T Nation

Deadlifts: Pull with Back vs. Legs


Some people pull more with their back.

The received wisdom is that you should pull more with their legs to increase the load.

So should the back pullers try to change their form or they stick with what they are more familar with?


My personal opinion is do whatever works best for you.

from what I've seen personally, the guys who pull with more of a sumo stance are able to pull more weight and reduce the risk of injury. However, if a guy can pull more weight using his back, and he doesn't hurt himself, go for it.


Using a sumo stance decreases the range of movement and therefore enables you to lift more weight.


My sumo figure is actually 50lb lower than that of my conventional stance coz my back is disproportionately stronger than my lower body.


Is that why out of the top 10 biggest deadlifts in the world, 9 of them are conventional?


Sumo also takes emphasis off the back, and onto the glutes so I can see how someone who's trained with regular deads would pull less weight.


The main difference is going to be the increased activation of the adductors--the glutes are heavily involved in conventional as well.


Really? What makes you think this?


I was reading this out of Chad Waterbury's book.


I can't tell if this is some kind of snide remark or if you are serious...I have read Chad's book and enjoyed it.

That doesn't change the fact that the vast majority of record pulls have been done in the conventional style.

But certainly some guys with shorter legs, longer torsos, and/or thicker midsections can pull more sumo style. Also textile support helps you out a little more with the sumo style. But it just isn't the case for most people.


Interestingly, it seems that while the biggest total poundages (WRs) have been pulled almost exclusively with a conventional style, the sumo style seems to have produced on average the greater weight-to-bodyweight ratio pulls (ie--coefficient wise, sumo does better). -- from a Louie Simmons article on EFS (or maybe westside barbell, I forgot).

I agree, sumo deadlifts shorten the stroke of the lift and change the leverage of the pull, both of which help tremendously in pulling more weight. ( reviewed in http://www.ironlife.com/mag/issue6/deadlift.shtml with references)


I cant seem to get my upper back straight...

Here is a form check vid of mine with >4 plates.

That weight wasn't terribly heavy as evidenced by the fact that it went up pretty fast and the lack of hitching.Indeed,my max is 40+lb more.

My upper back is also that rounded if I use 3 plates(will provide video next time)...Should I continue to pull this way?

This feels most comfortable to me.So what gives?


I think it looks fine to me, you might want to try putting on some knee socks and dragging it up your shins. That would cause you to be pulling back and might take away the slight crowning you do have


It looks to me like you're leaning into and over the bar rather than pulling it towards yourself


I have scars on my shins from deadlifting :slightly_smiling:

pull closer to body, go down lower, lift with legs.....

use smaller plates to get fulller range of motion, or deadlift off a platform


Same here. I should probably start wearing sweatpants on deadlift day.


Make sure they're not a synthetic blend. I had some plastic-y kind of sweat pants and the friction of the bar was enough to melt black plastic lines into my shins!


Yeah, cotton is the way to go.
Nice avatar by the way. :stuck_out_tongue: I love opeth, as you've probably deduced from my avatar.


For what it's worth I think Sumo is more of a squat rather than a deadlift. I"m a purist and prefer the conventional deadlift

Sumos use almost no back at all. The conventional deadlift is meant to me a "back" lift not a "leg" lift.

Like he said, the biggest pullers in the world all use a conventional stance. It may be harder, but most of the time you can use more weight.


Are both styles legal in the same meets?