What is it?
A popular variation on the compound exercise, the sumo deadlift involves picking a dead weight off the floor as in a standard deadlift however your stance is different. Instead of starting with legs shoulder-width apart and arms hanging by your sides, as in the conventional deadlift, you need to start with legs wide apart and arms hanging down between your legs. It can be performed with a barbell, kettle bell or dumbbell turned on its side.
Why use it?
As a compound exercise the sumo deadlift works many muscles and can be used as part of a strength program. The main difference with sumo stance is that it involves the legs much more than the back and so it’s good to involve in your leg routine or just to add a bit of variety from the standard deadlift. Due to the wider stance you work the inside of your legs (adductors). An advantage of the sumo stance is that there is less distance for the bar to travel as you are already closer to the ground, it might suit you better depending on your body structure.
Foot position – find something that is comfortable for you, there is no ‘right’ way of doing things.
The two things you need to consider are:
How far apart are your feet – The wider you have your feet the better, but this can be uncomfortable on the hips, the most comfortable position will vary from person to person. Try a few different distances and see how they feel.
How far out to turn your feet – It is better to turn the foot out as close to 90 degrees as possible, the more your feet are turned out the easier it is on your knees and hips as your feet are more in line with your leg. However you may find it harder to balance.
- Having positioned your feet in the way you want them under the bar, squat down and take hold of the bar.
- Arms should be hanging straight down between your legs and should grip the bar where they naturally hang with an overhand or mixed grip.
- Be careful not to bend at the elbows.
- Shoulders should be back and down.
- Your backside should be right down as close to parallel with the floor as you can get it.
- Try to keep your knees in line with your toes as much as possible throughout the lift.
- Take a deep breath in.
- As you start to lift the bar, the power is coming from your legs and your hips being driven forward. Really focus on pushing through your heels hard and then drive your hips forward.
- Keep the bar as close to your body as you can.
- Keep your knees in line with your feet.
- Continue pushing through the legs until you reach the lock out position drive through the hips.
- Lower the bar to the floor keeping a controlled movement (don’t drop it!) do the reverse of the starting movement. Keep you back flat and your shoulders back, with the bar close to your body.
Main muscle – Erector Spinae (lower back)
Assisting muscles - Gluteus Maximus (backside); Adductor Magnus; (inside leg); Quadriceps (thigh); Soleus (calf).
Dynamic stabilizers – Hamstring (back of leg) ; Gastrocnemius (calf)
Stabilizers – Trapezius (upper back); Levator Scapulae (neck); Rhomboids (upper middle back)
Please do not hesitate to ask one of the trainers to give you a demo if you are unsure about any part of the exercise.
Oli Alliston-Greinier, Personal Trainer, Caversham Health & Fitness
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