T Nation

Switching to Sumo, Thoughts/Tips?


#1

I watched this vid and made me think that I should commit to Sumo for a while and see what happens.

He makes the points that independent of body type (arm/torso lengths, etc) sumo has better leverages and is more reliant on the legs rather than the small and easily over-taxed lower back muscles.

I am guessing that most start with conventional b/c it's a seemingly more straightforward, easily learned movement, but it seems that sumo may be a better lift in the long run b/c of its emphasis on larger muscle groups?

Anyway, tips for making the switch? When did you do it? I'm still making notable newbie-gains on conventional so maybe let it roll for a while? Do sumos as assistance for a bit first?


#2

I don’t have any tips as I’ve never pulled sumo, but I would caution against the conclusion that sumo is a superior method of deadlifting. It’s a different exercise which does different things, and depending on your reason for having deadlifts in your training, the switch can be totally nonsensical.

A lot of successful and accomplished deadlifters pull conventionally. If it works for you, don’t feel like you need to change.


#3

I’d say it depends on your strengths google dan Greene convential or sumo. He gives solid advice. Convential plays into people with strong backs. Sumo has a shorter ROM but unless your have very strong legs getting it off the floor is way harder.

If I were you I’d train both on deadlift days and see if pulling feels better spreading the floor or ripping it off the floor.


#4

Switch if your stronger at sumo. Don’t switch because of some youtube yokel. Do them both, but make sure your strongest is the one you use come meet day.


#5

OK makes sense.

I guess I was under an impression that sumo was definitely superior if trained with enough patience to give it a fair chance. Perhaps focus on sumo for several months and see where it takes me.


#6

Theres no reason not to do both in my opinion. If im attempting a 1rm I will pull sumo but my conventional isnt far off from it.


#7

When I started sumo when down from 370 conventional to 350 sumo. Now I am at 430 sumo 9 months later. I like it better and if you do the research there are more record pulls in the smaller weight classes 198 and below pulling sumo than conventional. That is why I switched and it has been great. Also my back is not as strong as my hips, legs, and butt. Try it for awhile, get good at it and it should work fine. I also think that unless you are at the top of your lifting potential both are good.


#8

I saw that video awhile back and it seems like the comparisons were oversimplified by placing too much emphasis on kinematics and considering only the erector muscle group. His argument might be strong if we only need to focus on geometry between joints but it’s a bit more complex how the muscles interact between the joints, especially the torso. He said the limiting factor was the size of the erector spinae but in reality the core, lats and traps are taking a large amount of load as well. The size of the torso can also effect how much strength is needed from the erectors. A smaller torso has a smaller moment of inertia and requires more strength in the erectors while the opposite is true for a larger torso. That’s typically why smaller lifters prefer sumo while larger lifters prefer conventional.

Because the legs are angled away from the body in the sumo, it requires more force than the weight being lifted. A smaller lifter will take the trade off for lower loads in the lower back by producing more force through the legs. A larger lifter switching to sumo could perform worse because they could experience lower loads in their back (even though its strong enough to handle more) but now some of the force generated in there legs are wasted in the transverse direction (through frictional force) - what’s left in the vertical component is used to move the body and bar up. So in general smaller lifters favor sumo and larger lifters favor conventional but you also have to take into consideration anthropometry and muscle strengths/weaknesses.


#9

I’m also of the opinion that it’s best to train both – even if you’re at least using a variation of one as an assistance movement (e.g., conventional block pulls). Try out sumo and see how it feels. If, after having honed your technique somewhat, it still feels weak and unnatural, chances are you aren’t built to lift sumo and should stick with conventional as your mainstay.


#10

Most of the strong lifters (5 platers+) in my gym train both. They seem to use the “other” as assistance work.


#11

Thanks all for the help.

lift206, makes a lot of sense. I noticed a lot of the lighter weight classes in meet I watched a few weeks ago, sumos were dominant. The big guys 220+ all seemed to be more or less conventional. Interesting stuff.


#12

I agree with others in training both or at least being able to lift heavy with either one. Sometimes training variations of the main lifts can help you pinpoint strengths and weaknesses which allows you to learn more about your body.

A couple years ago I switched to sumo and tested my max at 385 to figure out my starting point before fully converting all my pulls to sumo to see how far I could take it. My conventional at the time was 405 and I weighed around 165. I used 320 as my training max to be extremely conservative because I wanted to nail down form. I did the 5/3/1 BBB 3-month challenge and all that volume helped me transition successfully because I became comfortable pulling sumo and built the muscles for it. The next month moving on to the normal 5/3/1 routine I was able to pull 335 for 15 reps. I continued on adding 10 lbs to my training max each month and by the end of the year I was able to pull 460 @ 167. Make sure to start off light and progress slowly. You can try the same approach if you maxed out your gains with linear programming.


#13

To my knowledge, the only 1000+ pulls have been conventional, and almost all of the 900+ pulls as well. This includes both raw and geared lifters. I certainly believe that many lifters can benefit from competing using sumo style, but ultimately, the ceiling seems to be higher with conventional.


#14

One day I hope to see a 7’ heavyweight pull a heavy sumo just to see that it’s possible.