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Sumo vs. Conventional Deadlift?!

Have you ever wondered why we always lift with our hands outside our legs?

When we pick up objects from the floor to the hip (deadlift it), we can pick it up safely two ways:

  1. Conventionally – Keeping our hands outside of our legs to pick up the object.
  2. Sumo – Standing wider and keeping our hands inside our stance to pick up the object.

If you look up deadlift world records you’ll see a pretty solid mix of athletes hitting both types of deadlifts. In-fact, one of the foundational movements of CrossFit is the Sumo Deadlift High-Pull. Yet, in our gym, you won’t catch a coach teaching sumo very often in our gym.

Why?

Sumo Deadlift Has Its’ Perks!!

When an athlete performs a sumo deadlift in powerlifting (finding a max in a single day for your bench/shoulder press, deadlift, and back squat), they are doing it for a mechanical advantage.

When we stand wider, we actually shorten the distance we have to move the bar. If an athlete has long femurs, short tibias, and long arms, the difference in weight lifted over conventional can be quite substantial (10%+ for some athletes)!

The reason not every power lifter pulls like this, is that it doesn’t fully engage the hamstrings, rather if focuses a bit more on the hips to provide the leverage, something that can be a problem for athletes that are proportioned better to squat (short femur, long tibia, and short arms).

This overuse of the hips while still activating the hamstrings enough is why the sumo deadlift also has a great spot in bodybuilding routines as well!

The Issue We Have For Our Gym and Doing Sumo Deadlifts?

While there are a good many of us that would most likely deadlift more weight in sumo, being the world’s best deadlifter isn’t our goal!

Rather, we want to be able to olympic weightlift well!

In order to do cleans and snatches, our hands HAVE to be outside of our legs. If we didn’t place the hands outside, we wouldn’t have proper contact and would CONSTANTLY pop our hands open when we pop that barbell.

So, the deadlift becomes less of an expression of our strength and more of a tool to build our posterior chain so that we can perform the other movements we do better!

After-all, a higher 1 RM deadlift translates quite well to our theoretical 1 RM Cleans and Snatches (although our Front Squats and Overhead Squats are better indicators of limitations in those lifts respectively).

A Friendly Tip To Improve What You Get Out Of Your Deadlift?

When we deadlift, especially from dead-stop or deficit. You should view your lift like you are gonna lift through your hip and move with braced speed. If you’re moving slow and grinding through each of the lifts this cycle, you’re no getting the most out of training the deadlift. You should be exploding off the floor!

If you get the intention that you’re gonna push away the earth and explode that bar to and through your hip, your deadlift numbers will go up AND you’ll get a nice effect on all these power cleans we are doing this cycle!

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