Might I be better off pulling sumo? (pics)


Level 4 Valued Member
Hey all,

I've recently fiddled around a bit with pulling both conventional and sumo. My sumo is considerably weaker than my conventional, if for no other reason than that I've never properly trained it.

Watching the video of my sets, however, I noticed just how different my back angles were setting up for conventional vs. sumo, and it got me to thinking whether it might be a good idea for me to try to train sumo up to be my primary stance.

The main sticking point for deadlift training has been my hamstrings and lower back just getting completely roasted. With sumo, I feel some of that burden shift to my inner quads (off the floor) and glutes (at the top), as tends to be the case for people with using that stance. Maybe I could run cycles more efficiently without as much burnout?

One other benefit is that unless I pull conventional rather "duck-stanced" (feet pretty close together with toes pointed nearly 45 degrees out), my right foot will continue to rotate out during the pull, no matter what I do about it. I suppose I have some kind of imbalance, or the way my right hip travels through the socket just doesn't agree with the conventional ROM. I do have an SI issue on that side.

I suppose the worst that happens is that I lose some strength off my conventional pull because I'd be training with lower %s of my conventional 1RM / 5RM, at least initially while my sumo catches up.

Honestly, though, the biggest barrier for me is all the things I hear said about sumo all the time - "it's cheating," "it should be banned from powerlifting," "LOL at the ROM," "way to move the weight 2 inches," etc. etc. I've definitely always viewed it as inferior from seeing those kinds of statements all around.

FWIW, this is a "narrow sumo" (i.e. about what you'd use for double kb cleans).

I'm also curious - do most people's sumo and conventional set ups vary this much in back angle?



Level 8 Valued Member
What's your goal? Powerlifting?

It is a good idea to train the different styles and be proficient in all of them. But not just sumo and conventional, but stiff legs, grip width, varying range of motion, etc.

I don't really understand the blabber about the sumo deadlift being wrong in some way. Everyone in the competition plays by the same rules and everyone can alter their styles. And it's not like different styles, anatomical advantages and arbitrary limitations happen only in one of the three lifts.


Level 4 Valued Member
What's your goal? Powerlifting?
Honestly, I just want to get my DL progressing again in a PTTP fashion alongside presses. I found that increasing my DL brought up my squat, and pressing overhead brought up my bench, which I can't train directly due to a shoulder issue. I'm just trying to figure out why some seem to be able to ride PTTP well into the 400s "by the book" (i.e. DL-ing 5x/wk) whereas I hit a wall around just 300x5 and haven't been making progress since.

I wondered if some of it had to do with leverage - some people (shorter femurs) have nearly a 45-degree back angle when they set up for conventional, which seems like it would tax the lower back a lot less and perhaps allow for higher-frequency training.

I've been trying the PTTP 2.0 program, in which you DL 2x/wk, doing your 5-3-2 at your working weight + 2-3 back offs sets at 80% working weight using an alternate stance, which is how I got around to working on sumo. Honestly, though, I miss the high-frequency training of PTTP 1.0. There was something about touching the weights and doing the reps every day Monday - Friday that made for great CNS efficiency.

Honestly, I don't know what my body responds well to - maybe you can only figure that out through trial and error, but that feels like a lot of wasted time doing inefficient things. All I can say is that I've noticed that pretty much every single intermediate program cuts frequency and adds volume, so maybe that's just a proven fact of what you need to do after your "beginner gains" period. Even found a recommendation from Pavel to another trainee in the comments of the Faleev 80/20 program on Tim Ferris's blog in which Pavel recommended the trainee switch to 2x/wk deadlifting after the beginning period.

So, I guess I need to just accept the lower-frequency aspect of things and then figure out how much volume my body actually needs on each of those 2 training day to make progress, because sometimes I come back to the weight after rest days and it feels heavier than the previous session.


Steve Freides

Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I'm also curious - do most people's sumo and conventional set ups vary this much in back angle?
You should train sumo for a while. A competitor will train both but, in competition, use the form which lets him/her lift the most weight.

Back angle is going to be dictated by not only the sumo/conventional choice but limb length, stance width, grip width, etc.


Philippe Geoffrion

Level 6 Valued Member
Bringing up your sumo can only help your conventional deadlift. And if it doesn't but you get stronger at it, then maybe sumo is for you. No one can tell you this for you, except maybe an experience watchful coach. Sumo seems better for high frequency, though that's not dogma, as long as loading and form are taken into account. If there is an issue with your conventional deadlift, it must be addressed immediately so as to not be practiced and made habit. If you're practicing the wrong groove over and over again, you are only engraining a wrong technique over and over again.

I feel the set-up can almost be more exhausting than the lift itself. My most successful run with PTTP is when the weights felt lighter as I progressed, even though they went up because I always practiced the weight as if they were heavy, even when starting @ 70 % of a 5Rm. Thus the load on the bar became secondary to the practice of the lift and as the weights grew, the effort remained similar, sometimes even easier.

Give sumo a try. What do you have to lose? And to answer your question, my sumo and conventional stance are done exactly the same way as one another, the foot position just changes, as I also pull very narrow in the sumo and conventional stance. The back is slightly more acute in my conventional deadlift, as it should be.
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