This classic variation is much loved by deadlifting die-hards. As one of the three lifts in the sport of Powerlifting it is one third of an entire body of work in sporting history. It features in our Hinge-Deadlift Challenge Theme as the most complex variation of the 3 main deadlifting variations (Hex Bar, Sumo and Conventional Deadlift).
Why is it a competency progression from a Sumo Deadlift?
The narrow stance leaves the hips high and requires a large amount of hip flexion to grip the bar. As such the torso is near perpendicular to the floor at the initiation of the lift providing larger lumbar erector activation vs the more upright Hex Bar and Sumo variations. Excellent hip flexion (think laying thigh to chest test) is required to access and maintain braced lumbar neutral throughout the lift and avoid compensatory ‘reaching’ from the shoulder girdle to reach the bar. Both are common faults which will compromise our primary value of postural relevance and transfer of training to the elegant sports skills we seek to impact.
While Powerlifting demands competency in this exercise, training for sports performance is not so constrained. In the absence of excellent hip mobility, consider regressing to Hex Bar (Level 7) or Sumo Deadlifts (Level 8) to achieve your goals. If lower back strength is a goal, it’s a great option when competency is good but consider alternative exercise to supplement more upright deadlift variations if competency is poor (e.g., Romanian Deadlift, Glute-Ham Raise).
Conventional, Hex Bar and Sumo Deadlifts form the Max Effort Lifts in the Hinge Category. With each variation, athletes have the ability to load maximally and evoke maximal neuromuscular recruitment which is critical for developing the highest threshold, Type II fast twitch muscle fibres.