Written by Chad Wesley Smith
These are the critical aspects of Sumo Deadlift technique to focus on.
The start position of the Sumo Deadlift requires great mobility and the precision of this position can set you up for a successful lift or doom you before you’ve even begun.
#1-Toe Angle Determines Mobility and Balance
The further out your toes point during the Sumo Deadlift setup the wider stance you’ll likely able to achieve and more you’ll be able to open your hips. This is not without drawbacks though as the further your toes point outwards the less stability and balance you’ll have throughout the lift.
#2-Knees Over Ankles
While you can certainly find examples of excellent lifters who don’t follow this idea, it is a good starting point for newer lifters to try to stack their knee directly over their ankle when they address the bar. This position is stable, balanced and allows you to deliver efficient power through the floor.
#3-Hips Over The Bar
The closer your hips can be to the bar on a horizontal plane, the stronger and more efficient your deadlift will be. While this position may not allow you to feel particularly explosive initiating the lift from the floor, it will help you be in a better position to lock out a heavy weight.
#4-The More Upright Your Torso, The Better
Your ability to achieve a very upright torso during the start of the Sumo Deadlift will largely be determined by your limb proportion and flexibility. Even if you don’t have the best proportions for a totally upright torso like you see in the World’s strongest pullers, trying to get as upright as you can will be an important step to improving your technique.
The initial pull of the Sumo Deadlift requires great patience to keep you in the right position to lockout a heavy weight.
#1-Circumferential Expansion Through The Torso
Creating as much pressure as possible in all directions through your abs, obliques and lower back will be key to being able to maintain your positions through a heavy, and possibly slow, start to the Sumo Deadlift.
#2-Protect Your Armpits To Engage Your Lats
While keeping your arms long and shoulders relaxed, try to squeeze your triceps against your lats, as if you’re trying to stop someone from tickling your armpits. This will help you have a rigid torso that will transfer power from your lower body, into the bar.
#3-Patience, Patience, Patience
Exhibiting patience in the start of the Sumo Deadlift will allow you to make the final small adjustments for the best start position possible. As you begin to put tension into the bar with your lats and abs, focus on driving your chest tall and allowing your hips to shift slightly more over the bar before initiating the drive with your legs. Even if the bar moves very slowly from the floor, a slow movement that keeps you in the best position for a successful lockout, is better than an explosive movement that causes your hips to be out of position for lockout.
There is nothing more frustrating than missing a Deadlift just shy of lockout. Save yourself from that stress by following these tips.
#1-Initiate The Lockout Early
You should begin the action to lockout your Deadlift when the bar reaches the bottom of your knees, for the Sumo Puller this will feel like the bar has just begun to move. Often, lifters will let the bar be too high on their thighs when they begin to lockout and this causes them to have to pull the farther farther than necessary or ramp the bar up their thighs. The intent to lockout early will help you have a compact and efficient finish to your Sumo Deadlift.
#2-Relaxed Arms and Shoulders
Fight the urge to pull on the bar hard with your arms or shrug against the weight. Staying relaxed through your arms and shoulders will help your arms stay as long as possible and minimize the distance you have to pull.
#3-Stand Tall To Make Hips Meet the Bar
Many lifters have a tendency to lean backwards during their lockout but this can lead to a compromised position for the low bar or a rebend of the knees, causing a missed lift. Drive your hips to meet the bar by flexing your glutes and then stand tall with your quads and glutes flexed at lockout.