Sumo Deadlift: Form, How-to, Benefits & More

The sumo deadlift is an effective exercise that increases strength, endurance, performance and promotes hypertrophy. You’ll see all about the sumo deadlift in this article. For example, how to do different sumo deadlift forms, like a dumbbell sumo deadlift, smith machine sumo deadlift, etc; what are important sumo deadlift benefits; what muscles sumo deadlift worked, how it is different from other forms of the deadlift, and more.

The Sumo Deadlift Muscle Worked

The sumo deadlift is a compound workout that works on several muscles at once. Let’s find out what muscles worked during the sumo deadlift.

A list of muscles that highly activate when you do the sumo deadlift based on a meta-analysis published by the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise

The Sumo Deadlift Muscle Worked
lower body muscle

1. Vastus Medialis (Lower Quad):

It is part of the quadriceps muscle group located medially in the thigh that extends the knee.

2. Vastus Lateralis (Side Quadriceps/Lateral Thigh):

It is the largest quadricep muscle that is located on the side of the thigh. It works on the knee and hip to promote movement, strength, and stability.

3. Tibialis Anterior (Shin):

It is the muscle of the shin that helps you walk, jump., run and squat properly.

4. Gluteus Maximus (Buttock):

It is one of the largest muscles of the human body. It works with hamstrings to extend and rotate the hips.

5. Hamstrings

The sumo DL also works on hamstrings that act on the knee and hips to perform several movements, such as walking, squatting, and bending your knees.

Least Activated Muscle in Sumo Deadlift

6. Back: The trapezius muscle also worked when you do sumo deadlift with high knee extension.

7. Core: Doing sumo deadlift by wearing the belt on your waist can elicit greater aviation in the abdominal muscle.


Also Read: https: Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

The Sumo Deadlift Form and Technique

The improper way of lifting can cause unwanted back pain and injuries. That’s why knowing the proper technique is important to perform the sumo deadlift safely and effectively.

The Sumo Deadlift Form And Technique
Sumo Deadlift Form And Technique (Image by Fitmeade on Flickr)

Here are the quick tips that can help you perform sumo deadlift with correct and right technique.

1. Stance

Stance is important in sumo deadlift whether you do it on the smith machine or with dumbbells. However, some people are always confused about the S-Deadlift stance.

Your feet should be two times wider than shoulder-width and 45 degrees externally rotated out to the sides, so your ankles are in line with your knees. So try to maintain this stance throughout the movement.

2. Hip Position

When you bend your knees for lifting the dead weight from the ground, your hips should be raised such that the thighs are slightly above parallel to the ground. (Source)

3. Grip

The grip type will depend on you. You can grip the bar with a double overhand grip, mixed grip, or overhand hook grip. Whichever grip you use, make sure you lift the weight as heavier weight as possible. And when you grip the bar, keep your hands approximately shoulder-width apart with arms straight and between your legs.

4. Keep your chest up and back as straight as possible. Your core should also be engaged.

5. Keep the bar or the dumbbells close to your body throughout the movement.

6. Don’t let yourself lose until your complete the rep.

7. Push your legs into the floor to generate strength so you can lift the bar.

8. Take a deep breath before you lift the weight.

9. Use belt for performing safely and effectively.

The Sumo Deadlift Variations

  1. Smith machine Sumo Deadlift
  2. Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift
  3. Barbell Sumo Deadlift
  4. Sumo Deadlift with kettlebell
  5. Sumo Deadlift High Pull

1. Sumo Deadlift on Smith Machine

Doing sumo deadlift on the smith machine is comparatively easier than the barbell sumo deadlift. The Smith machine provides better balance and safety than other deadlift forms. And it’s ideal for a beginner.

If you’re a beginner, you can start deadlifting on the smith machine for the first couple of weeks.

How to so Sumo Deadlift on Smith Machine

how to do smith machine sumo deadlift
  • Set a barbell to the lowest section of the rack and stand upright with your two times wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your feet slightly out to sides.
  • Externally rotate your hips back and lower yourself with maintaining your back straight.
  • Hold the barbell with an overhand grip or mixed grip (your hands about hip to shoulder-width apart) with your palms facing the body.
  • Brace your core, take a deep breath and lift the bar with your full potential until your knees are fully straight.
  • Hold for a couple of seconds, exhale and then lower the bar to the start. That’s your one repetition.
  • Do as many as reps possible.
  • Raise Hips and shoulders at the same time.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and head position, during the movement.

