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  • Thinking of switching to Sumo


    My deadlift is a mess and I am pretty much over the frustration. I doubt my 1RM max has moved in at least 2 years after climbing pretty quickly. Over that time, I have asked for form checks, watched videos until I was blue in the face, read articles and did different accessory lifts. I am 47 and I have had a couple of setbacks with vacations that have set back strength and a few injuries. That being said I am still sure I should not be in the same spot I was in 2 years ago. Last time I tried pulling a 1rm it was 375lbs and recently about 5 weeks ago pulled 370lbs without a lot of issues. It was probably about 9 to 9.5 so I was getting much else out of it.
    While I have not really tested them I am sure my other lifts have progressed some at least. For example, two days ago I did a squat at 360 that I would have put at 8. Last time I tried my 1rm was 370 and it was a struggle so I really think the squat is going up.
    I have 2 weeks left on a hypertrophy template and plan to do it again. After looking at a couple of articles I think I am going to switch to Sumo to see if that lift is just better for me. Maybe less on my back and more on quads will be good for the lift. I do not compete but I have considered it and really who doesn’t want to progress. I like pulling conventional but just over the frustration with it.
    So I have seen several videos and read articles but if anyone has some extra tips for a beginner, I would appreciate it.

  • #2
    I did conventional during LP, but switched to sumo when I went to the bridge and I've stuck with it. For me it was all about anthropometry. I'm built like the male version of Niki Sims - all legs and very short torso. With a conventional deadlift my shoulders are almost lower than my hips. That being said, after about two months of sumo I'm just about even in both lifts. I'm sticking with sumo because I feel I have the potential to get stronger that way, but logistically I like conventional better. What I mean is that when I set up conventional my shins are on the smooth part of the bar. For sumo my shins are on the knurling so I've had more issues scraping them up. On conventional my hands stay outside my legs, but on sumo they cross over my thighs at the top of the lift. This is something I've struggled with as my thighs catch my fingers and try to open up my hands.

    Greg Nuckols did an article on sumo vs. conventional and points out there isn't really a strength difference between the two:
    https://www.strongerbyscience.com/sh...ional-or-sumo/

    My thought would be that it wouldn't hurt you to try it and you may be better at it, but if your deadlift is stuck it's probably more of a programming issue.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by lonestar_shawn View Post
      I did conventional during LP, but switched to sumo when I went to the bridge and I've stuck with it. For me it was all about anthropometry. I'm built like the male version of Niki Sims - all legs and very short torso. With a conventional deadlift my shoulders are almost lower than my hips. That being said, after about two months of sumo I'm just about even in both lifts. I'm sticking with sumo because I feel I have the potential to get stronger that way, but logistically I like conventional better. What I mean is that when I set up conventional my shins are on the smooth part of the bar. For sumo my shins are on the knurling so I've had more issues scraping them up. On conventional my hands stay outside my legs, but on sumo they cross over my thighs at the top of the lift. This is something I've struggled with as my thighs catch my fingers and try to open up my hands.

      Greg Nuckols did an article on sumo vs. conventional and points out there isn't really a strength difference between the two:
      https://www.strongerbyscience.com/sh...ional-or-sumo/

      My thought would be that it wouldn't hurt you to try it and you may be better at it, but if your deadlift is stuck it's probably more of a programming issue.
      Yes!!!! That is actually one of the articles I've read. Yes it may be stuck for other reasons but I've changed programming and nothing really seem to work. What I hoping is since the sumo lift is more quad and less back that ultimately I'll be stronger in it.

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      • #4
        One of the problems I know I have is at heavy weights I lift my hips first which leans me forward a bit. I've yet to be able to correct this and even videoed a 350lbs lift today and yes was still doing it.

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        • #5
          Worth giving sumo a try. I deadlift conventional, but whenever I try sumo for a lark I always find that it seems to be about as good as my conventional. Anecdotally, a lot of sumo pullers experience reasonable carryover, so it isn't like your work has been wasted. I have to deadlift on bumpers on a wonky platform so the bar moves around and I find resetting sumo on rep work a bit more annoying than conventional, which is the only reason I haven't more seriously tried switching.

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          • #6
            I agree this is probably more of a programming issue (the general BBM templates may not be appropriate for you if you're not responding well). A good coach could probably help a lot if you have the finances. But if you need a psychological break from pulling conventional, by all means try sumo, it's not inferior at all.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Lockup View Post
              I have 2 weeks left on a hypertrophy template and plan to do it again.
              I'm not an expert in programming, but I suspect there isn't enough squatting in the hypertrophy program to get much stronger on the long run. This will affect your DL as well. I found the hypertrophy program 'refreshing' so to say and it's good for programming it in-between. But for real strength gains, I think you need to combine / alternate it with something else. Nevertheless, my DL improved on this template (180kg -> 195kg). It's only 8 weeks and it is not it's primary purpose so it is actually more than I expected. I didn't gain anything significant on the squat.

