Deadlifts are a great full body lift that must be trained to perfection for powerlifters. It is crucial to build upon all accessory muscles needed to go into the lift to build on your PRs. However, an argument that frequently comes up is which form is best, conventional or sumo deadlifts?
Conventional deadlifts are what most think of when a deadlift comes to mind. The lifter has a close stance, no more than shoulder width apart and their hands come onto the bar on the outside of their legs. Conventional deadlifts rely heavily on the lower back and hamstrings to pull the weight. The use of the lower back in this movement can make it more likely to become injured if form is not correct as weight is added to the bar.
Sumo deadlifts are the most controversial of the two. With a sumo deadlift the lifter will have a much wider stance and their hand placement would come onto the bar on the inside of the legs, closer together. Sumo deadlifts are a movement that emphasizes use of the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hips; making this an excellent movement to strengthen a lifters hips and improve on their hip mobility for squats. Due to the lift not relying as heavily on the lower back, the risk of lower back injury is reduced. However, good hip flexibility and mobility is required to perform a sumo deadlift correctly.
Due to sumo deadlifts having a wider stance and not as wide range of motion when it comes to the lifter pulling, it is seen by some as “cheating”. The hip mobility and strength that is required to perform a sumo deadlift takes time and technique to perfect; just like a conventional deadlift takes time and strength to train. At the end of the day both lifts have their own benefits and are both completely legal in powerlifting competitions.