Comparing Sumo And Conventional Deadlifts

Comparing Sumo And Conventional Deadlifts

Updated January 20, 2021

The deadlift may just be the most underrated exercise on the planet, no exercise works as many muscle groups at once, and no exercise has as many carryovers to real life. The young, the old, the strong, and the weak should all be learning how to deadlift properly…then back pain would be a thing of the past!

There are many deadlift variations out there, but the two most important ones are the conventional deadlift and the sumo deadlift. In this article we will be comparing sumo and conventional deadlifts and helping you to decide which exercise is the right fit for you (the answer is both!).

Comparing Sumo And Conventional Deadlifts

Benefits of Deadlifting

The deadlift works your hamstrings, glutes, lower back, abdominals, lats, traps, biceps, and can also strengthen your grip strength. It is also the exercise that allows you to lift the most weight possible. This means that more testosterone and growth hormone are going to be released post-exercise, enhancing strength gains and helping you burn more fat.

Another benefit of deadlifts is to protect your back and teach you how to lift heavy items safely. Companies should stop bothering with their health and safety classes on lifting heavy items, and instead should invest in a deadlift coach, because once you know how to deadlift correctly, you will never lift anything badly again!

The Conventional Deadlift

arnold deadlift

How to Perform: Grab a barbell and place a weighted plate on either side, this will raise the bar off the floor. Ideally you want Olympic plates as these are the perfect height. Place your feet under the bar so that where your laces are tied (middle of your foot) is directly under the bar. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and toes should be facing forward or slightly outward.

Push your knees forward until your shins touch the bar and then grab the bar (overhand) on either side of your knees. Now push your chest forward and draw your shoulders back until your back is straight. Take a deep breath and hold it, then pull the weight up while pushing your hips forward while breathing out. Your arms should remain straight throughout. Pause at the top of the movement and then return to the starting position by pushing your hips back and maintaining that flat back.

The Sumo Deadlift

sumo deadlift

Set up the bar in the same way as you would for a conventional deadlift, using Olympic plates if possible. Now, take a wide stance and turn your toes out so they are almost facing the plates. Push your quads out and avoid pushing your hips back like you would when setting up for a conventional deadlift, so that you are much more upright.

Your grip of the bar should be slightly narrower than a conventional deadlift, but not too much. This is a common mistake. Hold a normal grip and then shuffle your hands slightly narrower. Simple.

Perform the deadlift in exactly the same way for conventional and sumo, the sumo stance will be more upright and just keep your hips raised so that it is NOT a squat.

Comparing Sumo and Conventional Deadlifts

The main difference between the two deadlifts is that sumo deadlifts have a much shorter range of motion, this is because your legs are spread so far apart. Most people will be able to lift more performing a sumo deadlift than a conventional deadlift, once they have mastered both techniques.

The sumo deadlift is also a little easier on the back, with less force travelling through the spine. Guys/girls with longer legs will probably find sumo deadlifts a lot easier.

When comparing sumo and conventional deadlifts it is important to stress that neither is better than the other, they are both very effective. Most lifters should try to incorporate both into their training, but try out both and decide for yourself whether you have a preferred option.

Do you prefer conventional or sumo deadlifts? Let us know in the comments below!


The author

Steve Shaw
Steve Shaw is the original founder of Muscle and Brawn, an experienced powerlifter with over 31 years experience pumping iron. During competition he’s recorded a 602.5lb squat, 672.5lb deadlift and a 382.5lb bench press.

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