Sumo Barbell Deadlifts

Sumo deadlift, a variation of the traditional deadlift, is an essential exercise for anyone looking to improve their strength and fitness. This guide will look into the specifics of the sumo deadlift, exploring its execution, the muscles involved, and the benefits it provides.

What is a Sumo Deadlift?

The sumo deadlift is a variation of the traditional deadlift, characterized by a notably wider stance. This distinctive positioning is not merely a matter of preference but serves to significantly alter the biomechanics of the lift. By adopting a stance that mimics that of sumo wrestlers poised at the start of a bout, practitioners of the sumo deadlift engage in a movement that places a different emphasis on the muscle groups involved, compared to the conventional deadlift.

In the sumo deadlift, the wide stance necessitates a more upright torso position, which reduces the shear force on the lower back and shifts the primary workload to the quadriceps, glutes, and inner thigh muscles. This redistribution of effort can offer unique advantages, particularly for individuals seeking to target these specific areas or those who may be looking to modify their training due to lower back concerns.

Moreover, the sumo deadlift is often praised for its potential to enhance lifting efficiency, especially for athletes with longer limbs, by effectively shortening the range of motion required. This can lead to improvements in lift performance and may reduce the risk of injury.

How to Execute a Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift starts with the lifter squatting down to grip a barbell. The barbell should be resting just above the ground, roughly the height of the lifter's shins. The lifter's stance should be wider than their shoulder-width, with their feet turned outwards at an angle between 30 and 50 degrees.

The grip can be overhand, underhand, or mixed, with one hand over and the other under the bar. A mixed grip often provides greater stability. The lifter's shoulders should be slightly ahead of the barbell when viewed from the side, and their arms should be positioned inside their legs. The shoulder blades should be retracted, and the hips should be flexed enough to allow the hands to grip the bar while maintaining a strong back position.

Before starting the lift, the lifter should ensure their back is in a strong position and they are looking forward at a fixed point. The lift itself involves simultaneously extending the hips and knees, and performing a plantar flexion until the lifter is standing upright with their legs apart and knees extended.

During the lift, the barbell should be kept as close to the body as possible. This is achieved by extending the shoulder, which helps to reduce the load on the spine. It's crucial to keep the knees aligned with the feet throughout the movement to avoid injury.

Muscles Engaged in a Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift engages multiple muscle groups, providing a comprehensive workout. The primary muscles involved are:

Group 0: Gluteus Maximus and HamstringsThese muscles are responsible for hip extension during the lift.

Group 1: Adductor MusclesThese muscles contribute to hip adduction.

Group 2: QuadricepsThese muscles facilitate knee extension.

Group 3: Calf Muscles and Foot FlexorsThese muscles perform plantar flexion.

Group 4: Back and Arm MusclesThese muscles assist in shoulder extension during the eccentric phase of the lift.

In addition to these primary muscles, several stabilizing muscles contribute to maintaining the stability of the spine, shoulder blades, elbow, grip, hip, knee, ankle, and foot during the lift.


The sumo deadlift is a powerful exercise that provides a full-body workout, emphasizing the lower body and core muscles. Its unique biomechanics make it a valuable addition to any strength training routine. As with any exercise, proper form is crucial to maximize benefits and minimize the risk of injury. Therefore, it's recommended to learn this exercise under the guidance of a qualified fitness professional.

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