              What about your food and sleep? What if you switch to a strength specific program? Sumo might help but in essence it is as heavy as a regular DL.
              ArthurR
              Junior Member
              Last edited by ArthurR; 10-29-2018, 10:15 AM.

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              • #8
                If you decide to give sumo a try, then I recommend watching this video. The setup differences are more than just a wider stance.

                https://youtu.be/JyZK6-QzX1A

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by llaffin View Post
                  I agree this is probably more of a programming issue (the general BBM templates may not be appropriate for you if you're not responding well). A good coach could probably help a lot if you have the finances. But if you need a psychological break from pulling conventional, by all means try sumo, it's not inferior at all.
                  Actually I think the BBM templates have helped. I was doing 5/3/1 before and I switched to BBM with the bridge then did the HLM and now doing the hypertrophy. My last week of HLM I pulled 370LBS (not a lot I know) which is only 5 lbs under my last know 1rm and it went up easy enough I think I could have pulled more than 375lbs. My squat and bench seem to be doing better than deadlift though.

                  I would consider a coach but like I said I am not competing and even if I do at some point it will really just be for the experience. So I am not sure I can justify the cost of a coach. I would just like to be able to pull 400+.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ArthurR View Post
                    I'm not an expert in programming, but I suspect there isn't enough squatting in the hypertrophy program to get much stronger on the long run. This will affect your DL as well. I found the hypertrophy program 'refreshing' so to say and it's good for programming it in-between. But for real strength gains, I think you need to combine / alternate it with something else. Nevertheless, my DL improved on this template (180kg -> 195kg). It's only 8 weeks and it is not it's primary purpose so it is actually more than I expected. I didn't gain anything significant on the squat.

                    What about your food and sleep? What if you switch to a strength specific program? Sumo might help but in essence it is as heavy as a regular DL.
                    I asked about the strength part in another thread and was told you could but it would be slower. I have run the HLM template and the bridge and was doing 5/3/1 before that. I wanted to run the hypertrophy again because it was like you said a bit refreshing and being older I felt better. Plus I have a couple of trips I have to do coming up and didn't want them to fall in the middle of the HLM. I figured it was also a good time to switch with slightly lighter weights and more volume to give me exposer to it and try and work out the bugs to see how I like it before doing it in the HLM template.

                    I do think the HLM and hypertrophy template have helped my squat though. The last known 1rm for squat was 370lbs and just a couple of days ago I put 365lbs up at what I would have called an 8. Usually I like to take the last week of the templates and use the heavy singles to push to see where I am at. So I will kind of ignore the @8 part go for something in the 9 to 10 range. So next week I may load 375-380 on the bar to see where I am at.

                    Sleep is fine I usually get around 6-7 hours a night during the week. My diet is a mess right now but frankly I have eaten like crap and eaten well and it has not effected it either way. I need to clean that up though and get my act together because I do need to lose fat.

                    You are right the weight is still the same but I have been reading quite a bit on the differences and I am just wondering if putting more focus on my quads and less on my back would help.

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                    • #11
                      Someone get this man a starting strength coach and a beer. Sumo is the dark side.

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                      • #12
                        I know right!!!! I have tried to avoid it as long as possible.

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                        • #13
                          When you say your deadlift “is a mess”, what do you mean exactly?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tfranc View Post
                            When you say your deadlift “is a mess”, what do you mean exactly?
                            A mess meaning it hasn't progressed past a certain point. Like I said there have been a couple of set backs with a back tweak and a long vacation that set me back on strength but I was able to build back up to a point and then get stuck again. So for example my last known 1rm was 375lbs and that was probably about a 1 1/12 years ago. Maybe I could do a little more now but not much. My other lifts aren't crazy better either but I do feel I am stronger in them and can see progression. At this point particularly on multiple reps my squat outpaces my DL. I had/have a goal of wanting to DL 400+ and really think at this point I should have hit it or at least be closer. In the grand scheme of things for my size 5'10 about 235lbs (this is heavy though I should be more like 215lbs which is what I weighed the last time I lifted that) 400lbs is not a major weight to be lifting or at least I don't think it is.

                            So I am wondering if it is just a mechanics issue I've been unable to fix or I am better suited for sumo.

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                            • #15
                              As Greg Nuckols says, the only way to know if one works better for you than another is to give it a try. I've pulled 503 conventional and 505 sumo. I think they are about the same for me. However, I pull sumo as my competition lift now because I have a compromised back. Sumo lets me attack the lift more aggressively without fear for my back. That being said, unless you really have the anthropometry issue of hips higher than shoulders at setup, you should be able to progress with either conventional or sumo. Increasing your strength isn't a mysterious thing. You perform a volume of challenging sets in the 70-80% intensity range. When you stall, you lower the intensity a bit and increase the volume to increase your work capacity, then increasing the intensity back to 70-80% range. When you want to test your strength, you decrease the volume substantially and increase the intensity, moving towards sets in the mid-80s%, with singles at an 8 RPE or ~92%. Obviously, many of us use heavy single to gauge movements in e1RM while we are doing lower intensity work, as well.

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