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Train Sumo to Build Conventional DL

Just looking for some opinions. I’ve heard Louie say “Wide builds close” in regards to squatting and DL’ing. I have always trained my box squats and my pause squats a bit wider than my competition squats and I was wondering if anyone here pulls conventional in meets but uses sumo pulls in training.

I’m using a WS-inspired template starting next week (the Max Strength phase from Dave Tate’s “Strong(er)” series) which calls for some speed pulls (50-60%) after box squats on DE days. I pull conventional in competition but was wondering if pulling sumo in training would have some good carryover…

Any opinions? (Other than “don’t use westside” or “Louie/Dave Tate sucks”)

If I’m doing speed pulls I’m thinking about technique as much as speed, so I’d pull the style I pull in competition.

As far as the two lifts correlating to each other - when both of my pull styles were around 150kg I decided to pull sumo exclusively for a while, and found that when I went back to conventional it had risen with my sumo (to 170kg).
I’ve pulled conventional only since then, and now have a 205kg conventional, and a 185kg sumo (tested last week and two months ago respectively). This kind of supports the idea about pulling wide building the narrow, but I’ll point out that this probably depends on individual weaknesses - I needed more leg and glute strength, while my back was solid.

[quote]Achilles_Wrath wrote:
I’ve heard Louie say “Wide builds close”.

Any opinions? (Other than “don’t use westside” or “Louie/Dave Tate sucks”)[/quote]

Sounds like a terribly inefficient way to train. Just doesn’t make much sense when you understand the technical differences between the two deadlift styles. Sure there will be SOME carry-over as there always will be but far from optimal.

ps: And yeah, Louie sucks.

Thanks for the reply.

My best conventional pull is 200kg. Not very impressive, I know. I’m a bit below that pulling sumo. But the weaknesses are different. I have a harder time locking out sumo pulls (not at 50-60%, obviously) whereas my conventional usually fails right below the knee.

I guess I’ll try it and see what happens.

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:

[quote]Achilles_Wrath wrote:
I’ve heard Louie say “Wide builds close”.

Any opinions? (Other than “don’t use westside” or “Louie/Dave Tate sucks”)[/quote]

Sounds like a terribly inefficient way to train. Just doesn’t make much sense when you understand the technical differences between the two deadlift styles. Sure there will be SOME carry-over as there always will be but far from optimal.

ps: And yeah, Louie sucks.[/quote]

Thanks for the reply.

There is something to be said for specificity. I guess I considered using the sumo in the next training cycle in order to strengthen a “weaker” lift…

Had to take a dig at Louie, eh? :wink:

I have used the sumo to try and build my conventional deadlift and it didn’t really help much. But that’s how my body works. It may have more carry over for you, the only thing you can do is try and find out.

Whenever my sumo pull goes up, so does my squat & conventional deadlift.

Here is a long, boring story built on circumstantial evidence but I figure it’s relevant:

When I was pulling ~630 conventional I started training sumo. I was unbelievably weak at it. I started adding them in as an assistance exercise and also doing them for speed work every week by alternating sumo / conventional. After squatting I would break off and just do 2-3 sets of 6 often without a belt. During this time period I rarely pulled heavy conventional. At the start of the training cycle (about 3 months elapsed) I wanted to test my conventional pull to see where it was at. I pulled 705 off the floor in my King deadlifter suit and 680 raw. At the meet I missed 730 just above my knee because I lost my grip. I also opened with a 25lb PR in the squat and ended up with a 70lb squat PR.

Here’s the training pull:

EDIT: strong NSFW language and you can skip to about 25s in

Looking back, the large disparity between my strength in the two lifts may have been why it worked so well for me. Your mileage may vary.

1 Like

[quote]Achilles_Wrath wrote:
Thanks for the reply.

My best conventional pull is 200kg. Not very impressive, I know. I’m a bit below that pulling sumo. But the weaknesses are different. I have a harder time locking out sumo pulls (not at 50-60%, obviously) whereas my conventional usually fails right below the knee.

I guess I’ll try it and see what happens.[/quote]

If that’s your issue, then this is probably not going to help at all.

If your issue is low on the conventional DL, it’s more direct to train deficit deads, snatch grip deads, low rack pulls from just below the sticking point.

If your hips were your issue in the conventional pull, then sumo might help because it hammers the hips harder for most people. But that doesn’t look to be your issue.

