Sumo Deadlift: How To & Benefits

Written by Daniel Mesa

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The sumo deadlift is a powerful variation of the classic deadlift that works for many different muscle groups and has many benefits for strength, stability, and general fitness. In this detailed guide, we’ll go over the right way to do the sumo deadlift, give you important tips for improving your form, and point out common mistakes to avoid. Also, we’ll talk about the muscles this exercise uses and list all the great things it can do for you. To make sure you have a complete idea of strength training, we will also show you other exercises that go with the sumo deadlift. Let’s get started!

How To Do The Sumo Deadlift

how to do sumo deadlift

The sumo deadlift uses a wide stance with the feet pointed slightly outward. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to perform this exercise:

Set Your Stance

Start by standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Position your toes at approximately a 45-degree angle.

Grip the Barbell

Bend your hips and knees to lower yourself to the barbell. Ensure your grip is wide, with your hands inside your knees.

Engage Your Core

Brace your core muscles to stabilize your spine.

Lift with Your Legs

Push through your heels and extend your hips and knees simultaneously to lift the barbell off the ground. Maintain a straight back throughout the lift.

Full Extension

Stand up straight with your hips and knees fully extended, holding the barbell close to your body.

Lower with Control

To return the barbell to the ground, reverse the motion, hinging at the hips and bending your knees. Keep the barbell close to your legs as you lower it.

Repeat

Perform the desired number of repetitions while maintaining proper form.

Our Tips For Sumo Deadlift Form

Tip 1: Maintain a Neutral Spine

When performing the sumo deadlift, your priority should be maintaining a neutral spine. This means you should keep your back straight, not round or twist. Your lower back is less likely to get hurt if your spine is in a normal position. To do this, put your attention on using your core muscles. Imagine protecting your middle as if you were getting ready to take a punch. This helps support your spine while you lift, making sure it stays in a safe and healthy position.

Tip 2: Keep the Bar Close

Keeping the barbell close to your body during the whole sumo deadlift is important. This practice meets two very important goals. First, it reduces the stress on your lower back by ensuring your weight is evenly spread and your back stays safe. Second, keeping the barbell close helps you work your leg muscles, especially your quads and hamstrings, as much as possible. This makes your lift more effective and less likely to hurt your back.

Tip 3: Hip Mobility

Hip mobility is essential for sumo deadlifting safely. Hip mobility is needed for a deep, comfortable start. Without it, getting into the right stance or maintaining form during the lift may be difficult. Warm up with hip flexor stretches, dynamic leg swings, and mobility drills to increase hip mobility. These workouts will increase your flexibility and range of motion for a safe and efficient sumo deadlift. Hip mobility improves performance and minimizes injury risk during this activity.

Common Sumo Deadlift Mistakes To Avoid

Mistake 1:  Rounded Back

When doing a sumo deadlift, a common mistake is to round your back. This can be dangerous. When your back turns, it puts too much stress on the spinal discs and makes it more likely that you will hurt your back. Focus on keeping your back neutral the whole time you lift to avoid this. Engage your core muscles to keep your back straight and steady. This will lessen the strain on your lower back and make sure you lift more safely and effectively.

Mistake 2: Overextending

At the top of the sumo deadlift, another mistake to avoid is putting too much strain on your lower back. During the lift, it’s important to fully extend your hips, but stretching them too far can hurt or hurt your lower back. Instead, extend your hips fully without bending your lower back too much. This makes sure that your glutes and hips are working well and that your posture is safe and stable.

Mistake 3: Ignoring Hip Mobility

Hip mobility neglect can ruin your sumo deadlift form and performance. Hip mobility can limit your starting posture, making the lift difficult. Incorporate hip mobility exercises into your workout to fix this. These workouts will help you reach the essential range of motion for a better sumo deadlift and less damage. To get the most out of this workout, prioritize hip mobility.

Muscles Worked By Sumo Deadlift

Quadriceps

These muscles are in the front of your legs. They are very important to the sumo deadlift because they extend your knees. When you start to move up from the starting position, these muscles contract to straighten your legs. This is the first force that moves you up in the lift.

Hamstrings

The hamstrings are located at the back of your legs. They help with the sumo deadlift by bending your knees and extending your hips. These muscles work with your quadriceps to make sure that your movement is steady and in control throughout the exercise.

Glutes

The most powerful part of the sumo deadlift is the gluteus maximus, which is the biggest muscle in your buttocks. It does the extending of the hips and moves your body up as you lift the load. You need strong glutes to generate the force you need for a successful lift.

