Deadlifting Styles

Many lifters have a hard time dead lifting. Ok so what now…. there are 3 different types of dead lifting that a lifter can “choose” from. I purposefully emphasized choose for a reason. Dead lifting strength, pain intolerances, comfortability and frankly if you should or not lies in assessing the best we can on pelvic alignment.

The Key Determinant – Hip Structure

Whether you’re stronger in the conventional deadlift or the sumo deadlift (hip flexion with hip abduction sometimes depends, on your hip structure. And beginners most likely if they are cleared to deadlift should start with the trap bar deadlift. To keep things simple there are several variables to recognize. Pelvises come in all shapes and sizes, socket location… i.e farther forward or farther back on a pelvis, are they shallow or deep, and the angulation of the femur.

Those five distinct variables will determine both the range of motion your hips can go through, and the amount of muscular tension you can develop in different hip positions.


Image 1 shows what a “normal” angle of inclination looks like. Image 2 shows a coxa vara hip, and image 3 shows a coxa valga hips.

Number 2 will almost certainly need to deadlift conventional (especially if they have deep hip sockets), and they’ll probably squat with a pretty narrow stance as well. With too much hip abduction, the top of their femur will be encroaching upon the pelvis itself.

Number 3 probably has no issues doing split work, and they may be better off pulling sumo.


Notorious differences particularly between the conventional and sumo deadlift?

When looking at the demands there are only two major differences.

  1. Conventional deadlifts are harder on your spinal erectors off the floor.

2. Sumo deadlifts are harder on your quads.

How do you know whether you’re meant to pull conventional or sumo?

Try them out and see…if sumo is indeed a good option for you I still would cycle them in and out of your training program. Neither variation is inherently easier or harder than the other, and hip extension demands are virtually identical; however, one or the other will likely be noticeably stronger for you in the long run, based largely on your personal hip structure, which determines the range of motion your hips can go through comfortably, and the tension on the muscles around your hip at varying degrees of flexion, abduction, and external rotation. The big key here is not to squat the sumo that so many try to do. You need to hip hinge the sumo just as you do the conventional. The last thing with the sumo…foot stance can largely depend on leg length so longer legged individuals will stance themselves a bit wider than shorter legged individuals. As you grab the bar hip hinge abduct the femur and externally rotate the legs.


Hope this helps!