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Sumo Deadlifts

What Is A Sumo Deadlift?

How To Do A Dumbbell Deadlift

Jump Straight To Deadlift Instructions

The Sumo Deadlift is a variation that uses a wide stance, with its name coming from the wide stance position sumo wrestlers take in the famous Japanese sport. This deadlift targets the whole body but places the greatest emphasis on the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and adductors.

The sumo deadlift differs in both its foot positioning and grip positioning than a conventional deadlift, and requires less range of motion. The angle of the torso in this variation also places less pressure on the lower back in this version. 

Due to the reduced range of motion, performers can often lift a greater load than with a conventional deadlift, which is why the sumo is often used in powerlifting competitions.

Sumo deadlifts can be performed with dumbbells or a barbell. When using a barbell, you'll need to load it with bumper plates to ensure that the bar is elevated off the floor. Using plates that are too small will mean the bar is too low, which can result in poor form. If you find yourself with plates that are too small, you can elevate the bar using plates on the floor. 

Check out our other deadlift variations: conventional deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, dumbbell deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, rack pulls, B stance deadlifts,

Commonly Asked Questions On Sumo Deadlifts

What Muscles Do Sumo Deadlifts Work?

Most of the major muscle groups are involved in the sumo deadlift, making it an effective full body movement. The muscles that will gain significant strength are the muscles that make up the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, calves, erector spinae, lats and rear delt muscles.

Is Sumo Deadlift Easier?

Sumo deadlifts aren’t automatically easier than any other types of deadlifts, although people may find it easier to lift heavier weights as the range of movement is shorter.

One thing that can affect how different deadlifts feel is your anatomy. For example, those with longer limbs may find a sumo deadlift more suitable, whereas shorter individuals may find the conventional easier.

Can You Lift More With A Sumo Deadlift?

You may find that you are able to lift a greater load with the sumo deadlift as opposed to the conventional deadlift, which is due to the reduced range of motion that the sumo requires. The wider stance means that lifters do not have to move the load as far as with a conventional positioning.

While most lifters can lift a greater load with a sumo deadlift, this is not always the case. We’d advise practising both variations to see which works best for you, or including a mix of deadlifts in your programme!

Should I do Sumo or Conventional Deadlifts?

There is no one deadlift variation that is better than all others. Try all variations to see if there is one that you prefer, for example due to your anatomy, or simply because it fits better with your workout routine.

There’s also nothing wrong in incorporating both variations into your workout schedule, but we’d advise doing these on different training days to ensure your body can recover effectively.

Sumo Deadlift Tips

To ensure most of the load is being lifted by the lower body muscles and not the back during the sumo deadlift, it’s important to maintain a neutral spine and brace your core. This refers to keeping your spine straight to prevent it from flexing.

A neutral spine refers to keeping the spine straight and preventing it from flexing. To do this, you’ll need to focus on sitting into the deadlift, lifting your chest, and pulling your shoulder blades together.

Bracing your core also helps to protect the spine during the lift and helps with balance and stability. To brace your core, as you breathe out before lifting push your stomach outwards and hold it as if somebody were about to punch you in the stomach. Hold this until you reach the top of the movement, before breathing out as you begin to lower the barbell to the floor.

How To Do A Sumo Deadlift

  1. Approach the barbell with a wide stance, just outside shoulder width apart. To ensure that your feet are in the correct position, consider where your shoelaces are tied and stand with them directly under the bar. Externally rotate your toes so they point out to the sides.

  2. Once you’ve found your stance, push your hips back and bend your knees to grip the bar in between your knees. We would advise using a pronated grip so that your palms are facing downward to avoid muscular imbalances.

    Some people like to use a mixed grip as it can help you to lift more weight and avoid grip fatigue. It’s important to swap the grip of each hand over to avoid imbalances if you choose this option.

  3. Once you’ve found your grip and stance position, you’ll need to ‘pull the slack out of the bar’. This refers to creating tension between your body, the floor, and the barbell to help maintain technique throughout the lift, minimise injury and prepare the body for lifting.

    To do this, keep your feet planted and your grip on the barbell strong before bringing your hips down to sit back into the deadlift and pinning your shoulder blades back.

  4. The final preparation for the deadlift requires the chest to lift and the scapula to be retracted. To do this, sit further into the deadlift ensuring your hips sit higher than your knees but lower than your shoulders.

    To lift your chest up, pull your shoulder blades together as if you’re trying to hold a pencil between them. You’ll want to try and keep your shoulder blades in this position for the entirety of the lift. With your chest up and scapula down, your shins should now be vertical to the floor and your armpits sitting directly above the bar.

  5. Your set up is now complete and you’re ready to deadlift! Keeping the barbell as close to your legs as possible throughout the lift, take a deep breath in, allowing your stomach to push outwards and your core to become rigid.

  6. Drive through both feet, imagining pushing the ground away from you, similar to how you would when using the leg press machine. Be patient as the bar starts to lift off the ground – you want your hips and knees extend at the same time.

    As the bar rises, you’ll need to push your hips forward, squeezing the glutes and hamstring as you reach full lock out of the hips. Ensure to extend until you’re standing tall and no further!

  7. To reverse the deadlift, maintain your neutral spine with the shoulder blades pinned back before pushing your hips back and hinging until the barbell passes your knees. From this position, bend the knees so that the barbell is back on the floor again. Think about performing a Romanian deadlift until just past the knees before flexing your knees to place the barbell back on the floor.

  8. Before starting the next rep, reset your positioning and revise steps 3 and 4 to ensure you’re ready to lift again!

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.