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Thread: Sumo vs. Conventional

  1. #1
    Diesel Hercule's Avatar
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    Apr 2002

    Sumo vs. Conventional

    Hey guys,
    I was looking at the Dec. issue of USAPL, and I was wondering about something. Many people use Sumo form to get a higher deadlift, and they say sumo is also safer than conventional. I noticed that 926lbs. DL'er Andy Bolton, and 931lbs. DL'er Gary Frank both use conventional form. Gary Frank is a pretty tall dude, and the way I understood it was that taller people should use Sumo form. So my question is, what sort of characteristics determine which form is better for you. I am 5'10" and I have short arms and my legs are about 30" long. I am wondering if I should go back to Conventional form. Opinions?
    Last edited by Hercule; 01-09-2003 at 03:09 PM.

  2. #2
    Think Tank TMan's Avatar
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    Aug 2002
    Austin, TX
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  3. #3
    Senior Member benchmonster's Avatar
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    Aug 2002
    Actually, Hercule,

    Short people should use Sumo, and tall people should lift conventional. That is the standard wisdom. Ed Coan deadlifted 901 at 220 (lightest man to ever do it) and he was pulling sumo. He was, and is, five feet six inches tall.

    However, Lamar Gant was a conventional puller and deadlifted over 600 lbs weighing only 132 lbs bodyweight. I am not too sure how tall he was, but I am thinking only five foot two or so.

    Ricky Dale Crain pulled 700+ at 165 lbs bodyweight and he pulled sumo. I personally pull about 40 or so lbs more sumo than conventional and I am short too. Ricky is about 5 foot 5 at most, maybe a bit shorter. I am five foot eight on a very generous tape measure.

    Gary Heisey had the best all time deadlift for a very long time. He pulled conventional and was six feet six, or so. Garry Frank pulls conventional and is six feet five inches tall. I am not sure how tall Andy Bolton is, but I would guess at least six feet 3 or 4.

    If you are built to deadlift, usually you will be better off pulling conventional. If you are built to bench (compact, short arms, big torso, etc. . . ) you usually will be better off sumo. There are of course exceptions to both rules, however.


  4. #4
    Banned Berserker's Avatar
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    Oct 2002
    Eating more pork.
    I think I am screwed, I am short but I don't think I have short arms.
    I am gonna give sumo a try on monday.

  5. #5
    Magically delicious Shane's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    Most of the time when I deadlift I use conventional but if I was going to max for a competition I'd train using sumo for a while and then use sumo in the competition. Just try both and see which you feel most comfortable using for your goals. I don't think conventional is more risky if you make sure to use good form on every rep.
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  6. #6
    Trying to figure this out JohnCollins's Avatar
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    Apr 2002
    I've just started doing them, and I can only do sumo. I'm 6' tall and my lower back protests on regular. I can't seem to get erect enough in regular to get comfortable with it. Sumo just feels better for me.

    ---------- Later edit -------From above article link-------

    There's why!

    The liftoff - The sumo has a trunk angle that is significantly closer to
    vertical that conventional lifters. Sumo lifters were also found to have
    much larger hip and knee angles at the start of the lift. This style shifts
    the bulk of the load on the hips and knees. While the conventional lifter
    with a more stooped-over trunk position at liftoff utilizes more low back
    muscles to get the weight moving off the floor.
    Last edited by JohnCollins; 01-09-2003 at 06:23 PM.
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  7. #7
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Jan 2001
    Charlottesville, VA
    I am just under 6' tall. I can lift substantially more weight using sumo style. The style that best fits you is less a function of height than it is your unique anatomy, and how all of the involved bones and joints "fit" together (if you will). It is all about leverage. From what I have seen, the majority of "big" deadlifters use a conventional stance.

  8. #8
    Cardio bunny Alex.V's Avatar
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    Feb 2001
    Aye. Same. Just under 6', MUCH stronger in sumo.

    A good deal has to do with leg length as a proportion of height, and hip width.

    (And of course, muscular leverage)
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  9. #9
    Gaglione Strength Chris Rodgers's Avatar
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    Jan 2001
    I am 5'7".

    I pull equally both ways. What does this tell us? Absolutely nothing. Just train both styles. I feel using both stances will assure you are training the squat and deadlift movers efficiently. Same thing with goodmornings. I like to use both wide and narrow stances.
    Best Meet Lifts(Raw w/wraps):
    @165- 435 SQ 270 BE 560 DL.....1255 total
    @181- 535 SQ 300 BE 570 DL.....1400 total
    Best Meet Lifts(Multi-ply):
    @148- 575 SQ 315 BE 515 DL.....1400 total
    @165- 680 SQ 380 BE 540 DL.....1555 total
    @181- 700 SQ 375 BE 535 DL.....1605 total
    Best Gym Lifts(Raw w/wraps)
    545 SQ 305 BE 585 DL

  10. #10
    Wannabebig Member
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    Nov 2002
    use Conventional with a reversed grip and you will be getting to where you want to be in no time, sumo has never done it for me. I use chalk also apposed to gloves or straps give it a shot and tell us what you think
    arms are 21 and STILL growing

  11. #11
    Bodybuilding Mythbuster
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Yeongsan. South Korea
    I am six two (with 6'8" armspan) and pull sumo. Conventional just doesn't feel right for me. I couldn't get past 225 or so. Then I switched to sumo and my poundages went up again. It all depends on what is right for you.
    Last edited by Songsangnim; 01-12-2003 at 02:44 AM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2002
    I'm 5'9. My Conventional is higher than my sumo by about 25lbs. or so. I don't really know if this means anything. Besides, I've only been training with a sumo stance for two week now. I don't think I should expect it to be higher.
    Squat - 505
    Bench - 325
    Deadlift - 550
    Total - 1380@175


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