T Nation

Sumo Deadlift Lockout


#1

Hey all,

I'm going to make it a goal of my next mesocycle to improve my deadlift lockout. I don't have any competitions on the horizon until late winter/early spring of next year, so I think I can take my time with this.

This past weekend, I had a deadlift-only meet (that's unfortunately how they often do things here in Germany). I felt good on the day but had less-than-thrilling results, in part due to issues with my pull above the knee. Have a look at my three attempts in the attached video.

As you can see, I'm speedy(ish) off the floor, but have problems just as the bar gets past my knees. I'm thinking that I'm either locking out my legs too early, or that I've got too weak glutes. Of course, part of the problem is my leverages (long femurs, relatively short arms) and my "sumo technique" in general (still working on opening up those hips more and getting them closer to the plane of the bar). But I'd love to hear your technique/training advice as to how to improve this weakness.


#2

You’ve got the same problem as me, even though I don’t pull sumo.

Being fast off the floor doesn’t necessarily mean you’re strong off the floor. The way I see it your weakness is breaking it off the ground. You take your hips up and round your torso over some in order to get your leverage good enough to pop the weight off, but then you’re left in a really tough position to lock it out, especially with a sumo style.

I’d work on purposely making it “harder” on yourself off the floor with lower hips and a more upright and straighter back. Work on developing the strength to break it off the floor like that so you can put yourself into a better position for the lockout.


#3

Your locking out your knees and hips at the same time, which is great for conventional, bad for sumo. Try working on getting those knees locked out earlier, then it’s just a matter of forcing your hips towards the bar. Could also work on getting you balls towards the bar more, will make it more hell to break of the floor, but once you do, you have it.

PS: The way you are currently pulling sumo, would probably be better suited to a semi sumo stance. So either get the balls to the bar more and keep the current stance width, or bring your shins closer to the rings and keep them more vertical.


#4

Some great tips so far, thanks dudes!

Csulli: That’s another thing that I had presumed… I’d been working on just that over the last 12 weeks but kind of threw my technique to the wind for the competition. But you’re absolutely right, and that’s something that I notice at 90%+. I’m thinking that I’ll work on higher-rep work in the RPE 8-9 range to solve this?

Backtothebar: Thanks! Yeah, I recall hearing a good sumo tip (I believe from Dan Green) that said more or less the same thing. Has a lot to do with momentum, I think.


#5

Csulli pretty much gave the perfect answer. If you watch any really technically proficient deadlifter, a lift that makes it to their knees is going to get locked out 99% of the time, with the rare miss being lost grip. Watch some of the guys that just fold themselves in half and rip the bar off of the floor, and you’ll see a really quickly moving bar followed by violent shaking and hitching as they attempt a lockout. Proper back positioning is the key to that.

I’ll add the same advice I usually give myself when I question my sumo technique, “Go watch Andrey Belyaev.” I know you’ve seen him lift before, but the back angle he maintains during setup and the first half of the pull is what everyone should aspire towards.


#6

I believe an assistance exercise that will help with strengthening a good starting position (as csulli described) is the front squat. It will help strengthen the quads and the core for a strong start to the lift. I firmly believe in the adage that “you finish how you start”.


#7

[quote]csulli wrote:
You’ve got the same problem as me, even though I don’t pull sumo.

Being fast off the floor doesn’t necessarily mean you’re strong off the floor. The way I see it your weakness is breaking it off the ground. You take your hips up and round your torso over some in order to get your leverage good enough to pop the weight off, but then you’re left in a really tough position to lock it out, especially with a sumo style.

I’d work on purposely making it “harder” on yourself off the floor with lower hips and a more upright and straighter back. Work on developing the strength to break it off the floor like that so you can put yourself into a better position for the lockout.[/quote]

^this^

Take some time to just work the bottom of the lift, focusing on keeping your low back locked in. Maybe throw in so sumo deficit pulls in the 50-60%.


#8

[quote]BacktotheBar wrote:
Your locking out your knees and hips at the same time, which is great for conventional, bad for sumo. Try working on getting those knees locked out earlier, then it’s just a matter of forcing your hips towards the bar. [/quote]

^^THIS

@ kgildner, i think this is what u heard from Dan Green

And if u pause ur video @ 1:15 u can see how u start to bring the hips forward before u lockout the knees.


#9

Awesome! Thank you all for your answers!

Do you think that performing deadlifts to the knees might be a good means of strengthening my set-up position?


#10

So, a quick update: things aren’t looking any better. I’m still working at around the same max as the end of last summer (230 - 235 kg). Just can’t seem to improve my lockout.

As per emskee’s advice I’ve taken some time over the last several weeks to work on my speed and spinal alignment, trying to refrain from looking forward and visualising the pull from the T3-T4 directly upwards. I feel as though my form is slowly improving, but things aren’t getting any easier for me.

Here’s a single at 230 kg (albeit with the stiff Eleiko bar). That lockout is just brutal. I feel as though things get a bit easier if I really focus on pushing out hard and pulling back, but I hit a brick wall a few inches up my thighs.

Any insight?


#11

See tip #3 in that Dan Green video. It looks like you are not finishing the leg drive before straightening up at the hips.


#12

[quote]kgildner wrote:
So, a quick update: things aren’t looking any better. I’m still working at around the same max as the end of last summer (230 - 235 kg). Just can’t seem to improve my lockout.

As per emskee’s advice I’ve taken some time over the last several weeks to work on my speed and spinal alignment, trying to refrain from looking forward and visualising the pull from the T3-T4 directly upwards. I feel as though my form is slowly improving, but things aren’t getting any easier for me.

