The sumo deadlift relies on recruiting the hips, glutes, and legs to initiate the first portion of the pull, while the conventional has a more equal balance between the lower back and hamstrings. Each pull hits similar muscles throughout their full ranges of motion. There are some significant differences in muscle recruitment however. First, the vastus medialis and lateralis (outer/inner quad muscles) are higher in the sumo pull, as this pull incorporates more legs and a slightly more forward lean. Second, the tibial anterior and medial gastrocnemius are different in each pull, which suggests the posterior and anterior portions of the lower limbs are differently engaged between both styles. Furthermore, not wearing a lifting belt made a significant decrease of the activation of the rectus abdominis and external obliques.

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