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  1. #1
    Registered User Bl33s's Avatar
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    Deadlifting - low or high

    When deadlifting, do you keep the butt low or high? I've heard and seen many people do it differently - lots of conflicting sources (lots of threads say to keep butt low, Rippetoe and other coaches say to keep butt high). I personally feel I can pull more if my butt sinks low right before I pull.

    Butt low => feels like driving up with feet to stand up.
    Butt high => feels like pulling back to to a standing position.

    Just want to know what others do.
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  2. #2
    Registered User speedjason's Avatar
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    so you are saying butt low as in sit more back while butt high is more forward?
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  3. #3
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    keep it low unless you want to snap your back in half.
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  4. #4
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    The starting position should be whatever position allows for the right placement of the bar over the feet. From standing up straight, this is usually about an inch in front of the shins, which usually means a fairly high starting position for the bum. The lower your bum at the start, the further forward you'll have to set your knees, which pushes the bar forward, making for dodgy lifting mechanics. But whether your bum is high or low or in between when you start shouldn't be something you're really thinking about. Just set your feet at the appropriate place under the bar, bring your knees forward until they touch the bar (without pushing the bar forward), reach down until your fingers are around the bar, and set your back into neutral, abs and lumbar tight, chest up. If the bar's placed right, your shins and hands are placed right, and your back is in correct extension, your bum will be wherever it needs to be for your body's mechanics. During the deadlift, drive down with your legs, drive your hips forward and pull the bar back. So it should generally feel both like driving with your feet and pulling back, not one or the other.
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  5. #5
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    If your back is straight across / parallel to the floor it takes the leg drive out of the deadlift. What angle your back is when pulling is largely dependent on your body composition. Someone with long legs will have a much harder time keeping his ass low while keeping a straight back for example.

    The bar being over the middle of your foot dictates your leg angle touching the bar which dictates how low your hips go.
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  6. #6
    Registered User strengthgainr's Avatar
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    You always ALWAYS try to keep your butt high. Deadlifting is primarily a back exercise. The lower your butt goes, the more your shins lean forward over the bar and you end up activating your quads more as part of the movement will now resemble a form of squat.

    Also, if you keep your butt low, there will be a moment where you move your hips up before the bar actually moves. This is wasted effort.

    You have to keep your shins straight and vertical during the whole movement to say you've correctly performed a deadlift.

    Watch the top powerlifters in action. On the way up, their shins are always as close to vertical as can be. This requires your ass to be higher up.
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    Originally Posted by strengthgainr View Post
    You always ALWAYS try to keep your butt high. Deadlifting is primarily a back exercise. The lower your butt goes, the more your shins lean forward over the bar and you end up activating your quads more as part of the movement will now resemble a form of squat.

    Also, if you keep your butt low, there will be a moment where you move your hips up before the bar actually moves. This is wasted effort.

    You have to keep your shins straight and vertical during the whole movement to say you've correctly performed a deadlift.

    Watch the top powerlifters in action. On the way up, their shins are always as close to vertical as can be. This requires your ass to be higher up.
    Are you trying to put OP in intensive care? You ALWAYS want your butt low to use as much leg drive as possible. That's the foundation of a deadlift-using as much leg as possible. The entire first half of a DL is pushing with the legs. Butt-high is going to lift off with the spine, which never has a happy ending.

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    Last edited by HulkingBrute; 12-27-2012 at 02:14 AM.
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  8. #8
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    Originally Posted by HulkingBrute View Post
    Are you trying to put OP in intensive care? You ALWAYS want your butt low to use as much leg drive as possible. That's the foundation of a deadlift-using as much leg as possible. The entire first half of a DL is pushing with the legs. Butt-high is going to lift off with the spine, which never has a happy ending.
    And I'm sure Pavel Tsatsouline doesn't know what he's talking about.

    I'm not suggesting he performs the lift by pulling with his back alone. Keeping your shins straight ensures there's the correct amount of quad and ham involvement and focuses on the muscles intended to be used with the deadlift. ie the posterior chain.

    The foundation of the deadlift is not leg development. Its primary role is developing your posterior chain. If you want to develop legs, do squats.
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  9. #9
    Registered User HulkingBrute's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by strengthgainr View Post
    And I'm sure Pavel Tsatsouline doesn't know what he's talking about.

    I'm not suggesting he performs the lift by pulling with his back alone. Keeping your shins straight ensures there's the correct amount of quad and ham involvement and focuses on the muscles intended to be used with the deadlift. ie the posterior chain.

    The foundation of the deadlift is not leg development. Its primary role is developing your posterior chain. If you want to develop legs, do squats.
    I'm not saying DL is for developing legs. I agree it's for posterior chain development, after you've safely pulled the bar past your knees. You need full leg drive to get the bar past that absolutely critical space between the floor and your knees.
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  10. #10
    do you even bambiemcfly's Avatar
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    i would like some clarity on this as well. i feel that deadlifting with your butt high puts your back in a vulnerable position, however, i have also heard to keep it up, and that the first place you should feel a deadlift is at the glute/ham tie in. a slightly straighter-leg stance would ensure this... but i cant help but feel like this is what straight leg deadlifts are for.
    i have always kept my butt low, back straight, and i have a very developed back for a female, am injury-free, and feel that i am using appropriate form and body mechanics during my lifts. honestly, im afraid to try it the other way.

