Hold a dowel down the the back of your spine, in contact with the back of your head, between your shoulder blades, and your tail bone. Maintaining flat contact on the dowel of all three points on your body, hip hinge with strict form (using your glutes to pull you out of the bottom position, as primed by the Cook Hip Lift).
Lower Back Strength
Progressive deadlifting will improve your strength in your back, but I’d also take other opportunities to build this too. Using unsupported Bent Over Rows, while maintaining a strict hip hinge position, will help build strength while also scoring your upper body pull pattern off your list.
It would be worth mentioning that you should be using a ‘bracing breath’ to help stabilise your lower back during a deadlift too. Take a diaphragmatic (intra abdominal) breath (instead of a chest breath) and hold it throughout your lift to benefit from intra abdominal pressure stabilising your lower back.
Regress the Deadlift
Picking the barbell up from the floor is likely causing you to start the lift with poor form. First, make sure you’re using at olympic diameter plates – to correctly space the bar at least 225mm (8.8″) from the floor, even for your lightest lifts.
Then I’d regress this further, by placing the loaded barbell on a stack of plates at each end, so you don’t have to start with the barbell as close to the floor. Lift and lower to rest your load on the plate stack (under each end) instead of the floor.
Start with both a barbell loading and a reduced range of motion that doesn’t give you problems. And then over the weeks, progressively reduce the amount of floor plate stack so that you get close to lifting from the floor.
Instead of a stack of plates, I use ‘crash pads’ with a lot of my face-to-face clients who struggle with a full range deadlift.
And using a Hex Bar instead of a barbell could also regress this exercise further still if required.
Generally, tidy up your hip hinge movement and regress both exercise selection and load to a point that your back will tolerate it, and progressively build back up from there.
Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.
Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.