The Sumo deadlift is a great variation of our conventional deadlift, which has some specific advantages for certain people.
During the sumo deadlift the body remains in a more upright position, which means there’s less load being placed on the lower back than in a traditional deadlift. The sheer forces throughout the lumber spine are significantly lower, making the sumo variation a great selection for anyone with lower back issues, or novice lifters who are new to the movement pattern and loading of a conventional deadlift (which is one of the most taxing lifts on the body). For this same reason, sumo deadlifts are also a good option for people who have mobility limitations and cannot get into a conventional deadlift position easily.
Bringing our feet out in a wider stance and marginally abducting the hips, with our toes slightly turned out, allows us to create more rotation through the hips, meaning that getting into the bottom position, and maintaining a neutral spine is more achievable, without the back rounding out. It is important however, that the foot position is still narrow enough to create optimal force against the ground when we lift, so it should not be so wide it looks like you’re doing the splits!
Structurally, if you do have hips that are retroverted, or externally rotated, the sumo stance will be a bit more natural for you. This wider stance also means the starting point is slightly lower to the ground, therefore the bar does not travel as much distance up the body as it does in a conventional lift, essentially meaning there is less work necessary to reach a lock out position.
Another point of difference between the traditional deadlift and the sumo variation is each lift works slightly different musculature. As mentioned earlier, the conventional deadlift placed more emphasis on the back, and also the spinal erector muscles. During a sumo deadlift however, some of this load if shifted more into the glutes, hamstrings, hips, and even the upper traps.
Finally, the sumo deadlift can be used as a regression exercise, as it requires a lot less ankle and hip mobility to execute correctly, and it is easier to keep the bar close to the body and towards the center of gravity. These are two crucial parts of the conventional deadlift, so training sumo stance can certainly help improve those aspects of the lift.
Add this variation of the deadlift to your training and see the benefits that it brings to your other lifts just like your conventional deadlift and squat.
See you in the gym!
Kate ‘I could deadlift all day’ Bethune
Do you deadlift? It can be an intimidating exercise, and one when not done right can cause more harm then good. But done well it is one of the most effective movements one can do. If you need help with your deadlift then why not click on the link below to register for your free two week trial at your closest RBT