What is sumo deadlift? The Sumo Deadlift: A Step-by-Step Guide

The lifter widens their stance and lifts a barbell with their hands inside their thighs in the sumo deadlift. It’s often easier on the lower back and allows the lifter to pull higher weight than the traditional deadlift, which is done with a narrower stance with the hands outside of the legs.

The sumo deadlift is also more beneficial for lifters with longer torsos and less deadlift experience, according to the Journal of Sports Science Medicine.

What is sumo deadlift
What is sumo deadlift

But before you give it a shot, here’s what you need to know about sumo deadlifting.

What Is a Sumo Deadlift?

What Is a Sumo Deadlift?

A sumo deadlift is a version of the classic deadlift, a weight-lifting exercise in which you hinge at the hips and lift a barbell or bar to hip level. You assume a significantly broader stance in a sumo deadlift than you would in a regular deadlift.

According to Van Paris, this body stance brings the upper half of the body closer to the ground, reducing the amount of forwards hinge and reducing low back strain.

When grasping the bar, your hands are inside your legs, says Kollath. In a sumo deadlift, you engage your entire body, but the posterior chain, notably the glutes and hamstrings, gets the most attention.

The Sumo Deadlift: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Sumo Deadlift: A Step-by-Step Guide

The sumo deadlift is a popular exercise for many people. That does not imply that it is a less difficult movement. It’s not the case. Here’s how to do a sumo deadlift properly, step by step.

Step 1: The Set-Up.

Begin by assuming a wide stance with your toes pointed out slightly. The stance should be wide enough for the arms to reach downwards, inside the knees (elbows inside the knees). The width of one’s stance varies from person to person.

However, the breadth should allow the athlete to have his or her shins perpendicular to the floor, his or her back flat, and his or her shoulders directly above the bar.

Step 2: Remove the Slack from the Bar

To produce a feeling of full-body tension, tense your core, back, legs, and buttocks once you’re in place. Pull the bar up slightly and force the legs through the floor (without moving the bar yet).

Take one more breath after you’ve achieved your optimal tension position, and then move on to step three.

Step 3: Use Your Legs to Drive

Use Your Legs to Drive

It’s time to draw the barbell by simultaneously pressing through the feet and pulling up on the bar, now that you’re in the correct positions and there’s no slack in the bar or your body.

The idea is to keep the barbell close to the body as you stand up, rather than allowing the chest to sink or the hips to rise during the pull. Drive through your legs while pressing into your heels and maintaining your hips and chest in place.

Step 4: Remove the Weight

The weight should be ascending your legs at this moment. It’s possible that the bar will begin to drag you down or stop moving completely.

Avoid allowing your chest to slump forwards or your upper back to round. To get the bar to hip level, keep pushing through your heels and then squeezing your glutes.

The Sumo Deadlift has a lot of advantages.

The Sumo Deadlift has a lot of advantages.

When incorporating the sumo deadlift into a training regimen, the following three benefits can be expected.

Mechanics that are more at ease (for Some)

The sumo deadlift excels because it is designed to be user-friendly from the start (for most folks, that is). The shorter range of motion is due to the broader stance and narrower arm posture, which is why most people can lift somewhat more weight than they can with a regular deadlift.

Some lifters, particularly those in the powerlifting scene, believe the sumo deadlift is a form of cheating. It isn’t, and if a lifter is short and has short arms, the sumo deadlift might not be the ideal option for them.

Lower Back Strain is Reduced

Lower Back Strain is Reduced

The sumo deadlift, unlike the traditional deadlift, requires the lifter to maintain a more vertical torso position (due to the foot placement).

The lower back is not as stressed as it is in a Romanian or conventional deadlift because the vertical angle of the back is increased (the torso is more upright). Lifters who want to limit lower back stress, monitor training volume to the erectors, or address different components of the pull may find this useful.

More power, particularly at the top

Another deadlift variation that might help you gain overall pulling strength and muscle mass is the sumo deadlift. The sumo deadlift can be performed in a variety of ways, including using bands, changing the lifting tempo, and adding chains.

Because the sumo deadlift typically allows you to lift a higher load, you can overload your muscles with more weight than they’re used to.

This newfound strength should help you finish the upper section of the lift more effectively whenever you return to conventional or trap bar deadlifts.

Sumo Deadlift Muscles Activated

Sumo Deadlift Muscles Activated

The key muscle groups targeted by the sumo deadlift are listed below. The sumo deadlift, like other deadlift variations, works the glutes, hamstrings, and back (posterior chain).

However, there are some minor distinctions in the muscles used by the sumo deadlift, conventional deadlift, and trap bar deadlift.


The sumo deadlift targets the glutes to a large extent since the feet are set broader and turned outwards. The hip is rotated externally, which causes the glutes to engage to a greater extent.


