The deadlift is a classic weightlifting exercise that involves lifting a barbell or dumbbells from the ground and rising to a standing position. Two chief options for foot positioning exist: a narrow or conventional stance or a wide or sumo stance. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and you can use your exercise goals to determine the best option for you. Always check with your physician, however, before beginning an exercise program to ensure you do not have any health conditions or injuries that can keep you from safely exercising.
The standard foot positioning for the deadlift is to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, according to вЂњMuscle & Strength.вЂќ You may wish to turn your toes slightly outward to increase your stability and balance during the exercise. Rest a barbell in front of you with your feet halfway underneath the bar. Bend your knees and sink your hips down until your shins are touching the bar and hinge forward at your hips, keeping your back straight, as you reach for the bar. Grip it either in overhand fashion or with an alternating grip of one palm facing your body and the other palm turned away. Lead with your head as you lift the bar to stand erect. Lean forward to return the bar to your starting position.
A sumo or wide-legged deadlift involves standing with your feet greater than shoulder-width apart and your toes turned slightly outward. When you bend down with your barbell, the position you mimic is that of a crouching sumo wrestler. This exercise involves a similar motion to the deadlift, but it involves placing your arms inside your knees while your arms are typically on the outside of your knees in a conventional deadlift.
Your foot positioning can affect the chief muscles utilized in the deadlift exercise. For example, a conventional deadlift specifically targets your erector spinae muscles in your back that are responsible for maintaining proper posture. However, the sumo deadlift shifts some of the emphasis to your lower body, increasing the force on your glutes, hamstrings, thighs and hips.
If you have lower back pain issues, the wide-legged foot positioning may be the better option because it de-emphasizes the back in favor of your leg and buttocks muscles. However, the hips are emphasized more on the sumo deadlift, which can increase hip pain. Also, if you have a shorter torso and/or long arms, a narrow stance may be preferred because it is easier to maintain control of the weight. Conversely, the sumo squat may be better for those with a long torso and shorter arms.