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Default Deadlifts - Sumo Style
by BendtheBar 01-27-2012, 01:54 PM









Deadlifts - Sumo Style
by Hollie Evett (1980)


In my opinion, the wide stance or sumo style deadlift is the most efficient way to deadlift. I wish to discuss why it is so efficient.

Some of the points are:

1.) Shorter stroke than the conventional deadlift.
2.) Sumo style takes advantage of tremendous hip and leg power.
3.) Hands placed on the inside of the legs allow for the bar to be closer to the major fulcrums, which are the gluteus and upper thigh.
4.) By using the sumo style, full advantage is taken of all the time spent squatting. Squats are the most important assistance exercise for the wide stance deadlift.

In understanding the proper forms of the sumo style, it is important to know the major fulcrum part. They are ankles, knees, hips, gluteus, lower and possibly upper back. To take advantage of the sumo style, it is important to use all of the muscles and fulcrum points together and at the same time. If this is done properly it can result in a very explosive and smooth lift. If the muscles are developed properly and proper form is maintained, there should not be a specific strain on any one muscle group.

An important factor is to deadlift in a flat foot or flat soled shoe. Weight should be distributed in the mid-sole area when starting the lift. If heels are used there will be a tendency to throw the hips up and shoulders forward. This will result in the bar getting out in front of the legs and away from the main fulcrum area.

Hand spacing is important, too. If the hands are too narrow the shoulders tend to squeeze together, thus binding the trapezius muscles. I the grip is too wide, it means the bar will have to be lifted higher to finish the lift.

The best way to find your hand spacing is to stand in front of a mirror, make a fist, hands down at the side, knuckles toward mirror. Move the hands out and into the side. Notice that their is a point where the hands hang the lowest. This probably would be the most efficient spacing for you (see top photo).

Foot spacing is variable but several factors should be kept in mind. The wider the stance, the shorter and slower the stroke. It is a little more difficult to maintain balance at the top or finish. A narrower stance will be more explosive but it will be a longer stance.

I prefer basically the same heel stance as my squat, with my toes pointed out slightly more than when squatting. The toes being pointed out is important for efficient form. This allows the lift to be started and maintained with the weight in the middle of the sole of the feet. It also allows for the bar to be kept in close inside the legs when deadlifting. Remember the factor, to stay close to the fulcrum.

With proper foot spacing and toes spread apart further than the heels, it gives more time to think of the involvement of the legs. Most people try to lift with their frontal thighs. This is not entirely correct. Much of the power is generated by the adductor or groin muscle. This is important because the knees must remain spread apart so the hands, arms and bar can remain close to the fulcrum.

It is important to have the hips down, back arched, stomach tight and arms straight when starting the deadlift. If this is not done, the explosiveness at the start of the deadlift is lost. The above body parts, if not in proper position, will act as a shock absorber and reduce the momentum that is applied to the bar.

It is not necessary to put the hips down excessively. Remember, the legs are stronger in a half-squat position than below parallel.

The sequence of the sumo deadlift would be:

1.) A visual picture is made of form, explosiveness and completion of the lift before the bar is touched;

2.) The var is touched to the shins (toes spread apart) in proper stance;

3.) The bar is torqued and squeezed for the grip;

4.) Hips are cocked down with back arched, stomach tight, shoulders back, arms ;

5.) As soon as the hips are cocked down and explosion erupts (remember the reformed effect).

The feet are pushed through the floor, inside top legs squeezed together (adducted) and pulled at the same time.

The bar will travel in a straight line from the floor to the completion of the lift.

Usually sumo deadlifts with heavy weights are better to do as singles than as repetitions. This makes it easier to concentrate on explosiveness and form. If repetitions are done the first rep has good form and then the form gets progressively worse as more repetitions are done.

Muscles can be developed and strengthened through a variety of assistance work. Some of the favorites are? bent knee situps, shrugs, leg presses, calf work, hyperextensions, lat rows, grip work, isometrics and self hypnosis.

I would like to elaborate on a favorite of mine. This exercise can be done with weight of with the isokinetic power rack. If a weight is used it can not be so heavy that form is lost. The exercise is done doing the deadlift from the floor to knees and back down. This exercise works the adductors and helps prevent a groin injury. It is also an excellent time to practice explosiveness.

The advantage to the isokinetic power rack is that heavier resistance can be used with strict form. The reason for this is that the principal of isokinetics is that the resistance accommodates the force applied. Thus, there can be a maximum resistance throughout any range of motion either long or short.

I would like to make a couple of minor observations: Straps are extremely valuable as they allow for total concentration on explosiveness without fear of losing the grip. If this is done, a little extra work on the grip is necessary. If straps are used in a workout, they should not be used until they are necessary because the arms need conditioning for the reverse grip. This minor thing could prevent a biceps pull on the arm that is reversed during a meet.

It is a good idea to keep the fingernails cut and callouses filed down. A pumice stone can be purchased and is excellent for callous removal.
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Old 01-27-2012, 02:05 PM   #2
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I am going to try this method on my next wave to see how I like it. Thanks for posting it.
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Old 01-27-2012, 02:46 PM   #3
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You bet. Love finding these old articles.
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Old 02-20-2012, 03:23 PM   #4
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Great read.

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Old 02-20-2012, 04:31 PM   #5
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One issue I get with sumo deads when I just back in is knee tweaks. They seem to go away as I slowly build strength. I am not sure what the cause is...form, weakness or both.
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:40 PM   #6
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I would experiment with turning your toes way out Btb, from what I recall you have relatively long femurs and the Sumo lift is no different to a Squat; it requires your toes to track correctly over knees or there will be issues. It really is good to consider it more of a Squat with the bar in your hands, rather than a conventional pull.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:23 PM   #7
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I'll play with it a bit. I have them about 45 degrees of so but I know something's not right.
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