The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Itís no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
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    Sumo Deadlift Foot Position Question

    I just recently switched to sumo style deadlifting and have found I am able to pull much more weight far more easily. I've done a lot of reading up on the style and technique involved and everything I've read has said that you should keep your feet pointed out as far as possible, even parallel to the bar if you're able to comfortably pull from that position.

    I follow the Westside template and pretty much read/watch everything I can from Louie and try to follow everything he says as closely as possible. I was just reading one of Louie's articles ( http://westside-barbell.com/westside...0Training2.pdf ) on deadlifting and when talking about pulling sumo he says, "The strongest style is feet straight forward. How straight your feet will be is dependent on your flexibility, which also determines the width of your stance."

    What am I missing here? I can't imagine being able to achieve a very wide stance or being able to successfully keep your knees out with heavy weight, while pointing your feet straight forward. I saw AJ Roberts post here that Louie says the same about keeping the feet forward with wide stance squats, which I don't see myself being able to do either. The emphasis on keeping the feet pointed forward for pulling sumo and squatting seems to seriously contrast with the typically wide stances for both squatting and pulling that I see from almost all Westside lifters.

    Anyone have any advice on the subject? A related question is that I've read the best body type for sumo is long torso and short arms/legs (typically a poor body type for pulling) but these leverages are better for sumo than conventional, is this accurate? That's the body type I have and everything I've read about sumo has said this is the body type that gets the most out of the style. My own limited experience with the style has confirmed this thus far.

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  3. #2
    THE 800 QUEST NickAus's Avatar
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    I keep my feet as straight as comfortable for squats like Louie says and find it stronger.

    For sumos which I am new at also I line my feet up so my feet point at the same angle as my knees, too straight and it hurts my knees.
    Unless you go really wide I think you will get more out of your hams/glutes with feet at approx 45 degrees give or take but as I said I'm new at sumos...
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  4. #3
    GFH Lones Green's Avatar
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    Yeah, having your feet parallel to the bar isn't the best way. More forward will recruit more muscles to work at the lockout

    Lou told me that when I was at WS
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  5. #4
    JERSEY IRON Brian C's Avatar
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    i pull sumo pretty wide(feet just outside rings) and I keep my feet about 45 degrees. You want your hips as close to the bar as possibe, so by keeping your feet straight, itll be hard to do this. I definately dont think parallel to the bar is good, but around 45 with your knees aligned with your feet, you can push your knees out and get the hips fairly close. This works for me the best. But with anything, trial and error is where you'll find whats best for you. Heres a quick vid of my sumo pull. You can see my feet position
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    Last edited by Brian C; 10-05-2010 at 07:40 AM.
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  6. #5
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    That does make a lot of sense about recruiting more muscle with the feet pointed forward. I had always read the most important thing was keeping the hips as close as possible to the bar, thus the feet pointed out to the sides. I guess I'll work on keeping my feet pointed forward for both sumo deadlifting and wide stance squatting. Maybe working on hip flexibility will allow me to keep my feet pointed forward while using a wide stance for both.

  7. #6
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    I've found that pointing my toes out 45 degrees allows me to open my hips and use them more. You're also able to keep the bar closer to your legs in a straight line since the knees are open and more out of the way. As far as foot position, experiment and find a spot that's comfortable, keeps you on balance, and feels like you're getting good drive out of your legs.

    Also, understanding what Lou has told some of you guys, check the vids of Vogelpohl, Hoff, and Edwards, probably the best sumo pullers at WSB in recent years. All have their toes pointed out.
    Last edited by Dave Schwab; 10-05-2010 at 08:01 PM.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Schwab View Post
    check the vids of Vogelpohl, Hoff, and Edwards, probably the best sumo pullers at WSB in recent years. All have their toes pointed out.
    This is what threw me when I saw that Louie strongly advocated pointing the toes forward, it seems that I never see it from any of his sumo deadlifters or wide stance squatters.

  9. #8
    THE 800 QUEST NickAus's Avatar
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    Tried lots of sets of sumos tonight and 45 degrees is the way to go IMO.
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  10. #9
    GFH Lones Green's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Schwab View Post
    I've found that pointing my toes out 45 degrees allows me to open my hips and use them more. You're also able to keep the bar closer to your legs in a straight line since the knees are open and more out of the way. As far as foot position, experiment and find a spot that's comfortable, keeps you on balance, and feels like you're getting good drive out of your legs.

    Also, understanding what Lou has told some of you guys, check the vids of Vogelpohl, Hoff, and Edwards, probably the best sumo pullers at WSB in recent years. All have their toes pointed out.
    Well what I mean was, when he was working on my form, he had me point my toes straighter than they were. He didn't have me point them straight forward, but a little more forward than 45 degrees. I really did feel my lockout was better with this change. I went to this foot position from feet almost parallel.
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