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Deadlift: Sumo or Conventional


Just a few questions on whether i should switch from conventional to sumo because i have a history of lower back pain and it’s starting to get sore after workouts.

My background:
25, 5’9", 165 pounds (i think, i’m in australia and i’m 75kg)
started the program from Rippetoes Starting Strength about 6 months ago and gained 10-15 pounds. Traning Goal: I wanna be massive especially back/traps. Will prob never compete.

Now my problem is i have always had lower back problems and i am now deadlifting 220-240 conventional and feel it in my lower back more than anywhere else. I like the feel of sumo much better but have avoided it as i like the look of conv better and it has proven beyond doubt to build big backs.

So my question is:

Does sumo have the same ablity to build back/traps? I have read studies saying quad, hams and upper traps work more in sumo. Oleksander Kutcher’s(sumo lifter n pic above) back is what i want but i don’t know if he uses sumo all the time or whether he even used conv to start his career and build his basic foundation.

i think it has to do more with your proportions, like legs and torso length.

when i pull sumo i feel it in my glutes more, but it sort of “grinds” my hip joint more, and i don’t really enjoy it.

the most DOMS i’ve had in my upper back and trap was from rack pulls, especially with straps so you can go another set or two heavier without your grip giving way.

Depends whether your back is actually hurting or if its just soreness.

Conventional works your lower back a lot. You could switch to sumo bet then your lower back wont get stronger.

Or every third workout you could do conventional deadlifts to keep your back strong, and then the other two workouts go with rack pulls with straps.

Also you might just need to back off for a while, and start back at 185 and build up. Focus on form.

Lastly give snatch grip deads a try.

You could try adding in some heavyish(5-8 reps, 1-3 sets or so) good mornings as assistance work to build your lower back up. Also, rack pulls and/or hyperextensions would probably do the same thing, I just like Good mornings because they work really well for me.

What I have heard is that if you have long arms and a short torso(a deadlift build) you should pull conventional style. If you have shorter arms and a longer torso(more a squatter/bencher build) then you should pull sumo, but that is just to get the best leverage.

Slightly more trap involved in sumo since you can’t “rest” the bar against your legs while pulling the top portion. Not much discernable difference though, particularily at lower weights. I’d agree with everyone who said rack pulls, they’ve worked well for me, and you get far more safe heavy volume for your back than off the floor. Medium/heavy ab work might help with the low back pain, maybe a belt as well?

There shouldn’t be much difference in upper back/trap development. Your upper back is still anchoring your arms which are holding onto the bar. The only really difference would be in the recruitment of the lower body and torso. The back angle in conventional means that it sort of acts as a fulcrum and therefore takes a lot of stress.

But to be honest, a sumo deadlift will have the same effects on long-torso, short-limbed individual as the conventional deadlift will have on a short-torso long-limbed individual. I much prefer the sumo because I have stubby limbs and a long torso. I make a great squatter and bench presser, though.

if your lower back is sore sure its actually your lower back and not your hips lack of mobility which is causing the lower back to be used more in ways it shouldn’t.

Kutcher’s spinal erectors are that developed for several reasons, hes been pulling and doing so damn heavy for a long time, he has a low bodyfat percentage and hes taken a large amount of performance enhancing substances (before any flames, this is fact and he is serving a suspension from IPF/WADA).

It doesn’t seem like you’ve been training for that long, I take it you mean 240-50lbs not kg’s? If so you’ve got years of heavy deadlifts ahead before a back like the above will be a possibilty. A conventional deadlift will aide alot of thickness to the lower back, as will sumos but to a lesser extent.

Perscription…pull heavy for five plus more years, repeat if neccesary. You need a base before you get in to any sort of advanced specialization.

hey just a side question, if you aren’t even pulling 400lbs yet, do you even need to do any specialization like pullthroughs/snatch grip/ghrs etc specifically to help the deadlift?

or do you just need to man up and pull harder

i was repping around 330 at my old gym, but now that im at the YMCA, the bars are smoother and i cannot hold on to even 325 for more than 3 reps, instead of complaining i do weighted hangs for time on off days

Sumo Deadlifting isn’t as good at building the back as Conventional Deadlifting. It shouldn’t be used by bodybuilders for back development.

It’s great for Hamstrings, Glutes, and pretty much all the Squatting and Deadlifting Muscles. But if you’ve got to pick a style of deadlifting that’s focused on Trap and Back Streght then Conventional is the way to go.

I am sure the guy in the pic you provided does alot more than just deads, but lets look at both the Sumo and Conventional. Sumo using a wider stance will for less movement and probably more weight.

With a conventional deadlift, you are having to lower yourself more than a Sumo. So you have greater range of motion, which is more likely to be transferable to whatever sport you play. You could rotate between both, and get the best of both worlds.

Thanks guys heaps of good advice, i appreciate it.

To Power GnP:
Yeah your right im just starting and am doing 220 pounds for 5 reps fairly easy
Got alot of years of lifting ahead and I look forward to it.

I’m gonna definitely give conventional another go, drop weight a bit and warm up and concentrate on form even more

I’ll keep you posted