Your Definitive Guide to the Conventional Deadlift Vs. Sumo Deadlift

If you happen to’re an everyday gymgoer, it’s possible you’ll know that the sumo deadlift will get some unhealthy press. The age-old argument rages on — is the sumo deadlift cheating? Many argue that it’s an train in its personal proper, with distinctive advantages (to not point out being a authorized carry in powerlifting).

The standard deadlift is a mainstay within the coaching program of most energy sports activities, and the sumo’s received some catching as much as do. However it may repay in spades. Right here, we’ll break down the variations between these lifts and when to decide on one over the opposite.

Sumo vs Conventional Deadlift
Credit score: Jacob Lund (left) and MDV Edwards (proper) / Shutterstock

Regardless of what you might have heard in regards to the sumo deadlift, it actually packs a punch by way of advantages for a lot of lifters. Learn on to determine which to decide on, and whether or not yow will discover a spot for each of those lifts in your program. While you need to increase strength, each of those lifts could be mighty highly effective. So let’s get into the battle.

Desk of Contents

Editor’s Word: The content material on BarBend is supposed to be informative in nature, but it surely shouldn’t be taken as medical recommendation. When beginning a brand new coaching routine and/or weight-reduction plan, it’s at all times a good suggestion to seek the advice of a trusted medical skilled. We aren’t a medical useful resource. The opinions and articles on this website aren’t supposed to be used as analysis, prevention, and/or remedy of well being issues. They aren’t substitutes for consulting a certified medical skilled.

Key Variations

To the untrained eye, it might appear like there’s not a lot distinction between the 2, however in actuality, this modification in approach has a much bigger impression than you’d suppose. Listed below are simply the primary ticket variations.

  • Within the standard deadlift, your ft are about hip-width aside and your arms grip the bar exterior your legs. With a sumo stance, your legs are a lot farther aside, and your arms grip the bar inside your legs.
  • Whereas the standard hits the entire posterior chain, the sumo’s heavy on the quads and glutes.
  • The standard focuses on the pull movement from the decrease again, however the sumo is all in regards to the legs.
  • The general vary of movement from the bottom to the lockout place is usually shorter with sumo deadlifts.

Key Similarities 

The idea behind the standard and sumo deadlift is equivalent — take one thing heavy, and carry it off the ground. 

Muscle mass Labored

The standard deadlift places extra emphasis than the sumo deadlift in your decrease again. For its half, the sumo deadlift taxes the quads greater than pulling standard. Nonetheless, each lifts do recruit the next muscle teams:

  • Glutes: Your glutes are important for locking out each variations of the carry. Due to the broader stance, the sumo deadlift might tax your glutes extra.
  • Decrease Again: Your erector spinae are concerned in supporting and stabilizing the sumo deadlift, however the standard deadlift is the one that may go the additional mile towards forging a stronger decrease again.
  • Higher Again: Your lats, rhomboids, and scaps are concerned in stabilizing the bar in each lifts, however their involvement could also be much more apparent within the standard stance.
  • Quads: The sumo deadlift depends extra closely in your quads than the standard model, although a powerful follow-through along with your quads contributes to a powerful standard lockout.
  • Hamstrings: Simply because the sumo deadlift depends a bit extra in your quads, the standard deadlift locations extra emphasis on the backs of your legs — your hamstrings.

When to Do Standard Deadlifts

If you happen to’re not within the temper to be accused of dishonest by your sumo-hating gym friend, you would possibly need to pull standard. Listed below are another circumstances during which you would possibly prioritize a standard pull.

As a Newbie

Typically, it’s simpler to grasp the approach for a standard deadlift than sumo. It is because standard doesn’t require as a lot hip mobility, and the place might really feel extra comfy. This is perhaps very true if you’re transitioning to the barbell deadlift from dumbbell or kettlebell deadlifts, that are sometimes carried out in a standard stance.

A beginner being coached on doing a deadlift.
Credit score: TORWAISTUDIO / Shutterstock

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For a lot of newcomers, it could be really useful to get used to pulling from the ground on this place earlier than transferring on to variants, such because the sumo deadlift. 

To Construct Practical Energy

If you happen to’re trying to improve energy on a purposeful degree, it’s possible you’ll need to go for the standard model. This makes use of a place and vary of movement that’s extra pure to many individuals. It additionally depends on hinging your hips, which is a key movement pattern of purposeful health. 

The energy you construct throughout a standard deadlift has extra carryover to sports activities efficiency and day-to-day life than its sumo counterpart. For that reason, many individuals favor the standard deadlift.