[quote]frankjl wrote:

Looking back, the large disparity between my strength in the two lifts may have been why it worked so well for me. Your mileage may vary.[/quote]

That’s a good training story and I think you might be right here. I think if there’s a very wide disparity then it points to a weak link, but then if they’re semi in range (not close to identical or anything, just not incredibly different), you’re much better off looking at angles/sticking points, specific conventional DL assistance rather than something nothing like the conventional pull.

Just my .02

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]Achilles_Wrath wrote:
Thanks for the reply.

My best conventional pull is 200kg. Not very impressive, I know. I’m a bit below that pulling sumo. But the weaknesses are different. I have a harder time locking out sumo pulls (not at 50-60%, obviously) whereas my conventional usually fails right below the knee.

I guess I’ll try it and see what happens.[/quote]

If that’s your issue, then this is probably not going to help at all.

If your issue is low on the conventional DL, it’s more direct to train deficit deads, snatch grip deads, low rack pulls from just below the sticking point.

If your hips were your issue in the conventional pull, then sumo might help because it hammers the hips harder for most people. But that doesn’t look to be your issue.[/quote]

So in a WS template/programming…would you pull the singles from a deficit (conventional), or would you program it as assistance work (e.g. 4 sets of 6-8 reps)?

[quote]Achilles_Wrath wrote:

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]Achilles_Wrath wrote:
Thanks for the reply.

My best conventional pull is 200kg. Not very impressive, I know. I’m a bit below that pulling sumo. But the weaknesses are different. I have a harder time locking out sumo pulls (not at 50-60%, obviously) whereas my conventional usually fails right below the knee.

I guess I’ll try it and see what happens.[/quote]

If that’s your issue, then this is probably not going to help at all.

If your issue is low on the conventional DL, it’s more direct to train deficit deads, snatch grip deads, low rack pulls from just below the sticking point.

If your hips were your issue in the conventional pull, then sumo might help because it hammers the hips harder for most people. But that doesn’t look to be your issue.[/quote]

So in a WS template/programming…would you pull the singles from a deficit (conventional), or would you program it as assistance work (e.g. 4 sets of 6-8 reps)?[/quote]

You could do either, or you could pull 3s from a deficit instead of singles. I don’t think singles are the best way to train all the time personally. Great for a block of training, but not all the time. Unless you are doing an accumulation of singles through training (e.g. week 1: 3 singles at 92%, week 2: 4 singles, week 3: 6 singles, etc)

I typically like to hammer the weak point all the time. So I would do deficit pulls + assistance work for the same thing (snatch grip dl or rack pulls from below the sticking point), and I’d hammer the weak point every leg session, not just when deadlifting. So if you’re only pulling 1x a week, I’d still do assistance work on that 2x a week. If you’re currently pulling for your ME exercise and doing speed pulls on DE day, I’d do speed pulls from a deficit as well.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]Achilles_Wrath wrote:

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]Achilles_Wrath wrote:
Thanks for the reply.

My best conventional pull is 200kg. Not very impressive, I know. I’m a bit below that pulling sumo. But the weaknesses are different. I have a harder time locking out sumo pulls (not at 50-60%, obviously) whereas my conventional usually fails right below the knee.

I guess I’ll try it and see what happens.[/quote]

If that’s your issue, then this is probably not going to help at all.

If your issue is low on the conventional DL, it’s more direct to train deficit deads, snatch grip deads, low rack pulls from just below the sticking point.

If your hips were your issue in the conventional pull, then sumo might help because it hammers the hips harder for most people. But that doesn’t look to be your issue.[/quote]

So in a WS template/programming…would you pull the singles from a deficit (conventional), or would you program it as assistance work (e.g. 4 sets of 6-8 reps)?[/quote]

You could do either, or you could pull 3s from a deficit instead of singles. I don’t think singles are the best way to train all the time personally. Great for a block of training, but not all the time. Unless you are doing an accumulation of singles through training (e.g. week 1: 3 singles at 92%, week 2: 4 singles, week 3: 6 singles, etc)

I typically like to hammer the weak point all the time. So I would do deficit pulls + assistance work for the same thing (snatch grip dl or rack pulls from below the sticking point), and I’d hammer the weak point every leg session, not just when deadlifting. So if you’re only pulling 1x a week, I’d still do assistance work on that 2x a week. If you’re currently pulling for your ME exercise and doing speed pulls on DE day, I’d do speed pulls from a deficit as well.[/quote]

Awesome. Thanks so much for the advice. I often end up defaulting to Good Mornings, Pull Throughs, RDL and 45 degree back raises for assistance. I’ll definitely throw in some deficit pulls and Snatch Grip DLs to hammer the weak point. Cheers.

