Fixing Loss of Lumbar in the Deadlift

The deadlift is a great exercise¬†for overall strength and transfers to a great deal of other movements and exercises. It can get a bad rap for being “dangerous” which is why form is critical. But how do we fix bad form?

When you look at the spine, the thoracic (upper back) has a natural kyphotic curve to it while the lumbar has a natural lordotic curve to it. In the case of an athlete’s shoulders leaning forward with a curved upper back, some would argue this is bad, while others would actually encourage this for competition since it allows the bar to stay lower to the ground. The reason some people are ok with it is that it is just an exaggeration of the kyphotic curve that is already in place. For the record, I coach new athletes to keep everything tight and as neutral as possible.

While kyphosis in the upper back is a debatable topic, kyphosis in the lower back (lumbar) is a more black and white issue. In a deadlift, if an athlete’s spine is curving in the opposite direction that is natural, we need to fix this.

Here’s an example of Brian, who was doing a deadlift workout – you can clearly see the change in lumbar as he initiates the deadlift. I believe this was 275#.

Most people would think it was the weight that was the issue. While this is partly true, I had him drop the weight to 135# and he STILL had this loss of lumbar. (no video of that unfortunately) So then I had him slow the movement down to 50% and this is what happened:


Still can work on it, but incredibly different than before. If I were doing a full PT with him, I’d have Brian add a little weight (20#) and have him deadlift at the same speed. If mechanics were faulty, we’d drop weight and/or slow it down even more. Because of the TUT (time under tension) with slower speeds, it makes sense to do slow reps at lower weight. Then we would play with different combinations of speed/weight/form to find a balance and promote positional and neurological strength.

Sometimes it’s not the weight, but rather the speed that we need to slow down. CrossFit is great because of the high intensity workouts, but there are two prerequisites to Intensity – Mechanics and Consistency. (for those of you old enough, remember¬†MCI phone service??) Show me you can do a movement well, then show me you can be consistent with it. THEN we can do it at high intensity.



CrossFit Regional: Rules Clarification and Comparison Videos

This first video has made the rounds today, so I’m curious as to what you think. To see some context, check out the other videos of Ryan Fischer actually performing the “no reps” and then another video of Austin Malleolo doing the same workout in a different Regional competition.

Dave Castro reprimands Ryan Fischer at 2013 SoCal Regionals:

Ryan Fischer “no reps” at 2013 SoCal Regionals:

Austin Malleolo performs WOD 5 at Northeast Regionals:

Having been a judge at the Regional level, I can attest to the fact that it is a hard and unforgiving job. Looking at Ryan’s reps (regardless of Austin’s video) I thought they were good reps. HOWEVER, I can see where the judge is coming from since it’s such a thin line between what a bounce is and what it is not. The fact is that the judge made a call. Saying you’re going to bleeping kill someone is a pretty serious thing to say in my book. I can understand that Fischer is competitive and wants to win. I could even understand if he put up an argument. But to say what he did takes it to a whole new level. Security should have gotten involved and he should have been tossed. Anyone in any other sport that says that to a ref gets a red card, suspension, and probably fined.  This reminded me of Ronnie Teasdale’s behavior at the OC Throwdown:

Castro on the other hand should have handled this behind closed doors. I don’t think it was professional nor necessary to call him out in front of other people, let alone make it a feature video on the CrossFit Games website. You want to send a message to the other competitors and future Regionals? Fine, kick him out and explain why. Release a press statement. But don’t resort to embarrassing him in front of his peers. Plus assigning him one judge who JUST so happens to be an MMA/UFC fighter…Trying to send a message much?


BarBelles – Calories as Fuel

I am in the middle of my Broad Street Run recap, but need a little more time on it. For now, I just wanted to relay a discussion I had with the BarBelles tonight.


One of them commented on the fact that even though she’s eating a LOT more, her clothes are looser, she’s getting compliments from her coworkers, and when she stepped on the scale, she lost 3 pounds. Wait, so strength training doesn’t make women big and bulky?? You don’t say…. While I don’t care for the scale that much, I’m not surprised at what’s going on. And neither were the other ladies. All of them were talking about being hungrier than usual and eating everything in sight!

Strength training, while not giving that “runners high” after a 30 minute metcon, does work large muscle groups that crave energy. You might know them as calories. Here is what I wrote to the group:

Calories matter. But in a good way. You need to think of food as fuel and considering the fact that you are doing a great deal of strength work which utilizes big muscle groups, your engines are running at full steam even though you don’t realize it. Fuel that engine. Eat based on how you feel, not based on what you think society or an app tells you. For purposes of this program, I would rather you eat too much and feel satisfied rather than feel hungry. Trust me, it is very hard to eat too much to the point of detriment unless the quality is crappy. Keep the quality of food high, avoid gluten, and all will be well.

like MyFitnessPal as an app and website to easily total up macros and nutrients, but it is insane how it expects people to eat the same exact amount of calories per day (especially for women: a measly 1200-1600 calories!) I am here to tell you that everybody is different because every BODY is different. And so are your activities.

My ladies who are working large muscle groups and sprinting are going to eat very differently than a 300lb. male who works at a desk and sits on a couch at home. One of the girls from the last cohort was eating upwards of 2600 calories per day and is extremely lean. Of course genetics has a part in all of this, but we cannot discount what our bodies are telling us. I consistently see people (men AND women) who squat, deadlift, press, sprint, etc. need to eat more.