In the 1970s the sumo deadlift was a rarity. A lifter from Indiana called Carlos Luper was very good making 650 pounds with no gear. The great Japanese lifter Inaba used a close stance sumo where he started his pull with arms between his legs, but finished with his arms outside of his legs.
Our Mike Rogerio of Westside was a 300-pound super heavy weight and used the same close stance with hands outside the knees. All sports training starts with the basic lifts of Olympic and powerlifting.
Why use it for sports?
It is much safer on the low back due to emphasizing the legs, hips, and glutes with a straight back. The conventional style uses a lot of lower back, making a low back injury very possible.
How to execute a sumo deadlift
I was taught by one of the greatest sumo technicians of all time, Mike Bridges.
First, set your feet wide as possible—the wider the more hip and hamstring are doing the majority of the lift.
Next, place your hands evenly on the bar. Most will grab the bar next to the knurling. There are four options to grab the bar: 1) Both hands over the knuckles facing forward, 2) Hook grip, but this can be painful on the thumbs, 3) Both hands over the bar with no hook, and 4) Use a reverse grip.
Next, pull your hip into the starting position. This means not too low, but most will be in a half squat position. This is done by pushing your feet and knees out to the side. To start bar off the floor, push feet outward while pulling back, not up on the bar. This will start the hips coming forward while the shoulders are moving backward as you lock out the bar.
This style of deadlifting builds flexibility in the hips and groins, a plus for all sports. A bonus is great lateral speed by always pushing your feet apart. This is a great builder for the hamstrings, hips and glutes. Also, there are far more muscle activations than even squatting due to gripping the bar. When training for max strength, do one to five reps.
For explosive power, do 30 to 40 percent. For speed strength, use 75 to 85 percent mostly using reps one to three, but five also can be used. For maximal strength do one rep per set. For building muscle mass, one can do as many as 20 reps per set with light weight. Just like jumping squats, you can jump at the completion of your deadlift with light weights.
I believe everyone should use briefs or tight shorts to protect the groin and hips.
Your hips should not rise up first when pulling. This happens when you don’t push your knees out to the sides. This is caused by not forcing your feet out to the sides as well.
Is there a training method to teach you to deadlift properly? Yes, but that’s another article.