Technique Tuesday – Fix your sumo deadlift

The deadlift. A dreaded and feared exercise for so many. The hip hinge, the posture, foot position, grip, so many little details in such a simple lift. All you have to do is pick that weight up off the floor, yet you’re stuck at a certain weight or every damn time you deadlift you feel like your back is going to break in half. Well hopefully this article and the video at the end will help you…

First and foremost, sumo is NOT cheating!!! Anyone who says sumo is cheating either can’t do it right or has never even tried!

Most common mistakes people make on sumo…

  • Stance…usually too narrow
  • Knees…failing to push the knees out allows them to cave in
  • Sit…not sitting back
  • Feet…pointing toes forward not being toes out
  • Pushing out…not pushing out through the feet
  • Hips…not pushing the hips forward after the bar comes past the knees
  • Patience…not being patient in the bottom

How to address these issues…

  • Stance too narrow. We see this all the time, the simple way to check is to setup in front of a mirror and make sure when you sit all the way down in your start position your shins should be perfectly upright or at a tiny outward angle. If your shins are at an inward angle at the bottom of your starting position (your knees are out further than your feet your shin is angled back down) then just widen out until your shins are straight up and down.
  • Knees caving in. Well this is usually just a cue we have to yell at people, to push their knees out, once you hear the cue and think about it you will usually fix the problem. But if your stance is actually too wide this may happen and no matter how hard you push those knees out they still cave in, go back to the mirror and check the angle of your shins. And push your knees out!
  • Sit back. This is a simple cue. We see this a lot in sumo, people don’t sit back enough, especially taller lifters. Deadlift comes down to leverage, if you can sit back you will have more leverage. Sitting back on sumo also allows lifters who are more quad dominant to use the stronger part of their legs.
  • Feet. This is a simple one. A lot of people who switch over from conventional to sumo often do not toe out enough on sumo. You want those toes out at a 45 degree angle. Simple!
  • Pushing out. This goes along with toes out, on sumo if you do not toe out, your knees will cave in and you will not be able to push out through your legs and feet. You want to think about spreading the platform under you, spreading it apart by pushing out through the feet.
  • Hips. On sumo the bar will come up very slowly at first, as you are pushing out through the feet, once the bar passes the knees you need to mentally think about pushing the hips forward. On sumo you have to think about two cues, from the bottom push out through the feet, once the bar passes the knees think hips forward.
  • Patience. This is a ket to the sumo deadlift, as stated previous, the bar will come up slowly in the first half of the lift until it comes past the knees, once it comes past the knees and you start to push through the hip the bar will move much more quickly. You just need to be patient in the bottom half of the lift and keep pushing out through the feet, as long as the bar keeps moving no matter how slow, once it gets past the knees you’ve got it just push through those hips!

If you need some visuals and you need to hear a coach instruct a lifter…check out the video below! And please please please subscribe to our youtube channel so you can get updates when we release more technique videos!

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