4 Exercises Better Than the Deadlift
Think traditional barbell deadlifts are tops for adding strength and muscle? Here are four variations that can make big improvements to your physique and help you pack on pounds
2. Sumo Deadlift
Chances are good that you’ve seen a sumo wrestler in action on television; the wide stance, the erect torso, the horrible uniform. Well, that stance is where we get the sumo-style deadlift. With the sumo dead, you take a very wide stance with your toes pointed out to help alleviate knee discomfort. Much like the conventional deadlift, your arms remain as straight as possible throughout the move. The last thing you want to try and do is lift the barbell using your arms. If you start trying to bend at the elbows and hoist the barbell upward, you’ll lose the lift and the bar won’t budge. The key during the sumo is to let your arms act as hooks, attaching you to the bar. From there you push through the floor with your feet and legs to drive the bar upward, dragging it up your body. The closer the bar stays to your legs, the better your mechanical advantage, allowing you to perform more reps with more weight.
As far as the target musculature, the sumo dead still hits the entire body, from the quads, hamstrings, glutes, back, shoulders, arms, core and even the chest to a certain degree. However, the sumo dead involves slightly more upper traps as well as quads and inner hamstrings when compared to the narrower stance of a traditional pull. As far as the upper traps, that emphasis is likely due to the much more erect torso you have during this style. Because the weight is directly below, the line of pull hits the upper traps straight on.
And finally, no matter what you’ve been taught or told, always take a staggered grip on the bar (one hand supinated, the other pronated). Research shows that a staggered grip allows you to maintain control of the bar for more reps as compared to having both hands pronated (overhand). The alternating grip counterbalances the bar as it rolls out of the fingers in both hands.
START: Stand over a loaded barbell resting on the floor so your shins touch the bar. Your feet should be much wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed outward. Squat down to grab the bar using a staggered grip (one hand overhand, the other underhand) with your hands spaced inside shoulder width. Your torso should be bent at about 45 degrees over the bar with your arms tensed and pulling on the bar; your thighs will be slightly higher than parallel with the floor.
EXECUTION: With your arms straight, keeping your abs pulled in tight and tensing your entire body, drive through your heels to straighten your knees and bring your hips forward until you’re in a standing position. Once standing, bring your shoulders back slightly and pause. Lower the barbell along the same path (keeping it close to your body all the way down) to the floor. Touch the plates to the floor, allowing the bar to settle, then begin the next rep.