Important points

  1. Hold the barbell on the floor for a second or two, if you want to do more repetitions.
  2. Don’t be hasty, do the repetitions smoothly.
  3. Keep your back straight and chest up during the movement.

Here’s why you should do the smith machine sumo deadlift

  1. The Smith machine is quite safe as it controls your movements and helps you perform safely. Sometimes, your stronger arm dominates the weaker one and causes imbalance. And the smith machine helps you control this imbalance.
  2. If you do sumo deadlift for rehabilitation purposes, then the smith machine works efficiently.

2. Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift

The dumbbell sumo deadlift is good for beginners because it is safer than a barbell deadlift.

The dumbbells allow you a full range of motion and help you target the specific muscles you want.

Try including the dumbbell sumo deadlift with other dumbbell deadlift variations for better and effective fitness results.

How to do Sumo Deadlift with Dumbbells

how to do sumo deadlift with dumbbells
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your feet slightly out to sides.
  • Externally rotate your hips back and lower yourself while maintaining your back straight.
  • Brace your core, Inhale and lift the dumbbell off the ground. Keep your elbows between your knees.
  • Hold the dumbbell at your thigh level for a second or two, Exhale, and then return to the starting position.
  • Do as many as reps possible.
  • Raise Hips and shoulders at the same time.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and head position, during the movement.
Key points
  1. Hold the barbell on the floor for a second or two, if you want to do more repetitions.
  2. Don’t be hasty, do the repetitions smoothly.
  3. Try not to lower your hips close to the ground because this isn’t a squat.
  4. Keep your back straight and chest up during the movement.

3. Sumo Deadlift with Barbell

The barbell sumo deadlift is the most widely performed variation because of its great effectiveness in strength and conditioning. It works on the overall body, especially the quadriceps, hamstring, lower back, and glutes.

How to do Barbell Sumo Deadlift

  • Stand with your feet double wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your feet slightly out to sides.
  • Externally rotate your hips back and lower yourself with maintaining your back straight.
  • Grab the barbell (your hands about hip-width apart) along with your desired weight with an overhand grip, palms facing the body.
  • Brace your core, Inhale and start lifting the weight (your elbows between the knees).
  • Hold for a second or two and Exhale and then return to the starting position.
  • Do as many as reps possible.
  • Raise Hips and shoulders at the same time.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and head position, during the movement.
Important Points to follow:
  1. Inhale just before the beginning of the lift and exhale after completing one rep.
  2. Hold the barbell on the floor for a second or two, if you want to do more repetitions.
  3. Don’t be hasty, do the repetitions smoothly.
  4. Keep your back straight and chest up during the movement.

4. Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift

The kettlebell sumo deadlift is one of the forms of the sumo deadlift which can use to target the muscles of the posterior chain. This is a part of free weight training and good for targeting specific muscles.

How to Sumo Deadlift with Kettlebell

Source: Vimeo
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your feet slightly out to sides.
  • Externally rotate your hips back and lower yourself with maintaining your back straight.
  • Your hands must be between your legs. Brace your core, Inhale and lift the kettlebell off the ground.
  • Hold the kettlebell in front of your thighs for a second or two and Exhale and then return to the starting position.
  • Do as many as reps possible.
  • Raise Hips and shoulders at the same time.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and head position, during the movement.
Pro Tips
  1. Hold the barbell on the floor for a second or two, if you want to do more repetitions.
  2. Don’t be hasty, do the repetitions smoothly.
  3. Try not to lower your hips close to the ground because this isn’t a squat.
  4. Keep your back straight and chest up during the movement.

5. Sumo Deadlift High Pull

The sumo deadlift high pull is the total body workout that works on several muscles such as Hamstrings, Gluteals, Trapezius, Quadriceps etcetera, at one time. Doing the Sumo deadlift high-pull will be a good choice when you don’t have sufficient time to make you sweat.

