Sumo and Conventional Deadlift Technique: The 3 Most Important Rules

Look at the best deadlifter’s in the world and you’ll find a variety of different setups and techniques.

There is no one BEST deadlift technique.

There are even two completely different ways to deadlift: sumo and conventional.

You can breakdown those two styles even more: flat/round back, hip height, wide/moderate/narrow stance, head/hand/foot position, grip etc.

Even with all the varying styles, there are three rules almost any great deadlifter follows.

Skim your body with the bar

Bar path is extremely important.

Look at any great deadlifter and you’ll notice that the bar is skimming their body the entire time (or they’re trying to).

If the bar leaves your body, it will carry you with it. The more the bar travels away from your body, the more likely your form is to break down causing you to miss the lift.

Skim your body with the bar through the entire lift.


Create tension through the muscles in your body.

In order to keep the bar from leaving your body, certain parts of your body have to be stable and immovable.

I think of my upper body as being braced and maintaining position, while my lower body moves the weight, driving it off the floor and accelerating to lockout.

Create tension through your body by starting with a tight brace.

Start with a neutral spine and take in a BIG breath of air to fill your torso.

Breathe into your lower back and fill the area that is covered by a lifting belt, then flex your abs as hard as possible.

Maintain this tight brace throughout the lift.

Be Explosive

You don’t want to just muscle up a heavy deadlift.

To achieve maximum output, move the bar as fast as you can.

It may not always move quickly, but always try to move it fast. Push the floor away from you as explosively as possible.

Give it everything.

Practice moving all your sets, warm-ups to work sets explosively.

Stay tight and be as aggressive as possible.


These are some of the best deadlifters of all-time. You’ll notice that they all have their own unique setup and technique.

With all the differences they have, the three qualities above are something they all have in common.

27 Bad Ass Deadlifts:

Benedikt Magnusson 1015 – conventional

Andrey Belyaev 870 @ 198 – sumo

Andy Bolton 1008 – conventional

Konstantin Pozdeev 893 @ 228- sumo

Brandon Cass 920 @ 220 – conventional

Ed Coan 901 @ 220 – sumo

Zydrunas Savickas 946 – conventional

Dan Green 850 – sumo

Brian Shaw 985 – conventional

Chris Duffin 900 @ 220 – sumo

Konstantin Konstantinovs 939 – conventional

Vince Urbank 881 – sumo

George Leeman 909 – conventional

Sergey Daragan 895 @ 263 – sumo

Lamar Gant 634 @ 123 – conventional

Andrey Malanichev 891- sumo

Jesse Norris 821 @ 198 – conventional

Alexander Obukhovich 904 @ 231 – sumo

Alexander Pekanov 1003 – conventional

Aleksander Grachev 992 – sumo

Misha Koklyaev 920 – conventional

Andrey Ivanets 838 @ 223 – sumo

Eric Lilliebridge 900 – conventional

Oleksandr Kutcher 792 @ 165 – sumo

Garry Frank  931 – conventional


Dan Austen 694 @ 148 – sumo

Eddie Hall 1018 – conventional


When it comes to getting a big deadlift, it’s important to always keep these three rules in mind and find the optimal technique that suites you.

If you’d like help finding the technique that’s best for you, send me an email at with “DEADLIFT” in the subject line.



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8 thoughts on “Sumo and Conventional Deadlift Technique: The 3 Most Important Rules

  1. farhina

    After reading this post only one words comes out from my mouth that is “WoW”. This post has helps me to acquire some new knowledge. So thanks for sharing your valuable ideas with us.

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  4. Shane

    Skim your entire body with the bar, eh? Interesting. I’ve always kept it close up to my knees, but never thought about it after that. I’m going to try focusing in keeping it closer even at the top and see how it goes 🙂

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