Go Sumo by Alexander Kang

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Here are some general guidelines to follow for the sumo deadlift:

1. Footwear: Instead of pulling in chucks, invest an extra $15–20 for some deadlift slippers. Some lifters may consider this insignificant, but nonetheless, it adds a mechanical advantage to the pull.

2. Set up as wide as you can to minimize distance: Some lifters lack the hip mobility/flexibility to place their feet as wide as possible. Lifters who lack this mobility should seriously implement mobility and dynamic movements before workouts and engage in extended static stretching of the hip flexors on non-training days. The lower the core is to the floor, the easier it is to maintain a flat back while grabbing the bar. The back position of a stiff leg deadlift is completely different from the back position of a sumo deadlift.

3. Knee and foot position: Similar to a wide stance squat, push the knees out while initiating the movement and applying tension to the bar. Pointing the feet forward won’t allow for this to happen and will cause unnecessary stress on the knee joint. Instead, turn the toes slightly outward. This will provide the same amount of stability while allowing the knees to flex in their natural path.

4. Keep the chest out and erect at all costs: If you start the sumo deadlift in a hunchbacked position, the result will be a very ugly and arduous lift. About midpoint during the lift, the body's core collapses into a very precarious position. If you start in a hunchbacked position, it will be very difficult to straighten out (during lockout) with a weight 95 percent or above your 1RM. However, if you keep your chest out and erect from the very beginning, you’ll be able to maintain at least some integrity in your back/core throughout the entirety of the lift. When pulling with a suit, don’t make the straps overly tight because this tends to cause a round back position in the start of the lift.

The position of your head is equally important. Quite simply put, you don’t want your head in a downward position at all because this causes the upper portion of the spine to misalign with the lower portion. This will also affect the tightness of the trapezius and erectors, which you don’t want to compromise before initiating the lift. You can artificially keep yourself in this position using an erector shirt. Lifters who have difficulty maintaining this initial position may also benefit from an erector shirt.

5. Set your grip and keep it dialed in: This is essential, especially for those lifters who have trouble keeping the weight in their hands during the lockout. After grabbing the bar and setting your four fingers/upper palm on the bar, lock the tip of the thumb over the first joint of the middle finger. Some have found success using the hook grip (practiced by many Olympians) so it’s really a matter of personal preference. However, a “jerk and go” grip will never be as secure as a pre-set grip, which is why the latter is a ritual used by many of the IPF elite (many of whom perform the sumo deadlift).

Continuing with the minimizing distance concept, where should you place your hands? Let’s examine an extreme—the snatch grip versus the normal grip in the conventional stance deadlift. Obviously, the difference in the distance might not be that great, but it’s nonetheless an advantage that you can utilize in your favor. The edge of your hands should be at a minimum grazing the smooth portion of the inner bar. They can even be brought in some so that the index and/or middle finger envelopes the smooth portion of the bar.

6. The necessity of the stretch reflex for a wide sumo puller: The stretch reflex is more advantageous to the conventional puller because the sumo deadlift requires a more deliberate set up due to the wide stance. The stretch reflex shouldn’t be used for the sumo technique if it sacrifices the integrity of the lifter’s chest/back position or grip.

7. Patience is key: One of the worst things that can happen during a sumo deadlift is for the hips to come up “early” and initiate the movement. This will turn the sumo deadlift into a wide stance stiff leg deadlift, which is the last thing that any sumo puller wants. In this position, the sumo puller negates both the leg drive and efficiency (distance and form) of the pull. Keeping the integrity of the initial form with submaximal weights will certainly pay dividends when performing attempts in the vicinity of 1RMs.

8. The lift itself: Because you’ve minimized the distance lifted drastically, the actual bar path should be short, efficient, and powerful. Overemphasizing your lockout will change the bar’s trajectory path. So the lockout should be exactly to the point where the shoulders and back are erect and 90 degrees (ideally) to the floor.

9. Dropping the bar, the eccentric portion: When you drop the bar, watch your toes! Japanese lifters practice the toe swivel while dropping the bar (not a coincidence that they all pull sumo style). If your stance is up to the plates, take this precaution while dropping the weight. Most importantly, keep your hands on the bar after dropping the weight so that you don’t receive any unnecessary red lights on the platform.

10. Don’t hate the conventional stance, but do what works for you: The biggest numbers in the deadlift are being performed in the conventional position by the likes of Bolton, Magnusson, and Konstantinovs. These lifters are beasts, but it shouldn’t undermine your perception of the sumo deadlift’s efficiency. If you haven’t given it a try, it’s time to give it a shot.

Alexander Kang is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in finance. However, he finds powerlifting much more engaging and has recently been ranked in the PLUSA’s Top 100 in the deadlift (#26) and total for the 132 lbs weight class (November 2006).

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.









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Submitted by DMorgan on Sun, 04/15/2007 - 2:40pm.

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