How I Fell in Love with SUMO Deadlifts

I got my first gym membership at the age of 23 (January 2016) but I’ve been heavily into sport and exercise since my early teenage years (2006). My girlfriend, a gym maniac at the time, introduced me to conventional deadlifting. I focused on learning the correct form in the first few months, lifting no more than 40kg at 80kg bodyweight. Later, I gradually began increasing the weight on the bar every few weeks, building up to 130kg in July 2016.

I was never satified with my form though. I appeared to lift with my back rather than hamstrings, and I felt pressure in my lower back after every set although form remained good. I watched tens of tutorials on how to deadlift, filmed myself for analysis puposes and kept tweaking my form. Sadly, the movement of picking up weight off the floor remained as awkward as when I was first introduced to deadlifting. So did the discomfort in my back. I thought my lower back just wasn’t strong enough and kept on lifting small amounts of weights (under 100kg). I knew it was a matter of time when the discomfort would become an injury but carried on lifting hoping my lower back would eventually get strong enough. One day I felt a sharp pain in my lower back while deadlifting. I wasn’t surprised to be honest. Luckily, it wasn’t a serious injury so I recovered within two months.

After the incident, I wanted a change. I had enough of deadlifts. I accepted the fact my body wasn’t suited for deadlifting and replaced the exercise with weighted pull-ups. During my recovery period, I came across a tutorial on how to sumo deadlift. The video explained the differences between conventional and sumo, noting that sumo deadlifts put less stress on the lower back and require more leg drive to move weight up. The video also addressed different body types and how tall people like me are better off doing sumos.

The information in these videos got my attention and I was suddenly excited to try deadlifting again. After a few practice sessions with less than 50kg, I started to like it. There was no pressure in my lower back and I had to use my legs a lot. I quickly progressed to a reasonable weight and began to love sumo deadlifting. I got so into it that I began doing legs two to three times a week, often focusing on sumo deadlifts for the entire session. Pulling my first 140kg was a huge success for me. I was inspired to unlock all the strength hidden in me. Nowadays, watching people lift and even talking about sumos gets me excited. It feels great to succeed at executing a movement I weren’t previously able to. By the way, I hit a personal record of 1x160kg in September 2016!

Upon reviewing the footage, I noticed my form wasn’t perfect but I knew where improvements were needed and couldn’t wait to get back in the gym to correct my form.

As my love for sumo deadlifting grew deeper, I realized what worked for me and created my own sumo deadlifting program to help me get stronger in a quick and safe way. My goal for 2017 is 200kg.

Here are some of my recent personal records.

If you need any help with perfecting your form, please get in touch! I’m happy to look at videos of yourself lifting and provide some tips on how to improve your technique.

 

 

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