Switching From Conventional To Sumo Advice

Hey guys,

So I’m certainly not a powerlifer but I train in similar ways as a powerlifer would. I’ve ALWAYS pulled conventional. I’m juts getting a bit older and notice my lower back getting smoked on every single session. Today I pulled Sumo for the first time. I had zero back pain! Holy shit, maybe I should have been pulling Sumo all along!

But I did notice a couple of things that I could use some tips on.

  1. My quads got absolutely fried. I notice them being lit up once I hit my working weight sets. Surely that’s not normal? I figure I’m missing a que of some kind.

  2. After the first working set I had a hard time keeping my hips from shooting up.

Any advice on how to fix these things? Even if I can’t I’m probably a Sumo lifer from here on out. It’s hard unlearning a movement pattern

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Sumo uses more quads than conventional, I feel it in my quads too. As for hips rising, maybe do one hard set if that’s all you can manage and then lighter volume work with a weight that you can lift with proper technique.

Specifically with pulling sumo. What is the common weakness that causes the hips to shoot up? Or is it most likely just inexperience in that stance? I haven’t had that problem pulling conventional once I learned to properly brace. I kind of think it could be weak quads. As much as I felt them firing, they tend to be relatively weak for me regardless.

poor technique

I’ve also recently switched to Sumo for my main, heavy DL day. I still do my supplemental DL work conventional though. I would think you need more quad work like front squats, high bar atg back squats and Bulgarian split squats. You may also need to experiment with your foot position/stance width. Post a vid if you can.

Yeah, video.

I’m no expert on sumo and my sumo lags my conventional but I made a lot of progress when I did 8 months pulling sumo. It is said that if your sumo lags your conventional, then your quads are weak. If your conventional lags your sumo, your back is weak.

So, like you, my quads are weak. Not surprising since I don’t do a lot of front squats but do rotate in the SSB (safety squat bar) regularly, and my squat form emphasizes posterior chain (sitting back, more back lean angle, knees barely come forward during squat). So my quads are arguably somewhat neglected.

Focus on form; sounds like you’ve been conventional deadlifting for quite a while. You aren’t going to build the same level of sumo overnight.

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Foot position plays a big part in the success of the lift, some dudes can go really wide, others not so much. Play around with it and see what works. Squeeze with you legs while sort of sitting back and the weight will pop off the floor. I’ve recently just switched back to sumo and loving it! Have pulled conventional for last few years and prior to that, always sumo.


You’re quads should get used to it after a couple of training sessions. As for your hip position, I believe it was Ed Coan I remember saying in a video that the starting position of your hips when you start the pull should be the same position your hips are in when you lower the bar to the ground at the end of the lift. I practice this by doing deadstop reps where I just take a breath or two at the bottom without moving my hips up or down before starting the next rep. When I first started doing sumos I pulled my lower back by going heavy and starting with my hips too high. Ive had no problems since I’ve started doing this at the end of every rep

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Thanks for all the advice guys. My take aways

  • keep practicing and playing with foot placement
  • stop neglecting the quads and do some damn front squats already!

I have a pair of heels coming in the mail. Will be my first time trying squat shoes. I Image that will do heaps for quad strength for me. My squat is hip dominant af

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SSB squats, high bar squats, hack squats, or leg press would probably be a better choice since front squats are limited mostly by back strength, plus the ability to stay upright. If you have to use weights way lighter than your squat then you won’t really be challenging your quads much.