Sumo or conventional deadlift?

by Nordic Training Gear 3 min read

Deadlift is one of the most fundamental and powerful exercises in strength training. However, when it comes to technique, there are often two main variants that most people talk about: sumo deadlift or conventional deadlift. In this article, we will explore the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each technique.

1. What's the difference?

  • Sumo deadlift: Here, the feet are positioned wider apart, usually beyond the hand placement. Your hands come between your knees, resulting in a more upright torso position.
  • Conventional deadlift: This style involves a narrower stance with feet about shoulder-width apart. The hands are positioned outside the legs, and the torso leans more forward compared to sumo deadlift.

2. Which muscles are activated?

Both techniques fundamentally train the same muscle groups: back, glutes, thighs, and core. But there are some differences in activation levels:
  • Sumo deadlift: Greater activation of the inner thigh muscles (adductors) and often more emphasis on the quadriceps (front thigh).
  • Conventional deadlift: More stress on the erector spinae (the straight back muscle) and hamstrings (rear thigh).
Sumo or conventional deadlift?
Image Caption: Emil Johansson, a powerlifter, performs sumo deadlift while Marcus Yngvesson, a Strongman competitor, does conventional deadlift.

3. The benefits of chalk in deadlift

For many powerlifters, chalk is an invaluable tool, especially when it comes to deadlift, whether it's sumo or conventional. Here are some benefits of using chalk:
  • Grip strength: Chalk reduces sweat and moisture, enhancing your grip on the bar and reducing the risk of it slipping out of your hands.
  • Improved performance: With a more secure grip, you can lift heavier weights without worrying about losing your grip.
  • Reduced injury risk: A steady grip reduces the risk of the bar slipping, which can prevent injuries.
With these benefits in mind, it's easy to see why chalk is a popular choice for both beginners and pros in powerlifting. Check out our wide range of high-quality chalk here.

4. Pros and cons

Sumo deadlift:
  • Pros: Less strain on the lower back due to a more upright position. Can be advantageous for those with certain back issues or those with longer torsos.
  • Cons: Requires more hip flexibility. Not as natural a movement for some individuals.
Conventional deadlift:
  • Pros: A more natural and functional movement for many. Often easier for beginners to learn.
  • Cons: Higher strain on the lower back, especially if the technique is not correct.

5. Which should you choose?

There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to deadlift. Your choice should be based on:
  • Your body structure: People with longer torsos might find sumo deadlift more comfortable. Meanwhile, those with longer legs might prefer conventional deadlift.
  • Your training goals: Do you want to focus more on inner thigh or front thigh muscles? Choose sumo. Want to put more emphasis on the back and rear thigh? Choose conventional.
  • Comfort and injury history: If you've had back issues in the past, sumo deadlift may reduce strain on your lower back.

5. Conclusion: Sumo or conventional deadlift?

Both sumo and conventional deadlift have their benefits, and the key is to choose the variant that feels best for your body and goals. It doesn't hurt to alternate between the two for a well-rounded workout. Regardless of which style you choose, remember that proper technique is essential to prevent injuries and maximize your workout results.
Nordic Training Gear
Max Andrén
Writer & Co-Owner

Max Andrén is a writer and co-owner of Nordic Training Gear
He has a great passion for gym training and training accessories



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