@ frankjl,
Great story.
Achilles Wrath - when there is a large disparity, that is a problem, as others have said. Furthermore, take the thought process further and figure out why you stall at a certain point. Then it never hurts to go “bodybuilder” for awhile and address the primary mover that creates the disparity. For example, after years of squatting and pulling wide and training the f— out of my posterior chain and failing at my knees every time, a friend said I had a quad weakness. I was aghast! He went on to explain why the quads were hugely relevant in the dead lift when the bar passes through the knee area. I started doing exercises for them (front squats and lunges) and concentrated on driving my knees through my toes as the bar was approaching and passing my knees. What a difference.

[quote]Rave2.0 wrote:
@ frankjl,
Great story.
Achilles Wrath - when there is a large disparity, that is a problem, as others have said. Furthermore, take the thought process further and figure out why you stall at a certain point. Then it never hurts to go “bodybuilder” for awhile and address the primary mover that creates the disparity. For example, after years of squatting and pulling wide and training the f— out of my posterior chain and failing at my knees every time, a friend said I had a quad weakness. I was aghast! He went on to explain why the quads were hugely relevant in the dead lift when the bar passes through the knee area. I started doing exercises for them (front squats and lunges) and concentrated on driving my knees through my toes as the bar was approaching and passing my knees. What a difference.[/quote]

Yep. This is one reason snatch DLs (and to a lesser extent deficit dls) work–they engage the quads much more than typical deads and simultaneously put the body at a leverage disadvantage. The snatch grip DL also places a large stress on the back so it brings up a lot of people’s back weaknesses (though not all of course).

Front squats are great too, love them. Although if you’re specializing in the deadlift most of the time I like to do pull variations rather than squats because they’re more specific (although that is not a set in stone rule for me either, sometimes the front squat is a much better choice)

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]Rave2.0 wrote:
@ frankjl,
Great story.
Achilles Wrath - when there is a large disparity, that is a problem, as others have said. Furthermore, take the thought process further and figure out why you stall at a certain point. Then it never hurts to go “bodybuilder” for awhile and address the primary mover that creates the disparity. For example, after years of squatting and pulling wide and training the f— out of my posterior chain and failing at my knees every time, a friend said I had a quad weakness. I was aghast! He went on to explain why the quads were hugely relevant in the dead lift when the bar passes through the knee area. I started doing exercises for them (front squats and lunges) and concentrated on driving my knees through my toes as the bar was approaching and passing my knees. What a difference.[/quote]

Yep. This is one reason snatch DLs (and to a lesser extent deficit dls) work–they engage the quads much more than typical deads and simultaneously put the body at a leverage disadvantage. The snatch grip DL also places a large stress on the back so it brings up a lot of people’s back weaknesses (though not all of course).

Front squats are great too, love them. Although if you’re specializing in the deadlift most of the time I like to do pull variations rather than squats because they’re more specific (although that is not a set in stone rule for me either, sometimes the front squat is a much better choice)[/quote]

Great stuff. I’m actually focusing more on the squat right now. My deadlift isn’t great, but my squat is downright shameful (in comparison to other powerlifters, not to the general training populace). I’ve noticed some of the same stuff as Rave noted above. I’ve planned to cycle some front squats in my ME movements to bring my quads up and some snatch grip and deficit stuff to bring up the weakness in the DL.

[quote]Achilles_Wrath wrote:

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]Rave2.0 wrote:
@ frankjl,
Great story.
Achilles Wrath - when there is a large disparity, that is a problem, as others have said. Furthermore, take the thought process further and figure out why you stall at a certain point. Then it never hurts to go “bodybuilder” for awhile and address the primary mover that creates the disparity. For example, after years of squatting and pulling wide and training the f— out of my posterior chain and failing at my knees every time, a friend said I had a quad weakness. I was aghast! He went on to explain why the quads were hugely relevant in the dead lift when the bar passes through the knee area. I started doing exercises for them (front squats and lunges) and concentrated on driving my knees through my toes as the bar was approaching and passing my knees. What a difference.[/quote]

Yep. This is one reason snatch DLs (and to a lesser extent deficit dls) work–they engage the quads much more than typical deads and simultaneously put the body at a leverage disadvantage. The snatch grip DL also places a large stress on the back so it brings up a lot of people’s back weaknesses (though not all of course).