How to do the Sumo deadlift High Pull

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your feet slightly out to sides.
  • Externally rotate your hips back and lower yourself by bending your knees. Grab the barbell with an overhand grip about hip-width apart. palms facing the body.
  • Brace your core, Inhale and start lifting the weight (your elbows should be in between the knees).
  • When your knees are fully extended, bend your elbows and pull up them until reaching the neck.
  • Hold for a second or two and Exhale and then return to the starting position.
  • Do as many as reps possible.
  • Raise Hips and shoulders at the same time.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and head position, during the movement.
Key points
  1. Hold the barbell on the floor for a second or two, if you want to do more repetitions.
  2. Don’t be hasty, do the repetitions smoothly.
  3. Try not to lower your hips close to the ground because this isn’t a squat.
  4. Keep your back straight and chest up during the movement.

Sumo Deadlift vs Conventional Deadlift (Key Differences)

  1. The sumo deadlift put less tension on the lower back as compared to the conventional deadlift. The reason is when we do the sumo deadlift we keep our erector spine as straight as possible, but when we performed the conventional deadlift it requires more use of the erector spine and put stress on the lower back.
  2. An analysis shows that the sumo deadlift is better for targeting the quads and hamstring as compared to the conventional deadlift. Because the sumo deadlift requires more knee flexion which is important for the quads development. On the other hand, the conventional deadlift doesn’t require much knee flexion which doesn’t help much in targeting the quads and hams deeply.
  3. When it comes to the hip extension so there is no difference between them. Doesn’t matter where you place your feet, the demand for the hip extension is the same in both.
  4. One of the simple differences between the sumo deadlift and conventional deadlift is that sumo deadlift needs more quad strength while conventional deadlift needs more back strength.

The Sumo Deadlift Benefits

Here we take a look at the list of sumo deadlift benefits:

1. Great for the muscles development of quadriceps, hamstring, and glutes

One of the major benefits of the sumo deadlift is you can specifically target your quadriceps and hamstrings.

The knee flexion and your stance will help you target the said muscles deeply. So, the sumo deadlift great for the development of quads, hams, and glutes.

2. Improves and Increases lifting strength

As other deadlift forms the sumo deadlift also improve and increase pulling or lifting strength.

If you have good pulling or lifting strength It may sometimes help you in your daily activities when you need to lift some heavy items.

Good lifting strength also helps you in different activities like sports.

3. Improve posture

The sumo deadlift fixes bad posture if you have and improve it that makes you look athletic. One of my friends has bad postures and he starts deadlifting and surprisingly his posture very well improved in just 2 months.

4. The Sumo DL Strengthen Muscles and Prevent Injuries

The sumo deadlift decreases the chances of injuries by putting less stress on the lumbar spine compared to conventional deadlifting. Use a belt when you lift heavy weight because the belt protects you from muscle imbalance.

5. The Sumo DL Use as Rehabilitation Exercise For Lower Back Pain

The Sumo DL can be used in rehabilitation programs. For example, it can efficiently work for rehabilitation patients with mechanical lower back pain. Because it increases the spinal strength and prevents lower back pain.

However, it is important to ensure that you have sufficient back extensor strength and endurance and a sufficiently low pain intensity level to benefit from training involving the deadlift exercise, a study published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggested.


Related: Deadlift Health Benefits: 10 Reasons Why You Should Deadlift

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Different Between Sumo Deadlift vs Sumo squat?

The sumo squats work mostly on the quads and hamstring but the sumo deadlift worked on many muscles at one time as compared to the sumo squats. Sumo squats also don’t play any role in lifting strength which makes sumo deadlift more important than sumo squats.

Is Sumo Deadlift Easier?

It depends on your strength and power. If you’re a beginner, you’ll find it difficult to do and you’ll also feel back pain in the beginning. However, once you start lifting, it will become easier to perform in just a couple of months.

One thing also makes something difficult or easy is technique because if you don’t follow the right technique even an easy thing like a push-up will be difficult to perform. So try to follow the right technique for doing any workout either sumo deadlift or push-ups.


Let me know in the comment section if you find this article useful or not. If you think I missed something or I’ve written something incorrect feel free to tell me, I would appreciate your suggestions.

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