Is Sumo Deadlift a Cheat?
The deadlift, in which you lift the bar off the ground and stand with it, is both one of the easiest barbell lifts and one of the most difficult. But what happens if you do the lift with your legs extended to the sides? Does this make it less of an achievement?
If you hear whiny Instagram commentators talk about it, the sumo deadlift is cheating because extending the legs shortens the barbell lift distance. Less ROM or range of motion means you make it easier to climb. In theory, this makes sense.
But does the sumo stance really make the climb easier? And if so, is it enough to deceive?
Let’s look at the deadlift rules.
Recall that the concept of deception only makes sense in the context of rules . So what are the rules?
In major powerlifting federations, the width of your position is up to you. For example, here is the US Powerlifting Code of Practice . There is a lifting federation that calls itself Powerlifting, which bans sumo, but they also run powerlifting competitions, and when they do, sumo is allowed .
Strongman does not have a consistent set of rules, although sumo is generally not permitted in deadlift competitions. However, this depends on the promoter. If you’re attending a strongman competition, be sure to ask if sumo is legal if you prefer to pull sumo. Sumo would not be a scam because he just can’t get away with gaining a secret advantage; it will just bring you a denial of reputation.
But is one of these racks lighter than the other? There is a simple way to answer this question – an unequivocal “no”. Just look at the top world record powerlifters and deadlifts. Heck, looking at average lifters will get you the same answer. Someone pulls sumo, someone – the usual. If the sumo deadlift allows you to lift more weight, everyone will pull sumo.
Here’s an example of what you would see if one stance had an overall advantage: In weightlifting, people used a “split snatch” with one leg in front and the other back. When the lifters figured out how to do the squat jerk with their legs, they realized that it was more efficient with training and allowed the lifters to move more weight. Both split and squat are allowed today, but almost all squat jerks. This is what happens when two styles are valid, but one is clearly better. In powerlifting, this just wasn’t the case with the deadlift.
What are the pros and cons of sumo deadlift?
As many of the guys who answered the questions will happily note, one of the main benefits of sumo is that it reduces the distance the barbell has to travel, albeit by only a few inches.
This reduced ROM is most noticeable in short athletes, including many female athletes. I am convinced that assholes like to insist on cheating sumo because they are looking for a way to discredit women’s exercise. (Another common insult is that sumo is “gay.”)
But sumo has its drawbacks. You are in a less advantageous position to start the lift as it lifts off the floor. For most people, the sumo deadlift is more difficult to lift off the floor and easier to complete; A regular deadlift (with feet together) is a little easier to start, but can be harder to block.
In fact, the choice of stance depends on preference and body proportions. One theory states that athletes with short arms or long chested tend to do better at sumo ; those with the opposite opinion do better with the usual. Another claims it has more to do with the shape of the hip joint . In any case, it depends on the person.
How to get the best of both worlds
As with everything in the gym, the best way to find out what works for you is to try it. Get a trainer or watch some good tutorials on traditional deadlift and sumo techniques, and spend some time doing things you don’t normally do. Consider the transition after a while. Chances are, one will suit you better than the other. If they are both about the same, congratulations, you can flip a coin or just pick whichever sport you want to play. (Are you eyeing strength competition? Accurate traditional deadlift is a good investment for you.)
So you can do the deadlift in any way you want, and please don’t tell those using the opposite stance that they are doing it wrong. If you’re pulling regular tax and are jealous of someone’s sumo pull, feel free to try sumo! But if you can’t lift more weight than your regular deadlift, that should be a hint that sumo isn’t really a scam. Maybe you’re just jealous.