    wat do?
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  11. #11
    Registered User HulkingBrute's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bambiemcfly View Post
    i would like some clarity on this as well. i feel that deadlifting with your butt high puts your back in a vulnerable position, however, i have also heard to keep it up, and that the first place you should feel a deadlift is at the glute/ham tie in. a slightly straighter-leg stance would ensure this... but i cant help but feel like this is what straight leg deadlifts are for.
    i have always kept my butt low, back straight, and i have a very developed back for a female, am injury-free, and feel that i am using appropriate form and body mechanics during my lifts. honestly, im afraid to try it the other way.

    wat do?
    You keep doing what you're doing-butt low on DL's. Except for ANY other time, keep it high. Esp. in the gym, ALWAYS keep it high.
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  12. #12
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    Originally Posted by HulkingBrute View Post
    I'm not saying DL is for developing legs. I agree it's for posterior chain development, after you've safely pulled the bar past your knees. You need full leg drive to get the bar past that absolutely critical space between the floor and your knees.
    I was trying to indicate the correct starting position at the bottom of the lift. From what I've studied and practiced, the actual LIFT always starts with a higher hip position. Have a look at a some of these videos illustrating my point. Observe how when the weight gets lifted off the ground, the hips are in a high position well above the knees with the shins straight. The reason for this is that when done correctly, the lift focuses less on full leg drive (initially) and more on full activation of the posterior chain throughout the movement.

    Do have a look, these are youtube links. (can't post links yet)

    /watch?v=eOu5d7ZvmmQ - deadlift starts at 1:00
    /watch?v=bf6H8yZEozw
    /watch?v=oFmW_TUWK40

    The hips are always in a high position well above the knees. Hope that makes what I'm trying to say clearer.
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  13. #13
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    Originally Posted by Bl33s View Post
    I personally feel I can pull more if my butt sinks low right before I pull.
    If you can pull more that way, do it.

    Originally Posted by Bl33s View Post
    Butt low => feels like driving up with feet to stand up.
    Butt high => feels like pulling back to to a standing position.
    Butt low allows you to drive your feet into the ground like a half squat to get the bar to knees, then you drive your hips into the bar to finish the lift.

    You do not want butt low to mean that you get down as far as you can to squat the weight.

    If your butt is too high for YOUR structure, your legs are "athletically straight", ie knees just unlocked. So you are doing a stiff leg dead from the floor. You can't use any leg drive at all, because they are already so straight, and locking knees before the bar passes knees is asking for a round LOW back when the leverage on your lumbar spine is maximum. Bummer.

    I have to pull stiff leg deads because of knee issues. That limits poundage potential.
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  14. #14
    You are on ignore CookAndrewB's Avatar
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    There really isn't going to be a "right" answer here. As King put it, how you are built (specifically lever lengths in the thigh and spine, "long legs" or "long torso") will really dictate how you pull. In order to figure out where your hips should start, the best test is to get set up to pull like you normally do, and then see where your hips end up when you actually break the bar from the ground. If you start your pull by dropping/raising your hips, then try to get in a position where that initial "easter egging" doesn't happen. Hunting for that sweet spot is a good indicator that you aren't as tight as you could be. Here is a great example of a deadlifter that knows where his hips should be. I competed against Orlando in a strongman comp in WV a few years back and he destroyed everyone on the deadlift event.




    As far as pulling with your hips high being bad for your lower back, that is completely false. Some of the best pullers in the world (including Mr. Green above) pull this way completely injury free.
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    Originally Posted by CookAndrewB View Post
    There really isn't going to be a "right" answer here. As King put it, how you are built (specifically lever lengths in the thigh and spine, "long legs" or "long torso") will really dictate how you pull. In order to figure out where your hips should start, the best test is to get set up to pull like you normally do, and then see where your hips end up when you actually break the bar from the ground. If you start your pull by dropping/raising your hips, then try to get in a position where that initial "easter egging" doesn't happen. Hunting for that sweet spot is a good indicator that you aren't as tight as you could be. Here is a great example of a deadlifter that knows where his hips should be. I competed against Orlando in a strongman comp in WV a few years back and he destroyed everyone on the deadlift event.




    As far as pulling with your hips high being bad for your lower back, that is completely false. Some of the best pullers in the world (including Mr. Green above) pull this way completely injury free.
    good info to know. i think i have a slightly raised back end when starting my deads, i've tried starting with my ass lower but i just can't seem to get the weight moving as strongly.
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    Originally Posted by CookAndrewB View Post

    ^^^^ Wow! Best example of the "Grip it and Rip it" style of pulling I've seen in a while!


    As far as pulling with your hips high being bad for your lower back, that is completely false. Some of the best pullers in the world (including Mr. Green above) pull this way completely injury free.
    ^^^^ This.

    It's incorrect to state absolutely that a certain form variance is wrong for everyone. Some guys are just naturally going to be high-hip pullers and they'll probably never change, nor should they.

    What's more important is to not allow the lower back to round over.
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  17. #17
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    I always try to avoid black and white scenarios but it's more common to see strong pullers using a higher hip position. If you really like low consider switching to sumo as this setup has a mechanical advantage for pulling that way (usually).
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    It's been mentioned a few times already, but this is really something that seems more dependent on body composition and height than anything else. I'm 6'4 and I have to get my butt down pretty damned low in order to avoid bending at the waist to grab the bar and rounding my lower back. I imagine taller people like myself end up dropping their butts down in order to keep their backs safe and avoid taking that trip to snap city.
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    Encyclochuzzle chazzy1864's Avatar
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    Both are valid. Generally your body's dimensions/proportions will dictate what you are better suited for.

    Your training goals will ultimately decide.
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    Alchemist of Alcohol
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    Journal: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=126418493
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