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How to optimize your exercise selection from the gang of nine - Part 10

Although the back is heavily involved in the sumo deadlift, the hips and thighs take relatively more stress.

The knee flexion in the sumo deadlift is usually greater than in the regular deadlift, but less than what should be used in squat variations.

Some trainees have body structures that are better suited to the sumo deadlift than the conventional style. Trainees who prefer a wide stance in the squat, and who have good leverages for the squat but not so favorable ones for the deadlift, may prefer the sumo style. Tall people who have poor leverages for the squat and the conventional deadlift may be able to sumo deadlift efficiently.

The key factor is being able to maintain correct positioning with the lower spine slightly hollowed. The sumo style may enable some trainees to keep the proper back set at a lower position than they can in the conventional deadlift, and hold it with less difficulty throughout the exercise.

What if you can't perform the conventional deadlift properly?

Some trainees are unable to use correct technique while deadlifting conventionally. If this applies to you, even though you've done your best to follow the guidance in Chapter 12 on the technique of the conventional deadlift, substitute the partial deadlift, from pins set at just below knee height inside a power rack. (The technique of the partial deadlift is also described in Chapter 12.)

The full-range stiff-legged deadlift isn't included in the programs because it's a perilous exercise.

The partial deadlift fixes the problems of most trainees who can't deadlift safely in the conventional manner, but at the expense of some range of motion, and the loss of any meaningful involvement of the quadriceps. But substantial back, hip, hamstring and grip involvement remain.

The parallel-grip deadlift can replace the straight-bar deadlift — the former is technically easier for most trainees because you stand inside the bar and have no bar to get around your knees. But the parallel-grip deadlift is more of a substitute for the squat than the straight-bar deadlift, because of the greater knee flexion that's possible in the parallel-grip deadlift than the conventional deadlift.

Which exercises should you select?

Of the gang of nine, seven are primarily squatting movements: back squat, front squat, parallel-grip deadlift, sumo deadlift, leg press, ball squat and hip-belt squat, albeit the degree of knee flexion isn't the same in all of them. The leg press, ball squat and hip-belt squat have very little back involvement — insufficient to yield muscle growth in the back.

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