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Deadlift Technique with Short Arms/Long Legs?

Hey Jim,

So over the course of my lifting career, I’ve always loved heavy deads. They’re a close second behind squats. However, I’ve always had a problem with finding an optimal setup due to my leverages. I have short, alligator arms, a short torso, and long legs. When I go to set up, in an effort to elongate myself and keep a flat back, my hips have to essentially be a mile behind the bar and I end up looking all “balled up” so-to-speak. Hard to describe, but hope I’m helping.

Anyway…I was looking into ordering some WOW straps from Chris Duffin’s website in an effort to artificially lengthen my arms a bit and allow me to set up more optimally. While I would prefer to not use straps at all, I have no idea how to improve my setup without some form of expensive online coaching.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Try sumo maybe?

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Hey, I have the same proportions as you, so my condolences bud. haha

In all seriousness, I would just do your best to keep your technique clean and roll with what you have. Artificially lengthening your arms with straps won’t make you stronger, it will just make you lift more. It’s no different than doing deadlifts from mats. Which would be better than straps.

Going sumo is a great idea - I did it and have made really good progress. But there’s other things you can do to help improve your deadlift:

  1. Video yourself deadlifting and post here for people to help. Nothing will be more effective than this.

  2. Experiment with foot width. You can fake changing your proportions by getting your feet in an optimal position.

  3. Experiment with grip width. It needs to be absolutely as narrow as possible while still leaving room for your knees. Too wide artificially shortens your arms. Too narrow will block your knees from travelling forward, which will force your hips further back than they need to be.

TL;DR - you and I both got genetically screwed for deadlifting, but it doesn’t mean we can’t deadlift and be good at it. Experiment with your setup and try sumo. And post videos on here. Seriously, there’s a lot of really good, really smart lifters here that are willing to help.

Thank you sir!!

I have a long torso, and short arms. Conventional pulling had my back almost horizontal at the start. I got up to a 510 lb conventional pull just training it consistently. It always felt unnatural to me. Always felt like I was not braced well. Anyways, I thought let’s go into the gym and just see what I can do sumo. 475 and I am like that felt an easy warm up, 495 same thought, 515 and it is starting to get sorta hard, 535 getting harder, 550 was hard with a bit in the tank. I stopped there and have pulled sumo since then.

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Exact same story here. Hit my conventional 1RM for 5 easy reps. I know Jim likes his conventional deadlift, but for some people sumo just works better I think. I’ve gone back and forth and sumo has really helped my conventional, but sumo is way stronger.

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