If You’re a Strongman Athlete, CrossFitter, or Weightlifter

Sure sports activities name for the standard deadlift. You’ll be able to completely combine the sumo deadlift into your program even when your sport doesn’t use it in competitors. Nonetheless, the standard deadlift is the one authorized type in strongwoman and strongman competitions, so working towards and constructing energy in that model is crucial there.

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As for weightlifters, the standard stance of a deadlift has a extra direct carryover to the positions and leverages required for the snatch and clean & jerk. For CrossFitters, the identical reasoning applies, as Olympic lifts play a giant position in competitors. A traditional stance can also be extra conducive to the sorts of high-rep deadlifting that can also be usually featured in CrossFit.

When to Do Sumo Deadlifts

Although sumo deadlifts had a foul repute in some circles, they’re a wonderful selection for athletes aiming to up their one-rep max.

If You Have Lengthy Legs or Brief Arms

Though many newcomers might discover it simpler to begin with standard pulling, there are some caveats to this. For instance, athletes with shorter arms, longer legs, or decrease again points would possibly really feel extra comfy with sumo proper from the get-go.

Athletes with lengthy legs will usually want a big quantity of knee bend of their hip hinge to soundly attain the bar. These with shorter arms may additionally want a extra beneficiant bend to seize the bar. Widening your legs right into a sumo stance means that you can give your self the leverages you want with out placing a disproportionate quantity of pressure in your decrease again.

When You Wish to Pull Heavy

Typically it simply feels good to carry heavy. And typically, it’s worthwhile to take it to absolutely the restrict for a powerlifting meet. The broader leg stance for sumo works to artificially shorten your legs, decreasing the vary of movement it’s worthwhile to transfer the burden by means of. This implies most lifters can pull extra weight utilizing sumo. 

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Due to this shorter vary of movement, the sumo deadlift is commonly the selection for aggressive powerlifters as it could permit them to carry heavier. That stated, loads of lifters accomplish unimaginable feats of energy utilizing a standard stance, maybe particularly strongman athletes. So whereas sumo might have an edge right here, it is determined by what you’re trying to accomplish.

If Your Decrease Again is Bothering You

Whether or not you’ve persistent decrease again points otherwise you merely need to give it a relaxation after placing it beneath a whole lot of pressure, sumo deadlifting places much less stress in your decrease again. You probably have persistent ache or an damage, you’ll probably need to clear any lifting with a health care provider or bodily therapist. 

When you’re cleared, the sumo deadlift might set you up for extra success. The broader stance will help you keep extra upright, inserting much less pressure in your backbone. Pushing by means of the ground along with your quads can even assist take the load off your decrease again.

Methods to Do Standard Deadlifts

First issues first: be sure you are accustomed to the ever-important hip hinge. As soon as you might be, you may get began.

Methods to Do Sumo Deadlifts

For all their variations, the sumo deadlift isn’t going to occur all that in another way from the standard model. However the set-up will nonetheless be key.

  • Stroll as much as the bar. As a substitute of inserting your shoulders over the bar, this time they begin consistent with the bar. 
  • Take a large stance. Flip your toes out to 45 levels, guaranteeing that your stance is large sufficient on your elbows to remain inside your knees whereas reaching right down to grip the bar. 
  • Along with your shins perpendicular to the ground, a near-vertical torso, and a flat again, grip the bar at shoulder width. A combined grip or double overhand grip is okay, although a combined grip might really feel tougher.
  • Maintain your core tight, such as you’re bracing to be punched within the abdomen, and keep away from arching into your decrease again. Press by means of your ft whereas pulling barely on the bar and fascinating your core, shoulders, and entire posterior chain. 
  • Breathe in, drive arduous by means of your ft, and let the bar rise. There’s a lot leg drive right here, it may really feel like an inverse squat — it could really assist to faux you’re “squatting the bar up”. 
  • Transfer your physique in sync, with out permitting your chest to fall or your butt to rise. Maintain the bar near your physique and squeeze your glutes as you arise. 
  • Driving your hips ahead will help if the bar stalls at your knees. To complete, stand tall as an alternative of leaning again into the lockout place.
  • Decrease to the bottom with management.

For each lifts, there’s loads of additional tools that may degree up your deadlifts whether or not you’re capturing for sumo or standard. These shin scrapes we talked about? Typically scrapes occur even once you’re utilizing spherical plates, and this may be simply mounted by carrying tall socks or knee sleeves pulled right down to your shins. 