The hamstrings are remain the principal movers in the sumo deadlift, even though they are recruited more intensively in the conventional and Romanian deadlifts.

If a lifter wants to focus solely on the hamstrings, Romanian deadlifts are a better option.



The athlete must attain larger knee flexion angles (bend) to complete the sumo deadlift because of the foot location.

As a result, the quadriceps (which are responsible for knee extension) are targeted more than in the Romanian and conventional deadlifts, but not as much as in the trap bar deadlift. Simply simply, with this deadlift version, you’re squatting a little deeper and thus using more of your thighs.

Spinae Erector (Lower Back)

During the pulling phase of the lift, the lower back muscles, also known as the erectors, work to keep your spine stable.

The spinal erectors can be developed as a result, which is beneficial because they’re often one of the primary limiting factors in a high deadlift (lower back strength).

The sumo deadlift, unlike the traditional and Romanian deadlifts, places less stress on the lower back since the torso is more vertical, allowing other back muscles to take up the slack.

Three Different Sumo Deadlift Variations

Three Different Sumo Deadlift Variations

Lifters can develop sports specificity, strength and power, and movement integrity in the sumo deadlift by using the three sumo variations listed below.

Sumo Deadlift in Deficiency

Deficit sumo deadlifts are a version that tests the movement’s deepest ranges of motion. You may improve pulling strength from the floor and target the glutes and hamstrings more effectively this way.

With Accommodating Resistance, Sumo Deadlift

Adding bands or chains to adjust the difficulty of a lift at the bottom, middle, or top is known as accommodating resistance.

As a result, lifters can overcome stumbling blocks. Chains, for instance, make a lifter heavier at the top (as they come off the floor). You can draw a manageable amount of weight off the floor with chains loaded onto a barbell, then raise that number at the top. As a result, your lockout will become more powerful.

On the other hand, you can secure the other ends of bands to each side of a barbell by looping them around the top of a power rack.

Fill the bar with more weight than you ordinarily could lift (like 10 to 20 percent). The load will lighten as you approach closer to the top, so you’ll be overloading your deadlift’s initial pull.

Sumo Deadlifts at a Fast Pace

Sumo Deadlifts at a Fast Pace

The sumo deadlift can be used for tempo training by simply adding time limitations or cadences to the different phases of the pull.

Typically, the lift’s bottom, top, or middle. You can extend the duration your muscles are under tension (which leads to increased muscular growth) and educate yourself how to better handle weight by modifying your tempo.

F.A.Q what is sumo deadlift:

What is sumo deadlift good for?

This exercise, like the normal deadlift, works all of the major muscular groups. It works the quadriceps and glutes in especially, but it also works the adductors, hamstrings, traps, erector spinae, and core muscles. Sumo deadlifts, when done correctly, can help you improve your hips and posterior chain.

What is the difference between deadlift and sumo deadlift?

Deadlifts are traditionally performed with a narrow stance and a grip breadth on the outside of the legs. Sumo deadlifts allow the athlete to take the widest stance possible while keeping the grip breadth inside the legs. Because the sumo position allows for stronger leg drive, pulling bigger loads without damaging the low back is simple.

Is sumo deadlift harder than regular?

Sumo deadlifts are a more difficult deadlift variation for people with limited hip mobility and weak quads. When compared to normal deadlifts, the sumo deadlift moves slowly off the ground, requiring a lot of leg tension to be harnessed.


Sumo deadlifts are a full-body functional strength training exercise. Traditional deadlifts are performed with a broader foot stance, giving you a shorter range of motion.

As a result, sumo deadlifts put more emphasis on the glutes and quadriceps while simultaneously reducing low-back stress.

Sumo deadlifts can be modified by starting with fewer weights or elevating the weights so that your torso is closer to the ground. You can challenge yourself by adding greater weight once you’ve perfected the form.

Sumo deadlifts are generally safe for most people to perform and can be a wonderful addition to standard deadlifts in your workout.

And this article will help you answer the following questions about what is sumo deadlift:

  • sumo deadlift vs deadlift
  • is sumo deadlift easier
  • sumo deadlift muscles
  • sumo deadlift for glutes
  • sumo deadlift vs sumo squat
  • sumo deadlift vs deadlift muscles worked
  • sumo deadlift with dumbbell
  • sumo deadlift benefits

Field John

If you are an avid believer in health and fitness and want to do something for your team, I can help. As the founder of Field Goals Fitness, I lead a collective of health and fitness professionals dedicated to helping Australians lead a more active and healthier lifestyle. With a warm, friendly, and supportive approach that gets results, I enjoy helping individuals & organisations achieve sustainable success with their health and fitness goals. Certifying as a Personal Trainer in 2009, was a turning point in my life. I had spent 14 years in the corporate world in Business Development roles and decided to take all that I had learnt in sales and marketing and start my own business.

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