Sumo Deadlift with Natasha Aughey
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How To Sumo Deadlift With Natasha Aughey
I started at 315 lbs sumo deadlifting. I told Natasha Aughey that I planned on trying to be an athlete and get coached with two or three tips. I also didn’t wear shoes. I’ve only ever tried sumo deadlifting twice in my life. Talking to Natasha, I told her I didn’t even know where to start. I started by stating my conventional deadlift is performed with a narrow stance. The first question I posed to Natasha was, “How do I determine my foot width?”
Foot Width & Grip
Natasha began by saying it depends on each person. She knows some people who go all the way to the plates, being super, super wide. Referencing her range of motion, she can’t go that wide so she went to the first lines on the bars, maybe a little bit wider.
My second question concerned where to grip the bar. Ms. Aughey responded by keeping her grip shoulder width or slightly in, maybe right where the knurling starts to change. I went with my feet slightly outside the lines and gripped right around where the knurling began.
Off The Floor
Natasha told me right away to begin by engaging my lats. I warned her this is a technical flaw I have no matter what type of deadlift I am performing. Her next cue told me to drive with the glutes. I went and did three dead stop pulls at 315 lbs. Natasha said it didn’t look bad.
It didn’t feel bad either. It felt okay. My back felt weird at first but then I dialed it in. I asked Natasha one thing I could fix. Her immediate recommendation had to do with moving my hands out a little wider. She said my pull looked good. I didn’t round my back, which is my tell-tale sign. I round my upper back as much as possible.
Natasha never rounds her upper back. She is in such an upright position. She can’t round and set her back with that slight round. She holds such a good posture off the floor that I wager it transfers very well to her back squat.
Push Hips Forward
So my first tip was shoulder-width apart with the grip, ring to ring with the feet, and driving through the heels with the chest up. Natasha added that another cue is to think about pushing the hips forward.
I will consistently allow my knees to cave in when pulling heavy. I don’t know if it is because I have longer legs or if it is because my glutes are incredibly weak.
I went and pulled 315 lbs again for three stop-and-go reps. I widened my feet a little wider. Going that little bit wider felt like a gulf of greater distance.
At this point, I realized from Natasha’s tips that my conventional deadlift technique is terrible. She didn’t say that, I did. My feet need to be almost Cossack squat wide, shoulder-width grip, and drive through my heels and engage my glutes while my knees drive out as the hips are pushed forward. It felt like five tips (and that includes trying to keep the bar tight to the body).
I went ahead and pulled 405 lbs. Depending on how it felt, I thought about then going to 500 lbs.
But before jumping to 500 lbs, I asked Natasha about giving slack or tension into the bar off the floor. She spoke about using the deadlifting powerlifting bars and how there is a little slack in the bar.
Don’t Fully Exhale Until The Top
A gem of wisdom Natasha Aughey shared involved not fully exhaling until the very top of the lift. Then, at the very top, take a deep breath in and hold it all the way down to the bottom and then do the same thing on subsequent reps. Holding the breath and controlling the breath during the eccentric creates more control in the lift and holds tension the whole way through the lift.
I think I hold my breath when I pull, but I also think I might start breathing out midway through the lift. I took 500 lbs for a double pulling sumo. It didn’t feel bad at all.
A few key takeaways I took away from Natasha Aughey involved engaging the lats, driving the hips forward, and using the glutes to get the hips through. The lats come into play in a huge way when it comes to not bumping the bar away. Hopefully, I’m pulling 700 lbs again using a sumo technique.
Yo, It's Dane
Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!
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