THE 5 BEST DEADLIFT TIPS FOR SUMO PULLERS!
As an elite powerlifter competing for 4 years, I've learned a lot about sumo deadlifting along the way. One thing I realized when it comes to pulling sumo is that its all TECHNIQUE. You need to learn to get into the right hip positioning, need to know how to use your legs and glutes, the right grip and stance, etc. It's something you can't PERFECT in a week or month. I've learned that it takes years to achieve a phenomenal form and to get comfortable with sumo.
My deadlift has always been my best lift. I knew this when I first picked up a bar in my freshman year in college. Only deadlifting conventional for 2 months, I ended up pulling 500lbs, at one point, most considered to be a huge goal. Fast forward to 4 years later and now I'm almost pulling 700lbs sumo. Furthermore, my highest pull in the meet was 645lbs, which was back at USAPL Raw nationals in October. Just last week, I pulled 683lbs in the gym. I would say that my deadlift has become an elite, maybe above the average lift for the 83kg class, which is why I want to share some tips with you.
1. Technique is everything
If you're just learning sumo, expect to be experimenting ALOT overtime! I've found that it takes years for a lifter to perfect sumo. Especially if you're coming from a conventional deadlift background. It's a different type of movement. You'll end up wanting to try to pull conventional in a sumo stance such as using more lower back then you should, which is why you'll see a lot of rookie sumo pullers pull with their lower back to mid back, which ends up rounding. You should also have good hip mobility because sumo is all about having strong hip positioning. If you're not in a good position, you're not going to be able to pull heavy and progress. This is different for all lifters. You have to feel it out and see where your hips feel comfortable, higher or lower. Recording your videos from the side will also help to see how your hips are towards the bar.
2. You could get away with deadlifting once a week
Most lifters think that adding more frequency to a certain lift will improve it. While that could be very true, I don't think this applies to deadlift, at least sumo. Deadlifts overall are very taxing. It fries your CNS (Central Nervous System), so it requires more time to recover. Furthermore, if you're squatting 3 to 4 times a week, that in itself is very taxing, but this also transitions well for sumo pullers because it technically works the same muscles like your glutes, hips, and legs. As long as you have enough volume and accessories to assist sumo deadlifting, you could get away with pulling once a week. I only pull once a week and my deadlift has been progressing at a smooth rate. At most, I would say if you feel that you need more frequency, two times a week would be MORE than enough. One day for strength and another day for just light technique work or an accessory deadlift.
3. The best deadlift accessory are pause deadlifts
I am all for pause deadlifts. I think that they are the only assisted accessory that actually works, at least for me. If you think about it, pause deadlifts helps you to keep tension. When you're pausing the bar, you're engaging more muscles. I usually pause about two to three inches below my knee and that's where I feel you're able to get the best out of it. Mentally, its also a good way for lifters to be confident and be patient with the bar. Not only that, but it also helps strengthen your grip just by pausing it. Since I only deadlift once per week, I throw these in after my back offs. It's definitely more difficult especially after back offs, but you could also add these in your second deadlift day if you choose to do more frequency.
4. Patience is key
Sumo is all about being patient off the floor. You have to exert more energy from the floor. Once that bar comes off the floor, the lockout is the easy part. I'm not saying that to keep pulling until you pass out, but you can't expect that it's going to come off the floor easily. Patience also means that remembering all your technique cues and perfecting the rep. One little misgroove could make the lift worse than it should.
5. If you have not switched to hook grip, you should...
What I found out is that mixed grip or over under grip does not work well for sumo pullers just because your hands are rolling against your thighs. A good example would be if you're pulling mixed grip, your under hand would be rolling against your quads/thighs causing the lockout to be difficult. This is what hook grip would help resolve. You're able to achieve an even lockout and aesthetically it looks nicer :) Furthermore, lets talk about balance. The problem with doing mixed grip over time is that there is an unequal power distribution. There is going to be one hand that might pull quicker than the other. You might see that in some lifters when they pull mixed grip. It's because you're favoring one side over the other. Hook grip helps to prevent that since both hands are double overhand. Furthermore, I was told from other lifters that when they switched over to pulling hook grip, they did not have any hip discomfort compared to when they pulled mixed grip. This makes sense because like I said there is an unequal distribution of power. Its not symmetrical so in mixed grip, one side might be compensating a lot more causing hip pain or discomfort. Your thumbs will hurt for a little, but once you get used to it, it should be fine :) Lastly, by pulling hook grip, you reduce injuring your biceps since pulling mixed grip, you're basically almost curling one side, which causes a high risk of bicep tears. I've seen videos of it and it's cringy.
So that's all I have in terms of deadlift tips for sumo pullers. I'm pretty sure I'm going to add more to this list along the way, but it's all I have. Hopefully, it will help you learn more about sumo deadlifting and how to be more efficient at it.