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Severe lifters usually use a weightlifting belt, as this immediately boosts the burden you’ll be able to carry and the reps you’ll be able to carry out. Lifting straps may also be a helpful addition in case your grip energy is limiting your progress with both standard or sumo deadlifts. 

The best footwear will degree up your deadlift too — one thing with a flat sole the place your weight is distributed evenly, both weightlifting shoes or one thing like Converse Chuck Taylors are an ideal choice. 

Keep away from running shoes just like the plague — the form of the soles will distribute your weight erratically throughout the carry. If you happen to don’t need to spend money on lifting footwear, be happy to go shoeless, however some gyms aren’t eager on you strolling round in socks. Watch out to dodge any stray weights that might roll over your ft for those who go for this feature. 

Advantages of Standard Deadlifts

The standard deadlift hits the posterior chain arduous, making it a key element in most athletes’ coaching regimens. It’s an ideal choice for those who’ve received lengthy arms in comparison with your torso, and could also be the best choice for those who’re working round sure hip or knee accidents.

Targets the Again, Hamstrings, and Calves

If you happen to’re on the lookout for a beast of a lower back exercise, the standard deadlift’s your winner. The entire posterior chain comes into play throughout this carry, extra so than the sumo — which makes use of a whole lot of quads. 

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The standard deadlift works your erector spinae and hamstrings and recruits all of the stabilizing constructions of your decrease again. That is superior information for constructing decrease again energy and stability. 

Higher for Athletes With Hip or Knee Accidents

The character of the standard deadlift implies that much less stress is positioned on the hip and knee joints than with the sumo deadlift. With standard, additional load is positioned on the decrease again which takes some stress off the hips and knees. This might assist to scale back hip and knee accidents and keep away from flaring up previous accidents which might be already there. 

Might Be Simpler for Athletes With Longer Arms

You probably have lengthy arms relative to your torso, you’re in for a deal with with the standard deadlift. Longer arms imply much less distance to tug the burden, so you’ll be able to carry heavier because of the shorter vary of motion that the burden must journey. 

Cons of Standard Deadlifts

The standard deadlift has quite a bit going for it. The lifting model is most individuals’s go-to relating to ripping heavy weight off the bottom. But it surely’s not the end-all-be-all of the deadlifting world.

Might Not Be In a position to Carry as Heavy

Many lifters simply can’t transfer as a lot weight conventionally as they will with a sumo place. That’s as a result of there could be a shorter vary of movement with pulling sumo than there may be with pulling standard. Due to that — and since you’ll have extra help out of your legs and fewer stress in your decrease again — you might be able to carry extra sumo-style.

Many powerlifters choose to carry sumo for that reason. Whereas some lifters are stronger in a standard stance as a result of it’s what they’re used to, others really feel naturally stronger in a sumo place and domesticate it accordingly. If you happen to haven’t tried sumo, you is perhaps stunned by how a lot much less you had been pulling conventionally.

More durable on the Decrease Again

Whereas the standard deadlift actually isn’t unhealthy for you, it places much more stress on the decrease again. In some senses, that’s a superb factor, as a result of it means it may make your decrease again an entire lot stronger.

An athlete doing a regular barbell deadlift in the gym.
Credit score: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

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However alternatively, in case your decrease again is bothering you otherwise you’re recovering from an damage, the standard deadlift would possibly worsen ache or stiffness greater than a sumo pull. The standard model includes a deeper hip hinge and a extra compromising (barely extra horizontal) place on your again.

Advantages of Sumo Deadlifts

The sumo deadlift hits the hips, glutes, and quads. In consequence, it locations much less stress on the decrease again. This might enable you to work round decrease again accidents. It additionally requires extra vary of movement out of your hips, so common sumo coaching will help to enhance hip mobility.

Extra Leg Activation

Simply as standard is the king of the decrease again, sumo takes the crown in case your focus is on the decrease physique and legs. The sumo deadlift locations extra deal with the hips, glutes, and quads than the standard deadlift. 

Analysis exhibits pulling sumo could also be higher than the standard deadlift at recruiting the vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and tibialis anterior (the quads and shin muscle tissue). (1)

Might Be Higher if You Have a Decrease Again Damage

By inserting extra deal with the glutes and quads, the sumo deadlift takes a few of the stress off the decrease again. That is nice information for those who’ve received a janky decrease again that’s limiting your deadlift progress. 

