Tech Corner: Sumo Deadlift

Part 4 of the Tech Corner series covering the best things to correct in your sumo or hybrid deadlift, including how to individualize your form.

Continuing with our Tech Corner Series so far, we will be covering the key coaching ideas in the conventional deadlift. If you haven’t already seen our Conventional Deadlift, Bench Press, or Squat editions, click on the hyperlinks to check ’em out!

The 3 coaching points specific to the sumo deadlift are: matching the stance to the hips, tracking knees properly, and the timing of the pull.

 1) Hip Mobility and Stance Width.

Similarly to the conventional deadlift, with a fixed range of motion (standard diameter plates) a certain amount of hip mobility is required. As there are many ways to get to the bar, you can adjust your stance width accordingly to allow for the most comfortable and efficient form that your hip structure allows for.

The frog test is a simple assessment to check what foot spacing works best for you. You might have to play around with exactly how far apart your knees are, but this can save a lot of time in determining where to start with your sumo pull. On top of keeping a neutral spine in the test, make sure you can still breathe, brace, and create appropriate pressure in the position.

Frog Stretch - Stronger You PT
Frog Stretch

2) Knee Tracking

Once stance has been set, the next piece we look at is the position of the knees. Generally in the sumo deadlift, they should track directly over the ankles when viewed from any angle. In the hybrid deadlift, the knees should still track over the feet, but can move forwards more over the midfoot or even toes, depending on the lifter’s femur length.

Deadlift Knees - Stronger You Personal Training

3) Timing The Pull

Finally, the timing of the lift is one of the most crucial elements to the proper execution of a sumo pull. A sumo deadlift is NOT a wide stance conventional deadlift. Where a conventional deadlift involves a push with the legs from the floor, then a pull with the posterior chain muscles to finish, the sumo is a simultaneous push and pull in order to keep the bar close to the body and keep the torso angle stable.

Often times with lifters who are new to sumo deadlift, or lifters who are using a stance that is too wide, we will see the lifters start with the hips too high as the bar leaves the ground, which then leaves them stuck “pulling” for the remainder of the lift without their legs to help “push”. Tempo sumo deadlifts are a great too at teaching the lifter to maintain the simultaneous push/pull as it is the most efficient way to lift the bar with good mechanics.

Implementing these 3 items into your sumo or hybrid deadlifts should do wonders for cleaning up technique. Initially, it might take a small step back in weights to properly correct your form, but it will pay off with a much stronger deadlift in the long run.