Deadlift Starting Hip Position
Recently I’ve had Rob and Payton switch to sumo for the time being to test their strength on their opposite stance and see if we can handle higher training volumes. I wanted to highlight both of these lifters, because they both display the same characteristic on their conventional deadlifts, which at times led to excessive lower back or SI joint fatigue. Whereas with sumo, that issue is not present with them. If you scroll over to the conventional deadlift videos (CLICK HERE), you can see both Rob and Payton have a slight pelvic tuck as they pull in. If we are looking directionally, on conventional deadlift they tend to pull/tuck their hips into the bar, versus on sumo I would describe their movement more as pulling their feet and hips into the floor. While we want our hips as close to the bar as possible, we also want them far enough away too. That probably doesn’t make much sense at first, but we have to understand that every lifter has a certain genetic structure. In particular for a neutral back and pelvis to occur, the hips must me a certain distance from the bar. If our shoulder/shoulder blades are over the bar like they should be, and our torso is a certain length, the hips must be a certain effective length away from the bar to create a neutral back and pelvic position. If you scroll to the 5th and 6th picture, you can get more of an idea of what I mean. In the 5th picture, we have Payton with near perfect neutral position. If he was to bring his hips any closer to the bar, his lower back would have to flex and his pelvis would have to posteriorly rotate under. In the 6th picture, we can see this exact difference with Lorenzo. Typically what will happen when we tuck our hips too close to the bar is our strength off the floor will actually be stronger, but come lockout a lifter will get stuck about mid thigh. In that scenario, at lockout the lifter has already fully contracted their glutes and hamstrings and are just relying on lower back extension to finish their lockout, which is not optimal. And in Rob and Payton’s case, it was placing a higher amount of stress on their lower backs and SI joint.
So for Rob and Payton you may ask why we didn’t just fix that on their conventional deadlift? Well that is easier said than done, and they both tended to struggle with this concept on conventional deadlift. But as soon as they switched to sumo, this concept just naturally occurred without me having to cue a thing. This happened naturally because with sumo that effective distance will be less due to a more upright torso position. So for both Rob and Payton, they did not feel the need to tuck their pelvis under in the same way, as they already felt their hips being much closer to their center of gravity just from the positional change. Would I make this change for every lifter who struggles with this? Definitely not, and these two examples of stance change are much more the minority of what I would typically do. But in their cases it has currently provided the solution we needed, and now it is time to continue to progress their sumo deadlifts to see if this is a long term solution with matching or exceeding their conventional strength while being able to handle higher training volumes.