Shear forces on the decrease again are typically a lot much less in sumo deadlifts than their standard counterpart, which might cut back the potential for decrease again accidents. (2)

Improves Hip Mobility 

The sumo deadlift includes inserting your hips into exterior rotation (ft pointing outwards) and abduction (legs aside). To get a superb sumo place, it’s worthwhile to have good hip mobility. To some folks, it is a barrier. However why not see it as a problem? The easiest way to get nice hip mobility is to follow actions that require it. 

A bodybuilder starting to do a sumo deadlift.
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

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If you happen to don’t have sumo-level hip mobility simply but, don’t sweat it. There are many drills you can begin with to make your hips extra versatile and cellular, so you’ll be able to construct your manner as much as your first sumo. 

Cons of Sumo Deadlifts

Other than avoiding the ire of anti-sumo lifters, there are some causes you would possibly need to keep away from this model of pulling.

First issues first: sumo deadlifting isn’t authorized in strongwoman and strongman competitions. If you wish to grasp deadlifting occasions in that sport, you’re going to must get very sturdy in a standard stance.

Now, that doesn’t imply that you could’t ever pull sumo as a strongman athlete. You completely can achieve this in coaching. However by way of getting particular, competition-centric abilities and strengths, the sumo deadlift simply received’t do the trick.

Doesn’t Carry Over as Strongly Into Olympic Lifts

If you happen to’re performing Olympic lifts in both CrossFit or weightlifting, the sumo carry simply received’t be as useful as a standard pull. The stance you’ll want to make use of whereas weightlifting is way more just like that of a standard carry, which implies that the sumo isn’t going to translate in the identical manner.

Young adult athlete doing heavy sumo deadlift exercise in gym club.
Credit score: Ajan Alen / Shutterstock

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To not point out that standard deadlifts work your decrease again within the pull and your higher again in stabilizing the bar. Your again can even assist in the sumo variation, however the standard positioning will allow you to recruit much more again muscle. Along with the place itself, that is one more reason that the sumo deadlift might need an inferior carryover into Olympic lifts.

Weigh Your Choices

Whereas each lifts have key advantages, the final word selection for you’ll rely in your fitness goals. For 2 lifts that look comparable from a distance, these are remarkably totally different actions and also you’ll construct energy in numerous muscle tissue relying on the carry you select as your favourite. 

That being stated, keep in mind you don’t want to decide on a favourite. These two work nice in tandem and as you construct energy in a single carry, you’ll have a constructive impression on the opposite. 


The talk about these two lifts is rife with debate and even outright contempt. Listed below are some highly-charged questions (and solutions) to remember on your subsequent verbal sparring session on the platform.

Is sumo deadlifting dishonest?

Whereas there are as many opinions in energy sports activities as there are energy athletes, “no” appears to be a superb reply. If the principles of a sport permit sumo deadlifting — as powerlifting does — then it’s allowed. It’s not permitted in strongman competitions, although, so that you’ll run into obstacles there.

Nonetheless, there’s arguably no dishonest in coaching. The sumo deadlift is a legitimate choice when you’ve got decrease again points, lengthy legs, quick arms, or just need to construct your quads, give your again a relaxation, or give your physique a brand new coaching stimulus. You may additionally merely favor the carry.

Which is best, the standard or sumo deadlift?

The higher carry is whichever most accurately fits your physique and your objectives. If you happen to favor one mode of lifting over the opposite due to your physique kind, then that’s probably the superior choice for you. However, if it’s worthwhile to practice a sure carry for competitors, that needs to be your predominant choice.

Can I do the standard and sumo deadlift?

There’s nothing incorrect with utilizing each lifts in your program so long as you’re permitting for ample restoration. You would possibly alternate your predominant carry every week throughout a selected coaching block. Alternatively, you would possibly select to finish one coaching block utilizing completely standard deadlifts and observe it up with a coaching block the place you completely pull sumo.


  1. Escamilla, R.F., Francisco, A.C., Kayes, A.V., Speer, Ok.P., & Moorman, C.T. (2002). An Electromyographic Evaluation of Sumo and Standard Fashion Deadlifts. Drugs & Science in Sports activities & Train, 34(4), 682–688.
  2. Cholewicki, J., McGill, S. M., & Norman, R. W. (1991). Lumbar backbone hundreds throughout the lifting of extraordinarily heavy weights. Drugs and Science in Sports activities and Train, 23(10), 1179–1186. 

Featured picture: Jacob Lund (left) and MDV Edwards (proper) / Shutterstock

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