately limit my max weight but I'll probably never enter the power lifter category anyway.

    Anyone else experience this or do I need to take another look at my lifting form?
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    Oct 11, 2008 12:31 PM GMT
    There is no such thing as perfect form, not at least in the sense that you can lift in exactly the same way as anyone else. As you've found, your anatomy dictates how you lift. If you really can't lift from the floor then don't do it, you are only doing to be dropping deadlifts from your repertoire.

    However, I'd guess that it's really just that you need to start again. Start with just the bar. Get a video camera and record yourself lifting. Shoot from an angle and the side and then see where it's going wrong. Your knees will get in the way, but you should be lifting by pushing your hips forward, your back shouldn't be an issue.

    Remember too that unless you have a specific back injury then your back is less prone to injury than you might think. A straight leg deadlift for example is exactly how the 'health experts' warn you never to lift.
  • D972

    Posts: 125

    Oct 11, 2008 2:30 PM GMT
    i myself have an extremely hard time doing barbell deadlifts with my back straight. My back always seems to arch forward. My workout partner has no problems doing it with his back perfectly straight. I have decided I will keep doing it until I am able to correct my form. For now my partner/trainer wants me to start with lower weights when using the barbells. We do them with dumb bells in order to go heavy though honestly 70lb dumbbells on each side hurts my hands when holding on for too long a period. I think what you are experiencing is normal, and we (because I'm in the same boat) have to train to correct.
  • UncleverName

    Posts: 741

    Oct 11, 2008 3:46 PM GMT
    Taller guys are actually at a huge biomechanical disadvantage deadlifting with a barbell, compared to someone my height. You have to get so much lower when you start from the floor, and have to move the weight so much further. Google for "tall biomechanic deadlift" and you'll find some info on this. The book Scrawny to Brawny talks about this a lot. They suggest placing the barbell on weight plates till it's high enough that you can start with your back straight. Of course that won't work for the Olympics. But you're not training for the Olympics, are you? There's also a deadlift machine at some gyms here. Makes it even easier to raise the start position.
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    Oct 11, 2008 6:17 PM GMT
    I'm glad that unclevername mentioned that because I was just going to. Remember that the bar should be at mid shin height, so put some weight plates below it until it is, or otherwise improvise.
  • UncleverName

    Posts: 741

    Oct 11, 2008 6:51 PM GMT
    If you haven't seen a trainer about proper form and technique on dead lifts, I would suggest doing that. I would suggest finding a taller one, and one that specializes in olympic lifts (or at least, the dead lift).

    I would also suggest watching videos on how the exercise should be performed properly. This is a fairly dangerous exercise. If you lean too far forward (something easy for someone of your height to do) you place tons of stress on your lower back, even if it is quite straight. You actually want to start with your back as upright and straight as possible. This isn't incredibly practical all of the time, so you will lean forward a bit, but you definitely don't want to lean too far forward.
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    Oct 12, 2008 2:04 AM GMT
    I actually have had my form corrected. German gym employees (and Germans in general) are ever so generous when it comes to helping you follow the rules.

    I hadn't considered elevating the bar, which makes sense since it is down low I am having trouble with. We do have several Reebock steps which everyone uses in the free weight area for everything except stepping. A lot of exercise guides actually tell you to elevate yourself by using a platform. That never made sense to me and I never bothered trying.

    The smith rack was only okay. The motion was too linear and it really is fairly useless trying to get your grip right with heavier weights.
  • DuggerPDX

    Posts: 386

    Oct 12, 2008 11:11 PM GMT
    My trainer has me doing dead lifts from a stack of pads, it really has helped me develop correct form for when we go to the floor.
  • UncleverName

    Posts: 741

    Oct 13, 2008 7:24 PM GMT
    JustJohn saidI actually have had my form corrected. German gym employees (and Germans in general) are ever so generous when it comes to helping you follow the rules.


    It sounds like you've had your form corrected, but I would still suggest seeing a trainer, for at least one session. I would re-iterate that I would get one that is taller, like you, and has been doing dead lifts. Getting advice from random gym employees in any country is a bad idea, in my opinion. Run of the mill gyms, from what I've seen, are willing to hire personal trainers that have minimal training and minimal experience. They won't know anything specific to tell you. A trainer that has experience (training people and lifting) and is tall will be much more use to you than gym employees, even if they are German icon_smile.gif

    I would also strongly suggest reading Scrawny To Brawny http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com/ as well, if you can. The rest of the book you can probably skip, but the sections on tall people doing dead lifts is well worth the cost of the entire thing.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 13, 2008 8:04 PM GMT
    I alternate, from week to week with dead lifts. But when I first started I found it hard to get my back straight. I was not pushing my ass out enough. But every time I work out 3x a week. I also have my personal trainer with me, to help with the correction.