Sumo Slack Pull Explained


Sebastian Padilla

Proper Sumo Deadlifts Take Practice

What happens when you rush a sumo deadlift? You often end up out of position and unable to lockout.  Although there might be several great conventional lifters who can speed off the ground, the same cannot be said for great sumo lifters. In order to execute a great sumo lift, you have to put in the work to improve your form.

There are many areas to focus on in order to improve your sumo deadlift form, but one way you can assure technical proficiency is learning to pull the slack out of the bar. The inherent position of the sumo deadlift requires more patience to build tension off the floor compared to conventional deadlifts. In a sumo deadlift, your legs are more far apart, meaning there’s less time to pull the slack out of the bar before executing the lift.

Sumo Slack Pull: Explained

What does pulling the slack out of the bar mean? Well, this is when you build tension against the barbell from the floor. Depending on whether you are using a stiff bar or a deadlift bar, you may or may not see the bend of the bar before the plates are off the ground. When using a deadlift bar you see the aforementioned bend of the bar before the plates leave the ground. 

A good lifter that comes to mind when talking about sumo slack pull is the great Stefi Cohen. You can see the importance of slack pull when you see how well Stefi executes patience by gradually taking the time to build more and more tension against the bar. By taking the time to pull the slack out of the bar, Stefi maximizes her ability to lift as much weight as possible. 

Pull conventional? We've got a video for that. Check it out here, or watch on YouTube.

Slack Pull: How to

How do you pull the slack out of the bar on a sumo deadlift? Regardless of whether you use a stiff or deadlift bar, the approach is the same. 

In order to pull the slack out of the bar, you must lock your back into place by depressing the scapula. You then grab the bar and pull your ribcage down with your abs. After these steps, you want to externally rotate the hips to get them closer to the bar. 

Ultimately you want a strong, stable back and your hips as close to the bar as possible. Now you build tension by pushing through your legs as if you were trying to spread the floor apart. In this wide stance, when pushing through your legs, simultaneously push your hips into the bar as hard as possible. This creates maximum tension and gives the best results.

sebastian performing sumo deadlift at a powerlifting meet
See also: Sebastian's Ultimate Guide to Sumo Deadlifts

Common Mistakes 

There are two main issues people face when trying to add a slack pull to their sumo deadlift. Most people tend to not be aggressive enough when pushing their hips into the bar. This leads to the hips shooting up and the shoulders being past the bar. 

The second most common mistake is not extending through the upper back. When pushing the hips in you want to think about extending your back as if someone was pulling you directly up from your head. This leads to the most amount of tension being applied to the barbell. 

Fixing these common errors will lead to maximum drive in your sumo deadlifts. Pulling the slack out of the bar forces a lifter to have even better form before the bar leaves the ground. This means that once you’ve nailed pulling the slack out of the bar, you can lift even heavier and have better form.

In Conclusion: Give it a Shot

To summarize, the sumo deadlift requires you to pull the slack out of the bar to successfully apply the most amount of tension and move the most amount of weight on the bar. The slack pull is dependent on how good your technique is. By pulling the slack out of the bar before executing the full range of motion, you are setting yourself up to have a better lift. 

Good technique consists of having your arms as long as possible (scapular depression), your ability to extend through your upper back and getting your hips as close to the bar as possible while pushing the floor apart with your legs.  

Regardless of what bar you choose to apply this on you must remain patient and allow yourself to build tension against the barbell to successfully pull the slack out. These small changes can have a big impact on your lifts, not only improving your form but allowing you to lift even more weight.

Still have questions? Let us know!

It's one thing to read it; it's another to do it. And when you're training without a coach, you need to make sure you know what you're doing.

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Alex Gaynor


Sebastian Padilla


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