dangreenpowerlifter- How do you deadlift 900 lbs without a belt? You bend your back... but not your lower back. People ask me frequently for a side view of my deadlift for a better understanding of my technique. Here it is (photos courtesy of @quadslikerobb) and here’s my take on my form: In frame 1 you’ll see the back is straight and tense, pulling the bar towards my shins, which are pushed forward with the knees over the bar. This action of pulling the bar toward me (horizontally) is the most important function of the lats and upper back throughout the lift—if the bar stays close to your legs it keeps the legs, hips and lower back loaded efficiently. If the lats allow the weight to drift away the lower back works inefficiently. Also notice that the shoulder blades are behind the bar. The shoulder blades must be directly over a heavy weight in order to lift it. For reference look where the armpit is—since it is behind the bar in the first frame this is simply a mechanism of loading tension before the lift breaks the floor. This will eliminate uncontrollable bar whip from abruptly yanking the bar off the floor. As you go from frame 1 to 2 to 3 you see the armpits finally fix above the bar and the weight can break the floor. In order to create the power to budge 900 lbs however, my hips must rise to a significantly higher position where my quads (one which was surgically reattached to my knee cap last year) will have the leverage to move the weight. I’m 70” tall with a 71” wingspan, so in order to achieve this hip position with my proportionally average length arms, a high degree of spinal flexion is required. And this ability to bend the back, stand up and then straighten it back out is precisely where the complexity arises in the deadlift! Most people understand that rounding the lower back is potentially dangerous while under load and I would agree. What is largely misunderstood is that the same combination of spinal flexion and compression does not pose nearly the same risk of injury to the mid and upper back (thoracic spine) as the orientation of the ligaments of this part of the spine are aligned in a manner that stabilize the spine against the shearing forces that are present during loaded flexion (think of one vertebrae sliding forward relative to the vertebrae below it). Suffice to say it’s ok to round the mid and upper back, but it is not ok to round the lower back more than a little. From frame 3 to 4 to 5 the flexion of the spine has continued to increase as the hips and knees have begun extending. Tolerating this much flexion in the upper back while keeping 900 lbs right against the legs comes from the strength, mass and flexibility of the erectors, traps and especially lats. Doing it while keeping the lumbar spine relatively neutral is lower back, obliques, abs—core strength. Once all that flexion has been stabilized, the hamstrings are responsible for extending the hips. From frame 6 on the entire musculature of the back, glutes and hamstrings extend the hips and back. Also, executing the final pull while keeping the shoulders over the weight and standing straight up allows the quads to stay engaged all the way through to lockout—no hitching required. Finally in frames 8 and 9 the shoulders pull back behind the bar to lockout! So the question is: how do YOU bend your back?