Super Meet: Sumo vs. Conventional Deadlift

This week I’m writing about the different techniques allowed at Utah’s Super Meet next month; more specifically, the varying techniques for the five major lifts: back squat, deadlift, bench press, clean & jerk, and snatch.

With the deadlift, you really have two options in order to lift a maximal load: sumo (feet outside shoulder-width, hands inside) and conventional (feet shoulder-width, hands outside). There are advantages and disadvantages to the technique you decide to use, but those are totally dependent on the athlete, their body type, and their strengths and weaknesses.

As an example, look at the percentage of lifters using each stance at the 2016 International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Championships.

Women’s Division
Men’s Division

This data shows a correlation between lighter individuals favoring the sumo deadlift and heavier athletes favoring the conventional deadlift. This doesn’t mean, however, that all light athletes should do a sumo technique and all heavy athletes do a conventional technique.

Other examples like torso and arm length will give you an advantage of which technique will allow you to lift the maximal load. For a detailed explanation of these variables, read this article by my friends over at

The scope of this video, however, is to introduce you to the different styles and give you an idea of the variables that might give you an advantage next month.


The conventional deadlift will tax more of your hamstrings and low back. While experienced lifters engage their quads in the lift, particularly to reach lock-out, they are minimized. 

The sumo deadlift is more like a squat where your quads are doing a large portion of the work along with hamstrings and glutes. The sumo deadlift is much “easier” on the low-back.

Regardless of your size and preference, I believe you should train both. Variables not mentioned in this data will predict which stance will allow you to lift heavier loads; but that shouldn’t cause you to ignore the other technique while in training.


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