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Conventional Vs. Sumo Deadlift

Our Favorite Exercise

What's up Fit Fam!? Today's blog is all about our favorite exercise, the sit up! Juuuust kidding! Of course I'm talking about the deadlift. I want to start by saying that the deadlift is one of the most primal and functional exercises. There's probably nothing more functional than picking something up from the ground and putting it back down. Add the heavy element of the deadlift and you have an exercise fit for your favorite Flintstone character (Wilmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!)

I know, I know, the deadlift can be confusing.  What variation should I do? The most common question our doctors get in the clinic is, “Should I do the sumo deadlift or the conventional deadlift?” So let's go down this rabbit hole of deadlift mechanics and muscle activation!

Sumo Deadlift VS The Conventional Deadlift

What joint is doing most of the movement?

  • Sumo deadlift: knee joint

  • Conventional deadlift: hip joint

Where do you feel the burn (mostly)?

  • Sumo deadlift: front muscles - quads

  • Conventional deadlift: back muscles - low back, hamstrings, and gluteus max

What limits this motion?

  • Sumo deadlift: Tight inner thighs (no splits for you!)

  • Conventional deadlift: Tight low back, hamstrings or glutes (I cant touch my toes!)

Who is this best for?

  • Sumo deadlift: People with low back pain, and those who need to emphasize quad strength

  • Conventional deadlift: People who need to emphasize back muscle strength (booty gainz!), those with sensitive knees

Check out these pictures and videos for a breakdown of the movement patterns!

Sumo Deadlift:


Conventional Deadlift:


Now let's not get carried away about which deadlift is better or worse. The best deadlift is the one you are consistent with! Need help lifting or staying consistent with your current workout? Drop a comment and one of our doctors would love to take the pain away from your gainz!

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