In this photo the author shows the different hand spacings possible in the sumo deadlift. These vary from narrow to wide. Find the place where the arms are hanging lowest for you. Note lines on wall and in back for relationship. Remember, an inch or so can make quite a difference.
Above you see the Sumo squat which conditions and strengthens the inner thighs and is helpful in the Sumo deadlift.
The photos above show the foot angles and the erectness of the body with the toes or feet spread outward. You will find that the hips are lower, the back more erect and the arms in a better position for the initial drive off the floor. When the bar is lifted it will be nearer to the main fulcrum, the hip area. In the photo on the right, when the feet are pointed a little more straight ahead the hips tend to raise more in the initial break off the floor. The back will probably bow, causing shock absorber effect. Bar and hands will come up more in front of the legs, not inside as shown in the photo at left. Thus, the bar will be farther down from the fulcrum, which will not be as strong a position.
These two photos show the feet pretty much straight ahead in the top photo and pointed out in the bottom one. Pointing them out assists you as mentioned above, and in keeping your back straighter and getting a better pulling position.
Above we have a photo showing the hand spacing at the start of the deadlift, then in erect position, showing the spacing that seems to fit this style of deadlift. You start with the hands inside the knees and finish with the hands just outside the thighs as shown. This position allows you to use more muscles in a uniform manner and it effects the legs, hips, glutes and back. In the third photo above we see the author using the isokinetic machine for deadlifts with the feet wide and the toes pointed out. This machine is very helpful due to the fact that all areas are worked to their maximum through a complete range of motion. The governor of the machine is shown in the bottom of the picture. It automatically adjusts to muscle strength throughout the full range.
Deadlifts - Sumo Style
by Hollie Evett (1980)
In my opinion, the wide stance or sumo style deadlift is the most efficient way to deadlift. I wish to discuss why it is so efficient.
Some of the points are:
1.) Shorter stroke than the conventional deadlift.
2.) Sumo style takes advantage of tremendous hip and leg power.
3.) Hands placed on the inside of the legs allow for the bar to be closer to the major fulcrums, which are the gluteus and upper thigh.
4.) By using the sumo style, full advantage is taken of all the time spent squatting. Squats are the most important assistance exercise for the wide stance deadlift.
In understanding the proper forms of the sumo style, it is important to know the major fulcrum part. They are ankles, knees, hips, gluteus, lower and possibly upper back. To take advantage of the sumo style, it is important to use all of the muscles and fulcrum points together and at the same time. If this is done properly it can result in a very explosive and smooth lift. If the muscles are developed properly and proper form is maintained, there should not be a specific strain on any one muscle group.
An important factor is to deadlift in a flat foot or flat soled shoe. Weight should be distributed in the mid-sole area when starting the lift. If heels are used there will be a tendency to throw the hips up and shoulders forward. This will result in the bar getting out in front of the legs and away from the main fulcrum area.
Hand spacing is important, too. If the hands are too narrow the shoulders tend to squeeze together, thus binding the trapezius muscles. I the grip is too wide, it means the bar will have to be lifted higher to finish the lift.
The best way to find your hand spacing is to stand in front of a mirror, make a fist, hands down at the side, knuckles toward mirror. Move the hands out and into the side. Notice that their is a point where the hands hang the lowest. This probably would be the most efficient spacing for you (see top photo).
Foot spacing is variable but several factors should be kept in mind. The wider the stance, the shorter and slower the stroke. It is a little more difficult to maintain balance at the top or finish. A narrower stance will be more explosive but it will be a longer stance.
I prefer basically the same heel stance as my squat, with my toes pointed out slightly more than when squatting. The toes being pointed out is important for efficient form. This allows the lift to be started and maintained with the weight in the middle of the sole of the feet. It also allows for the bar to be kept in close inside the legs when deadlifting. Remember the factor, to stay close to the fulcrum.
With proper foot spacing and toes spread apart further than the heels, it gives more time to think of the involvement of the legs. Most people try to lift with their frontal thighs. This is not entirely correct. Much of the power is generated by the adductor or groin muscle. This is important because the knees must remain spread apart so the hands, arms and bar can remain close to the fulcrum.
It is important to have the hips down, back arched, stomach tight and arms straight when starting the deadlift. If this is not done, the explosiveness at the start of the deadlift is lost. The above body parts, if not in proper position, will act as a shock absorber and reduce the momentum that is applied to the bar.
It is not necessary to put the hips down excessively. Remember, the legs are stronger in a half-squat position than below parallel.
The sequence of the sumo deadlift would be:
1.) A visual picture is made of form, explosiveness and completion of the lift before the bar is touched;
2.) The var is touched to the shins (toes spread apart) in proper stance;
3.) The bar is torqued and squeezed for the grip;
4.) Hips are cocked down with back arched, stomach tight, shoulders back, arms ;
5.) As soon as the hips are cocked down and explosion erupts (remember the reformed effect).
The feet are pushed through the floor, inside top legs squeezed together (adducted) and pulled at the same time.
The bar will travel in a straight line from the floor to the completion of the lift.
Usually sumo deadlifts with heavy weights are better to do as singles than as repetitions. This makes it easier to concentrate on explosiveness and form. If repetitions are done the first rep has good form and then the form gets progressively worse as more repetitions are done.
Muscles can be developed and strengthened through a variety of assistance work. Some of the favorites are? bent knee situps, shrugs, leg presses, calf work, hyperextensions, lat rows, grip work, isometrics and self hypnosis.
I would like to elaborate on a favorite of mine. This exercise can be done with weight of with the isokinetic power rack. If a weight is used it can not be so heavy that form is lost. The exercise is done doing the deadlift from the floor to knees and back down. This exercise works the adductors and helps prevent a groin injury. It is also an excellent time to practice explosiveness.
The advantage to the isokinetic power rack is that heavier resistance can be used with strict form. The reason for this is that the principal of isokinetics is that the resistance accommodates the force applied. Thus, there can be a maximum resistance throughout any range of motion either long or short.
I would like to make a couple of minor observations: Straps are extremely valuable as they allow for total concentration on explosiveness without fear of losing the grip. If this is done, a little extra work on the grip is necessary. If straps are used in a workout, they should not be used until they are necessary because the arms need conditioning for the reverse grip. This minor thing could prevent a biceps pull on the arm that is reversed during a meet.
It is a good idea to keep the fingernails cut and callouses filed down. A pumice stone can be purchased and is excellent for callous removal.
An article by Hollie Evett on The Incline Squat is here:
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