Making the switch.

So recently I released a series of articles addressing the difficulties of powerlifting as a taller athlete. You might have read that and heeded some of my advice and be thinking so how do I switch form.

The answer is not that simple, to be honest.

You might think I just go in and do it the other way right?

But there are so many different factors that impact the way you lift. So today my goal is to address a few of them and hopefully provide you with some clarity.

1. Frequency

So this is something you probably do not think about too much, but, can be hugely important if you change your technique and could increase your opportunity cost dramatically.

For example, Olympic lifters are able to squat with a much higher frequency than most powerlifters primarily because the high bar squat is a much more efficient movement and is less fatiguing on the lower back. At the same time, it is important to recognize that this might require you to devote more time to practicing this movement as it can take more expenditure to continually progress.

So this might allow you to improve faster and initially progress a lot more, but it can also lead to injury and technique breakdown due to high levels of fatigue.

My suggestion, patience, going straight in and pulling sumo every day for example after having never pulled sumo on a regular basis could lead to injury. You will be very unlikely to be able to adapt to the mobility or technical demands. So the best solution to this is to slowly integrate the change. Probably in an offseason, giving yourself time to adapt, perhaps a light session a week which progressively evolves into something heavier which can later be added to. This allows you to have a baseline to build from and does not dramatically increase the risk of injury or high levels of fatigue.

2. Accessories

Shifting the entire way you perform a movement is a large issue in and of itself, requiring greater technical improvement etc.

But, altering your technique and approaching the movement from a different style will also result in different requirements in reference to your musculature so you have to focus on implementing different training methods to ensure that you continually progress.

Taking the earlier example of switching from a conventional to a sumo deadlift you would be switching the requirements of a strong lower back and hamstrings, to strong hips and quads. Obviously, there is still a high level of carryover. Conventional is a great accessory for sumo and vice versa. However, the focus still needs to switch in order to provide a high level of progression and technical proficiency.


3. Performance

This is an interesting component which most of us do not initially consider as we make the switch and that is performance.

it is relatively straightforward but is worth considering, when you switch for example from conventional to sumo there may be some level of performance decline. You may be able to lift less weight or your speed may decline. But, the key to it is expecting that. If you presume that this will occur then if it is less than you expect then ultimately that will be a bonus and will help you from a mental standpoint in the long term as protecting your mental perspective towards the sport is extremely important especially in reference to your feelings as you go into competitions.

4. Equipment

Altering your technique has a number of impacts as I have previously outlined. But, this was one that I had not at all considered until I altered my technique.

However, this can have a significant impact on your ability to effectively perform that movement.

The most prevalent example of this is switching to a high bar position in the squat. Even with the greatest ankle flexibility, to effectively engage one’s quads the main mover in the back squat as a whole especially in the high bar squat, Olympic shoes are often a requirement. Apart from a lot of bigger lifters, there are very few lifters that can squat high bar well in flat shoes.

This does not just apply to the squat, it applies to the bench and deadlift as well, moving your grip from narrow to max width is going to produce a lot more strain on your wrists and could result in you needing to use wraps to protect yourself. Or in the deadlift, the grip is much more important with the sumo so having a shoe with a greater grip becomes a necessity.


On the whole, changing your technique to any degree is exciting and always consistently an element of the sport as you age and your body changes. Ultimately, as I have mentioned there are a variety of components that play into technique switches but the little things can often make a huge difference so don’t forget those aspects of it and remember strength has no limit.



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