Sumo Deadlift Benefits

Benefit 1: Full-Body Strength

The sumo deadlift is an excellent tool for starting a process of general strength improvement. One of its most impressive features is the simultaneous activation of a number of muscle groups. Extending your hips and knees during this exercise significantly strains the quadriceps and hamstrings. This helps increase the strength of the entire lower body, not just the legs

Furthermore, the hip extension effectively engages the glutes and lower back muscles, boosting strength in these vital areas. However, the sumo deadlift requires much more core engagement to support the spine during the lift. Because it recruits muscles from head to toe, it’s a great option for those who want to get in shape from head to toe.

Benefit 2: Increased Hip Mobility

Improving hip mobility is another benefit of including sumo deadlifts in your normal workout plan. Over time, the wide stance and deep squat position required by this exercise will help you develop greater hip flexibility. This greatly benefits your daily life and athletic performance. It expands the range of motion, making common motions like bending, squatting, and reaching more natural and relaxed. 

Increased hip mobility can improve performance in other exercises, including squats and lunges, and minimize strain or injury risk. The sumo deadlift is a great way to increase your hip mobility, which can help you with everything from athletic performance to daily comfort.

Benefit 3: Enhanced Posture and Stability

Good posture and strong abdominal muscles are two additional benefits of practicing the sumo deadlift with correct form. Keeping your spine in a neutral position while performing this exercise will prevent any rounding or arching of the back. This focus on spinal alignment can help you develop improved posture habits that will carry over from the gym to the rest of your life. 

The sumo deadlift also requires considerable use of the abdominal muscles to maintain spinal stability and prevent any bending or twisting that might happen. Over time, this increases core strength and stability, which is important for body mechanics in general. Increased awareness of your body, less back pain, and fewer injuries are all benefits of improved posture and core strength.

Alternatives To Sumo Deadlift

Exercise Option 1: Conventional Deadlift

People often think of the conventional deadlift as the brother of the sumo deadlift because it has a narrower stance and grip. This change puts a little more focus on different muscle groups, especially the lower back. You work the lower back more when you put your feet hip-width apart and hold the load with your hands outside your knees. This exercise is great for building power in the lower back and strengthening the muscles that keep the spine stable. 

It also helps you get a strong hip flexion and tests your grip strength. The conventional deadlift is a good exercise to add to your workout schedule to work on your lower back and get stronger overall.

Exercise Option 2: Romanian Deadlift

The RDL, or Romanian deadlift, is a version that focuses on the hamstrings and lower back. It’s a great practice for making these areas stronger and more stable. Start the Romanian deadlift by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell in front of your legs. When you turn at the hips and keep your knees slightly bent, your hamstrings will feel a strong stretch. 

The eccentric phase, in which you slowly lower the barbell, is the most important part of the move. You use a strong hip extension to get back to a standing position. By adding Romanian deadlifts to your routine, you can improve the flexibility of your hamstrings, strengthen your lower back, and improve the general development of your back muscles.

Exercise Option 3: Kettlebell Swing

The glutes, hamstrings, and lower back are all worked on by kettlebell swings, which are a dynamic and explosive workout. This practice goes well with sumo deadlifts because it makes your hips stronger and more mobile. You’ll stand with your feet shoulder-width apart for kettlebell swings and hold the kettlebell with both hands between your legs. 

With a small bend in your knees, you’ll start the swing by pushing your hips back, then forcefully extending them forward, lifting the kettlebell to chest height. This linear movement uses the whole back, making it stronger, more powerful, and easier to coordinate.

Bottom Line On Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift is a valuable addition to any strength training routine. It can help you get stronger, more mobile, and more physically fit if done correctly. Focus on proper form, work up to a heavier weight as you gain confidence, and do other exercises to complete your regimen.

FAQs

How is the sumo deadlift different from the conventional deadlift?

The primary difference lies in the stance and grip. Sumo deadlifts use a wider stance and grip inside the knees, while conventional deadlifts involve a narrower stance and grip outside the knees.

Can beginners do the sumo deadlift safely?

Yes, beginners can perform sumo deadlifts safely by starting with light weights, focusing on form, and gradually increasing the weight as they become more experienced.

How often should I include sumo deadlifts in my workout routine?

It depends on your fitness goals, but 1-2 times a week is a common frequency for strength training exercises like sumo deadlifts.

Can sumo deadlifts help with fat loss?

While sumo deadlifts primarily target strength and muscle development, they can contribute to fat loss indirectly by increasing your metabolism and promoting overall body strength.

Are there any age restrictions for performing sumo deadlifts?

Age is not a significant factor; however, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or concerns before starting a new exercise routine.

References

  1. Cholewa, J. M., Atalag, O., Zinchenko, A., Johnson, K., & Henselmans, M. (2019). Anthropometrical Determinants of Deadlift Variant Performance. Journal of sports science & medicine, 18(3), 448–453.
  1. Stewart, Matthew & Davies, Timothy & Godeassi, Daniel. (2016). Exercise Highlight: The Sumo Deadlift. Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning. 24.

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