Sumo Deadlift High Pull – A Power Packed Punch on Conventional Exercises?


CrossFit Level 1 certification has Sumo Deadlift High Pull (SDHP) as the most basic foundational movement. Other forms of deadlift, squats and presses combine together to kick-off the adrenaline rush and complete the movements of CrossFit Level 1.

Overwhelming controversies has shrouded this movement since its inception. Most coaches do not feel safe going for a robust session of Sumo Deadlift High Pull. Coaches teach the movement, however, do not advise a rigorous practice. Thus, it becomes imperative to do a cross-sectional study of the pros and cons of this movement.


How do you pull off a Sumo Deadlift High Pull?

The power boosting technique of the movement seems a little complex. The whole process involves, keeping your elbows high, and pointed outside the body. You keep your back upright flat and tight throughout the lifting process. You lift a bar or a dumbbell from your shin to right beneath your chin. Hold the middle of the bar tightly by a firm grip with both hands, while pulling-off a full hip extension. For a more elaborate knowledge of the technique, follow the step-by-step procedure below (personal trainer supervision, is advised):

  • Stand with your legs wide open with toes slightly pointing outside.
  • Place the thumbs of your hands outside the center of the bar, to hold.
  • Your hips should be above the knees, while keeping your back tight and upright and shoulders at level or above the bar.
  • Lift the bar from the ground using your muscle power with push from your heels.
  • Extend the hips as much possible.
  • Begin the shrug without decreasing the speed at which you lift the bar.
  • Keep your arms straight with elbows high and pointing outside the body.
  • You complete the movement when you bring the hands to chin level and elbows to the ear level.
  • While putting the bar down, extend the arms, relax the shrugs, and push back the hip to the starting position.

Given the complex movement of the entire torso, one requires tips to carry out the technique safely. Safety is the primary concern of all practitioners and their coaches. Have patience on bending of arms until the bar reaches your hip, and maintain a vertical torso. Rushing through the act might cause some severe nerve or muscle damage.


Benefits of Sumo Deadlift High Pull

The intricate movement of Sumo Deadlift High Pull builds up enormous power in the posterior part. The regular practice of this movement involves the strengthening of the hamstrings, gluteus muscles, and lower back and upper traps. The movement, however basic, to pass CrossFit Level 1 certification, generates tremendous power. It enhances the muscle power and athleticism to a great extent. You should try to skillfully master the art of practicing Sumo Deadlift High Pull, without damaging any part of your body. A strong and flexible muscle ensures ease of movement and reduces the risk of injuries. It gives greater independence to our being, and more freedom to carry out your daily activities. An improved upright posture gives the body an overall fitter and leaner look.


Difference between Sumo Deadlift and Conventional Deadlift

This debate, even today, remains a favorite topic of discussion among sports enthusiasts. Deadlift focuses on the raw, brute power of your body, to build your strength and muscle. However, the Sumo Deadlift High Pull and the Conventional Deadlift have their differences. While the Sumo Deadlift involves hips, gluteus muscles, and legs to initiate the pull, the Conventional Deadlift has a more equal balance between lower back and hamstrings. An electromyography study reported that 16 different muscle sites are fired during the Deadlift movement.

The range of motion, however, is shorter in Sumo Deadlift as compared to the Conventional Deadlift. This compels some skeptics to consider Sumo Deadlift much easier than traditional Deadlift, as the former allows your hips to stay closer to the bar.


Conventional-DeadliftThe major variation between the two workouts is the difference of pressure they put on the spine extensors. The Conventional Deadlift calls for a 5 -10% greater lean of the torso than Sumo Deadlift. The lean of the torso is directly proportional to the spinal flexibility of the arm. The leaner the torso, more difficult it is to remain in a neutral position for long. This becomes a bone of contention between the debaters, who exemplify the above example to drive home their point that Sumo Deadlift is easier.

Another requirement of the Conventional Deadlift is to keep the shins, vertical. The pressure on the knee extensor is not a limiting factor. On the other hand, Sumo Deadlift has more knee flexion in comparison.

The Conventional Deadlift requires approximately 40% more mechanical work, than Sumo Deadlift. The greater distance the bar travels, leads to the generation of more mechanical energy. Hip anatomy and mobility play a crucial role in defining the difference between Conventional and Sumo Deadlift.


Why Sumo Deadlift High Pull is called out more often?

In simple terms, this movement is about using the brute force generated from hips, to push a loaded bar, up to your chin, while holding the bar with your arms. Doing the stunt incorrectly, may lead to grave injuries and damage. More often, the athletes and sports enthusiasts practice the movement without any expert supervision. Lack of proper training, absence of supervision, and fatigue often leads to a serious nerve, ligament, or tissue and muscle damage. In the whole process, Sumo Deadlift High Pull gets a bad name.

Athletes already struggling with injuries prefer practicing Conventional Deadlift instead of Sumo Deadlift. The former is a pull while the latter focuses on complex movement oriented around strength.

Some skeptics often bat for other forms of exercises like push-ups, squatting, shoulder press and pulling, to groom prospective athletes. While they may go to the extent of practicing Conventional Deadlift, however, they are reluctant to advise Sumo Deadlift.

Sumo Deadlift High Pull can be an enormous power booster when practiced by a healthy person, under strict supervision. On the contrary, the same movement can lead to disaster, if practiced incorrectly. The practitioner, as well as the supervisor, need to be extra careful and take special precautions, if they wish to pull off this stunt, safely and successfully.

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