Q & A: How can I stop using my low back during deadlifts?

“James,I just finished phase 2 of your program and I am very happy with the results. Thanks to your program, small modifications in my diet and the addition of a post-work drink I have manage to lose ~8lbs while seeing considerable gains in strength and overall performance in the gym. Unfortunuately, I live in Madison, WI and sub-arctic temps have kept me off the bike. It will be quite a while before I can tell you how much the program improved my riding.

Overall, the program has uncovered one big flaw, my weak hips. I definitely fit the description of the overpowered athlete. The program has taught me that my strong quads compensate for my ridicously weak hips. For example, completing a single pistol leg squat is next to impossible for me. As I enter phase 3 of the program is there anything I can do to correct the strength disparity? As I learn to perform some of the hip dominant and power excercises, I find that I recruit my quads and low back into the excercises. Despite my best efforts with excercises such as the deadlift, my low back often feels more worked than my glutes.

Any suggestions?”




I was listening to a podcast with Gray Cook on it and he said something very profound (which he does every time I hear him) – “You can’t lay fitness on top of disfunction and hope for good results”.

You’ve discovered a disfunction in your hips and taking care of that dysfunction is your top priority. What I mean by that is that if you need to just use bodyweight and a broomstick on an exercise like the deadlifts in order to get the feeling of using your hips down then that is what you should do.

When you do the deadlift it is extremly important to drive your heels into the ground. Don’t stand up, try to push the earth away from you. And be sure to squeeze your glutes tight at the top. There is a big difference between squeezing your glutes and pushing your hips back under you and just leaning back into the top of the deadlift. If you are not squeezing your glutes then you will use your lower back.

Perfect this technique with little to no weight and you’ll be far better off in the long run. Don’t worry that you need to lift a certain amount of weight to see results, that will come later.

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

The Ultimate MTB Workout Program

The Ultimate MTB Workout ProgramThis workout program is designed with one simple purpose – to be the best mountain bike training program on the planet. When you are ready to take your training program to the highest level possible then you can’t do better than this workout program. Based on my years of working with some of the best riders on the planet, this truly is the Ultimate MTB Workout Program.
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  1. Tom says:

    I’ve also had major hip dysfunction and in the course of managing it I found some stuff by Tony Gentilcore

    Have a look for his site and sign up to his newsletter to get a copy of his “pick things up” deadlift tutorial / video

    If you still have trouble then some of the Kelly Starrett exercises may help you loosen off your hips enough (or find a good Physio to help you who gets the Ron Hruska PRI stuff)

    Reply • November 11 at 3:36 pm
    • admin says:

      Thanks for sharing these suggestions, Tom. Glad to hear that these worked for you.

      Reply • November 12 at 12:24 pm
  2. Tom says:

    Btw – I don’t know the people involved or make money off their business. It just helped me – you might find it to be different

    Reply • November 11 at 3:37 pm

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