Sumo Deadlift – Beginner vs Expert
There is the sumo deadlift performed by two different women. My online student Qudsiah Khan (USA) and two time world champion from Russia, Valeriya Scheglova. Valeriya has the best sumo deadlift techinque I have ever seen. So let’s compare the best template and a beginner version. I love my student Qudsiah Khan and so I created this article just for her. She liked it very much. Now it is your turn dear reader.
Her feet are positioned “sumo” style, 122 cm apart (distance between the centers of the heels) with the toes pointed outwards at 45-degree angles. The knees are turned outwards as well and also aligned with the toes. The pelvis is lifted significantly higher than the knees. The vertical projection of the bar places it directly above the metatarsal joints. She is holding the bar with a mixed grip about shoulder width apart and the bar is in contact with her shins. Her shoulders are low and aligned with the vertical plane of the barbell. Her back is straight and tight with her chin lifted slightly. The common center of gravity of the body is projected over the middle of each foot.
Her feet are positioned in an intermediate type “sumo” stance. Her toes are pointed out at roughly 40-degree angles. The knees are turned out and aligned with her toes. Her pelvis is lifted too high. She is holding the bar with a mixed grip about slightly less than shoulder width apart and the bar is in contact with her shins. Her shoulders are lifted slightly, meaning they aren’t pulled and tight, and also they are forward of the vertical barbell plane. Her back is slightly rounded. The common center of gravity is projected over the middle of each foot.
Pic 2. Moment of lift-off
The moment of lift-off is a transition moment between the starting position and the pull itself. During this moment the “athlete-barbell” system becomes one in regards to the supporting base. Independent contacts with the floor of the barbell and athlete are terminated and all further movement goes through athlete’s feet only.
During lift-off the barbell moved 0.5 cm forward (pic 2.). Her back is tilted forward at a 40-degree angle. Because of the decreased knee angle during lift-off the barbell moved closer to her body.
During lift-off her legs started to straighten because of her hip height. The center of gravity moved closer to the front of her feet. Her shoulders also moved forward and passed the barbell plane. The entire load transferred onto back muscles.
Pic 3. Barbell is 3-5 cm lower than knees
The lift started with an active engagement of hip and back muscles. Her back angle is still kept at 40-degrees.
Her back angle has increased slightly and her legs are almost straight.
Pic 4. Knee level
Active leg engagement continues. During this phase she starts recruiting her back muscles. The barbell has moved from the vertical plane roughly 1 cm.
Her legs are straight with completely engaged back muscles causing her back angle to decrease slightly.
Pic 5. Maximal height of the barbell
Her legs and spine are straightened with the barbell very close to her legs throughout its entire path.
The most important feature of Valeria’s technique is that she has perfect timing with her back muscle recruitment. It allows her not only to maintain the bar’s speed but also to increase it.
The barbell reached its maximal height due to straightening of the back. The most important feature of Qudsiah’s technique is the minimal leg engagement and maximal back engagement.
Pic 6. The lockout
The lockout is achieved by leaning back a little with active recruitment of the trapezoids and rhomboids. Her chin is tightly tucked. Because she is leaning back slightly her hips and the barbell move forward around 1.5 cm as well.
Contrary to Valeriya, Qudsiah stays very upright and doesn’t lean back giving her a vertical back in the end.
Qudsiah compromises her lift with mistakes: her hips are too high at the start for one. She straightens her legs too fast as well and the barbell stays at the same height during the straightening. Her back and leg muscles also work separately.
During the starting position it is recommended to pull the hips lower and, while lifting the barbell off the floor, to engage the back muscles right away together with the legs. The common center of gravity has to stay projected over the middle of the feet. During the lockout it is also recommended to lean back slightly.
Translation: Alex Hoplyakov www.alexhoplyakov.com