Increasing Flexibility for Sumo

With powerlifting news + a coach shares advice on muscle recovery.

This week we’re diving into deadlift and bench. We’ll respond to two reader questions from last week and share several resources. As always, please let us know how we’re doing! (Poll at the bottom of this newsletter.)

This Week’s Resources

Powerlifting Questions Answered

Each week, we ask what you’re working on. And each week, you answer. Some of you also mention specific issues. So, we asked our coaches for answers.

Remember, you can always book a consultation with our coaches.

Question 1: Suffering with the Sumo Deadlift

“I lack the flexibility I need to do the part sumo pull directly off the ground. The bar is raised about 4 inches for me to get a comfortable pull. How can I fix this? Any recommendations for exercises/rep ranges/etc? Thanks!”

- Stumped by Sumo

We asked coach Joseph Lucero for his response. Here’s what he said.

Great question! Pulling off the floor can be tough for any lifter, especially someone who lifts sumo!

One exercise I love to do with sumo lifters is "floating tempo deadlifts" which requires an athlete to do the sumo deadlift but never touch the floor.

The idea is that the lifter lifts the first rep off the floor, then as they descend with the bar they drop their hips and maintain good posture until they are close to the floor. This descent must be slow, 5 seconds in duration. Then before the lifter touches the floor with the barbell, they pause briefly and lift the bar with speed.

Then the lift starts over.

This exercise helps increase strength at the bottom of your deadlift and maintain constant tension from start to finish. That helps fight exhaustion. It also helps with posture.

Want to a video of how to do floating sumo deadlifts? Here’s one from Coach Lucero’s Instagram:

If you’re looking for more specific exercises, check out our full guide to Sumo Deadlift mobility from podcast host and competitive powerlifter, Elena Popadic.

Our courses, taught by one-time coach for Team Canada, have even more specific guidance. And they’re on sale.

Not sure where to start?

Check out this free powerlifting course covering the 13 must-know principles for a more effective powerlifting technique.

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Question 2: Muscles Crying in Anguish

“All my muscles seem to cry in anguish day 2 and day 3 from workout. Is there anything scientificaly proven I can take orally that will help with muscle pain so I can function as a human? Thanks”

- Sorely Sore

This is a great question, and there are a few scientifically proven ways to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. But your best bet is to talk with your healthcare provider. They’ll know your specific physical needs, and they can best advise you on an effective solution.

That said, it’s also important to consider your powerlifting program. We asked Lucero for his insight here too.

Here’s what he said:

In this situation, context is key. One thing people undermine when it comes to programming is rest days and exercise order. I have met clients and lifters who told me they will train legs 2-3 days a week, and they do it consecutively.

One question to consider is whether you are hitting the same muscle groups too often, which impedes rest. If you bench press on Monday, I wouldn't bench press until Thursday.

And on Thursday, I would try a variation of the bench press. So if you bench press on Monday, do a close grip bench press on Thursday.

Or you could even try an incline press, or dumbbell bench press, this will give you a chance to hit that same muscle group from a different position to help recruit different fibers of the same muscle.

Additional Resources

Here are a few more resources to check out this week.

Here's how to avoid squat mistakes while powerlifting.
With specific push exercises.
A complete guide to preventing powerlifting injuries.

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