Issues maintaining flat lower back when lifting

Hey there,

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been using a local crossfit gym. Love the place, great atmosphere and coaches. I also feel heaps stronger (body wise) on and off the bike.

One thing that bugs and frustrates me to to no end is that I am unable to maintain a flat lower back when lifting. What I mean by that is that a bit where you’re supposed to stick your bum out, does not happen. Result is that I am limited in my progress of adding more weight.

I was advised to use exercises, such as “cats & cows”, etc, but that did not make any difference, even after several month of doing so.

Just wondering if any of you have had the same experience and how you’ve managed to overcome it.

Cheers and ride on!

Does it feel like you’re physically unable to keep a neutral back or is it just muscular? One thing that works for me is to pretend like my core is a weight belt that tightens as I engage the lift.

Assume when you’re squatting or deadlifting?

Are you able to perform the movement with a straight or slightly arched lower back unweighted?

If you can, it’s a muscular weakness. Need supplemental strength work, supermans, if you have access to a reverse hyper that would be perfect but they’re rare. Heavy carries with good posture might help, anything to strengthen your core.

If you can’t get into the position at all it’s a mobility issue. Your hips are probably too tight, so you’re looking to your lower back to compensate. Try getting into a pigeon pose, except keep your upper body slightly raised. Take a deep breath and push hard through the forward leg into the ground, count to five then release it and sink into your hips. Repeat for two minutes a side then retry the position.

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This is pretty much it, thanks!

Pigeon pose is a good one to do. My issue however is that I am still recovering from a disc bulge injury, which means that I get pains in that area whenever I try to open up the hips that way.

Deload your weight and progress back up to where you are now so you can work out those weaker links. With deads, if you can’t lift correctly dont worry about progressing. Deload so it takes about a month to work back up to your current weight.

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Ah, ok. Well if you have a disc bulge that’s an injury you have to take care of.

I wouldn’t be loading that at all then, or at least be careful doing it. Belt squats are a way to do some of the same stuff without loading the back. You basically stand on two raised platforms with weight slung between your legs using the same belt you would use to do loaded pullups and squat. Or single leg stuff.

Google Ben Bruno, he’s a trainer with a back issue who focuses on strength training around issues like that.

Good luck.

Hamstrings, Glutes, Hip Flexors.
Get stretching.

If you’re dealing with disc bulge you really need to be prioritizing form over weight. It may mean you’re deadlifting from blocks to avoid having to go all the way to the floor if you’re hamstrings won’t allow for it. But work on the mobility and range of motion will come with 30 days proper care and attention.

Not to plug anything, and you can find a free alternative to this easily on youtube, but something like ROMWOD might be worth doing for a bit just to work through things.

Consider working on your breathing and bracing technique while lifting. Check out the Juggernaut Training Systems videos on Youtube for an in-depth guide to the main lifts.

Same here. I’m super tight in my hamstrings, glutes, and low back. Been that way for a long time so I have to be really careful when doing any lift that needs a flat back. Almost every time I get cocky and increase weight in these kinds of lifts I start to run into trouble. I’ve tweaked my low back more times then I care to admit doing this. I keep the weight low especially when doing high rep sets so I can focus entirely on technique. It takes a ton of concentration for me to stay in the right position and as soon as I start to fatigue the technique goes out the window.

I’d suggest keeping the weight very low if doing high reps and then on low rep/heavier days be very carful and don’t be afraid to pull the plug on the lift if your not confident in your technique.

Thanks tons, folks. Much appreciated!

No issues for me doing back squats at the moment where I can “easily” squat my own weight 5 times (62 kilos).

As for dead lifts, I’ll continue putting thick plates under the bar and stick to lower weights until my technique improves. Thank gods for being able to film myself while doing so!