Here’s a single at 230 kg (albeit with the stiff Eleiko bar). That lockout is just brutal. I feel as though things get a bit easier if I really focus on pushing out hard and pulling back, but I hit a brick wall a few inches up my thighs.

Any insight?

How are you training pulls?


#13

Something I’ve been using with people im training currently is have them setup on a mid to low box. couple inches below the knee, or about mid shin. Don’t need to go particularly heavy, for you id stay around 225-275lbs, and just work on initiating with your hips. Don’t pull it with your upper back, think about having a passive upper back and just getting your hips through well. It will kind of regroove the pattern for you and after a couple weeks you shouldn’t have a lockout problem.


#14

[quote]Reed wrote:

How are you training pulls?[/quote]

Doing basic block periodization with an RPE scale. So I’ll work up to an RPE of 8 for the first few weeks of my cycle and then up to RPE 9-9.5 in the last few weeks, while increasing intensity and decreasing volume. Go from sets of 4-5 to singles pre-meet. And I train paused deadlifts/rack pulls on my squat day, usually keeping the intensity at around an RPE of 8.

This seems to be doing the trick in the other two lifts, but my deadlift is oh so shitty of late.


#15

[quote]cparker wrote:
Something I’ve been using with people im training currently is have them setup on a mid to low box. couple inches below the knee, or about mid shin. Don’t need to go particularly heavy, for you id stay around 225-275lbs, and just work on initiating with your hips. Don’t pull it with your upper back, think about having a passive upper back and just getting your hips through well. It will kind of regroove the pattern for you and after a couple weeks you shouldn’t have a lockout problem. [/quote]

Good tip, especially doing work below the knee… It really seems as though my problem is locking out the knees first and then driving through.

Will have to work this in to my next meso…


#16

Hey there! I am also a sumo puller with similar issues as you, close to the same weights too. But my setup is different, I tend to round my back a bit on purpose in the setup and maintain it to lockout. I helps with speed off the floor but gives me trouble at lockout. But i feel that training both sumo and conventional at the same time is very helpful. Similar to most other elite deadlifters like Dan Green and Konstantin. I suggest doing all main deadlift work sumo and most accessory work conventional. Focusing on rack/block pulls, stiff leg deads, defecit pulls, and pause deadlifts help a lot too. I omitted pause deads from my last program and felt that was a mistake. but the pause deads can be done sumo as well, generally right before the knee, it will make your body learn how to stay tight in compromising positions.


#17

[quote]kgildner wrote:

[quote]Reed wrote:

How are you training pulls?[/quote]

Doing basic block periodization with an RPE scale. So I’ll work up to an RPE of 8 for the first few weeks of my cycle and then up to RPE 9-9.5 in the last few weeks, while increasing intensity and decreasing volume. Go from sets of 4-5 to singles pre-meet. And I train paused deadlifts/rack pulls on my squat day, usually keeping the intensity at around an RPE of 8.

This seems to be doing the trick in the other two lifts, but my deadlift is oh so shitty of late.[/quote]

Personally I had the same problem and in 4 months went from 575 pull to a 640 in the gym. Stop pulling from the floor heavy at all. I mean 50% for speed and tech work only. Pull from block just below knee every week. Alt one week volume and one week heavy like working up to a heavy 5-3-1 different weeks obviously then reset.


#18

[quote]Reed wrote:

[quote]kgildner wrote:

[quote]Reed wrote:

How are you training pulls?[/quote]

Doing basic block periodization with an RPE scale. So I’ll work up to an RPE of 8 for the first few weeks of my cycle and then up to RPE 9-9.5 in the last few weeks, while increasing intensity and decreasing volume. Go from sets of 4-5 to singles pre-meet. And I train paused deadlifts/rack pulls on my squat day, usually keeping the intensity at around an RPE of 8.

This seems to be doing the trick in the other two lifts, but my deadlift is oh so shitty of late.[/quote]

Personally I had the same problem and in 4 months went from 575 pull to a 640 in the gym. Stop pulling from the floor heavy at all. I mean 50% for speed and tech work only. Pull from block just below knee every week. Alt one week volume and one week heavy like working up to a heavy 5-3-1 different weeks obviously then reset. [/quote]

Awesome! Thanks for the tips. Gonna give that a shot after my meet at the end of April. I’m probably going to do my next meet after that at the end of summer at the earliest, so I’ll have a fair amount of time to work out these glitches.


#19

[quote]kgildner wrote:
Awesome! Thanks for the tips. Gonna give that a shot after my meet at the end of April. I’m probably going to do my next meet after that at the end of summer at the earliest, so I’ll have a fair amount of time to work out these glitches.[/quote]

Block pulls definitely help in getting the hips involved. It helped for me too. Just make sure when you pull from the floor to get the hips more involved from the start so you can maintain tension in the hips throughout the lift, otherwise you don’t get the benefit from all that training.


#20

Conveniently, I had my last heavy DL session today before the meet, so I had the chance to try out some of the cues I’ve picked up here.

I hit a 2.5 kg PR (235 kg) on my deadlift from the floor. I seem to do a somewhat better job of locking out my knees first, and though the lockout was a big grind, the grind started “later” than it used to. I think working on this, combined with a healthy dose of block pulls and paused/speed work will be my ticket to a better pull.

Also worked up to a 245 kg block pull from just above mid-shin afterwards. Both videos are below. As always, I’m very grateful to your feedback!