Front squats are great too, love them. Although if you’re specializing in the deadlift most of the time I like to do pull variations rather than squats because they’re more specific (although that is not a set in stone rule for me either, sometimes the front squat is a much better choice)[/quote]

Great stuff. I’m actually focusing more on the squat right now. My deadlift isn’t great, but my squat is downright shameful (in comparison to other powerlifters, not to the general training populace). I’ve noticed some of the same stuff as Rave noted above. I’ve planned to cycle some front squats in my ME movements to bring my quads up and some snatch grip and deficit stuff to bring up the weakness in the DL.[/quote]

Solid plan. If you don’t mind me saying, I think there are a couple things you can do with front squats besides the times it is in your ME exercise cycle.

  1. Start every back squat workout with front squat warm-ups. Start your ME work-up with front squats as the first part of the ramp up, until it gets moderate (not near failure of course), then switch over to back squats. If you squat wide this might not carry over as well and you might choose not to use this, but if narrow then it will really warm up your back as well as legs along with getting a little extra quad volume without costing your recovery.

  2. Use front squats as part of your assistance exercises 90% of the time. Don’t allow very many weeks (or any) to go by without front squats somewhere in the front of the workout whether the warm-up to squat ME OR as assistance in one of the workouts.

Essentially, every single leg workout should have 2 of the following 3 in it: snatch grip dl, deficit dl, front squat. You can vary the sets/reps and where they are in your program (ME vs. assistance), but do an 8 week block of that and I’m pretty sure your max poundages are going to skyrocket after you finish the cycle and maybe recover a bit.

Awesome. Thanks so much for all the help.

Your name sucks

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]Achilles_Wrath wrote:

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]Rave2.0 wrote:
@ frankjl,
Great story.
Achilles Wrath - when there is a large disparity, that is a problem, as others have said. Furthermore, take the thought process further and figure out why you stall at a certain point. Then it never hurts to go “bodybuilder” for awhile and address the primary mover that creates the disparity. For example, after years of squatting and pulling wide and training the f— out of my posterior chain and failing at my knees every time, a friend said I had a quad weakness. I was aghast! He went on to explain why the quads were hugely relevant in the dead lift when the bar passes through the knee area. I started doing exercises for them (front squats and lunges) and concentrated on driving my knees through my toes as the bar was approaching and passing my knees. What a difference.[/quote]

Yep. This is one reason snatch DLs (and to a lesser extent deficit dls) work–they engage the quads much more than typical deads and simultaneously put the body at a leverage disadvantage. The snatch grip DL also places a large stress on the back so it brings up a lot of people’s back weaknesses (though not all of course).

Front squats are great too, love them. Although if you’re specializing in the deadlift most of the time I like to do pull variations rather than squats because they’re more specific (although that is not a set in stone rule for me either, sometimes the front squat is a much better choice)[/quote]

Great stuff. I’m actually focusing more on the squat right now. My deadlift isn’t great, but my squat is downright shameful (in comparison to other powerlifters, not to the general training populace). I’ve noticed some of the same stuff as Rave noted above. I’ve planned to cycle some front squats in my ME movements to bring my quads up and some snatch grip and deficit stuff to bring up the weakness in the DL.[/quote]

Solid plan. If you don’t mind me saying, I think there are a couple things you can do with front squats besides the times it is in your ME exercise cycle.

  1. Start every back squat workout with front squat warm-ups. Start your ME work-up with front squats as the first part of the ramp up, until it gets moderate (not near failure of course), then switch over to back squats. If you squat wide this might not carry over as well and you might choose not to use this, but if narrow then it will really warm up your back as well as legs along with getting a little extra quad volume without costing your recovery.

  2. Use front squats as part of your assistance exercises 90% of the time. Don’t allow very many weeks (or any) to go by without front squats somewhere in the front of the workout whether the warm-up to squat ME OR as assistance in one of the workouts.

Essentially, every single leg workout should have 2 of the following 3 in it: snatch grip dl, deficit dl, front squat. You can vary the sets/reps and where they are in your program (ME vs. assistance), but do an 8 week block of that and I’m pretty sure your max poundages are going to skyrocket after you finish the cycle and maybe recover a bit.[/quote]

I don’t know how value-added this it but I completely agree. When I pushed my front squats, by conventional goes up and when my conventional goes up, my sumo goes up.