Posted 08 December 2019 by Elsie Doss

The Ultimate

Sumo Deadlift Guide

Published: 8 Dec 2019

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The sumo deadlift is an adaptation of the conventional deadlift. It happens to be a little more technical than others so learning may take some time. The few subtle changes causing the exercise to have different muscular benefits help this deadlift to be a bit easier, however. Just what muscles do sumo deadlifts work, you ask? Well, I will be answering that, and some other frequently asked questions soon.

The conventional deadlift is pretty straightforward. Stand with your legs shoulder length apart and keep your back straight while leaning down and while lifting it. That is, of course, is not a very detailed explanation, but it is the main idea. We will be going into a lot more detail about the sumo deadlift later.

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First off, we need to start with the basics. What exactly is the sumo deadlift? It is just a little different than the conventional. While lifting conventionally, you put a certain emphasis on various parts of your body by standing a specific way. The bar is raised differently than it is with the sumo type, and how high the bar can be lifted is directly affected by this.

The sumo version of deadlifting is ideal for beginners. This is because there is less stress put on the back. Starting in a squatting position makes it easier as well. The lower stance allows for people with poor mobility to deadlift too. This type of deadlift is used by individuals trying to improve their strength or by some experts just trying to add more to their exercise routine.

Sumo deadlifting is accepted in powerlifting competitions and even the Olympics. Strongmen competitions are different, however. The sumo styles ease of use and the ability to lift more weight disqualifies it. If you are wondering what type of deadlifting is for you, I will walk you through figuring it out, at least when it comes to the sumo lift.

At first, you need to evaluate your exercise routine and see what fits. All of the types of lifting have different focuses and determining your weaknesses will probably be a good start. What are your reasons for going into deadlifting? If your answer has to do with building up your strength, then this is a good start. Conventional deadlifting is better for reps, which are not as easy while lifting sumo.

You do not want to confuse your body with too many various workouts. Choose the main idea to bring to fulfillment and go with it. Having clear goals helps with decision making. Also, you want to ensure that your body is flexible enough for this stance. You are going to need to at least need the flexibility to pick up the bar without letting your knees buckle or anything like that.

Body type can also help dictate what method is best for you. For the sumo deadlift, your short torso and long arms go a long way. If you are a hasty type of person who likes to grab the bar and lift, this particular deadlift style may not be for you. It requires careful, slow, and steady movements.

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There are many advantages to deadlifting itself, let alone doing it the sumo way. I will answer the previous question: what muscles do sumo deadlifts work? This deadlift version works the same muscles as the conventional but has a new emphasis on a particular group of muscles - the quadriceps. Not only does it give your lower back a little rest, but it also targets your quadriceps and increases activity there. The backs of your lower legs will be your best friends after this exercise.

The distance you lift the bar is also a little shorter and easier than the conventional. It is even sometimes easier to teach and learn as a beginner. Keeping the spine straight is not as hard either.

If the standard style is painful because you are always hitting your knees, go no further. The space between your legs and the bar is more generous, and the path it takes is much shorter. This concept applies to the sumo deadlift in general. It is easier to learn, to pick up, and better for beginners. You just want to make sure it really is for you. Go over your reasons and goals, then decide if you want to try. I suggest that nonetheless. Trying something new in your routine is good every once in a while. Remember to keep an open mind and be willing to try other types of deadlifts to find the one for you.




1. Build Up

Make sure that you are going to lift weights you know you can handle. When starting out it is best to do this to prevent any injury. Knowing the way that you are most comfortable picking up the bar is important too. Whether you use an alternating grip or the standard, be prepared to use it and properly. The technique is especially crucial with the sumo deadlift.

Do not go into this thinking that you will be better at one style over the other. This may be true, but avoiding a type because this is not recommended. You can build up the weaknesses that are found when trying different methods.

You may also want to do somebody stretches to loosen up. When you are physically and mentally prepared, approach the deadlift bar and get into position.

2. Body Position

The position you want to stand and lift the bar is the reason for the name ‘sumo’. With your legs far apart ensure that the middle of your feet matches up to the bar. Do not spread your legs too wide, or you will risk your legs locking, making it harder to retrieve the bar.

Also, make sure your toes are pointed outward and your feet are past the rings on the bar itself. The more inward your toes point, the harder it may be on your hips. Bend at the hips and straighten out your arms, staying below and in line with your shoulders. Using whichever lift that grip you are most comfortable with, grasp the bar and begin the ascent.

3. Bringing it Up

Take a good breath, lower your hips more, and keep your head facing forward. Distribute the weight to the backs of your feet. Spread the floor with your feet and extend your body with your hips. When the bar meets up with your hips, lean back while pulling your shoulder blades together and drive your hips into the bar. This brings you to the height of the lift, and all that is left is the descent.

4. Back to the Ground

Using your hips, bend back down and slowly place the bar on the floor. Keep the weight steady on the way down and, voila! You have completed your first sumo deadlift. Your hips and quadriceps will appreciate the extra attention. Your back leg muscles get less attention than they do with the conventional deadlift. However, the glutes, hamstrings, and tour adductor muscles get the same amount of care with both types of deadlifting.

5. Bring it On… Again

You probably want to more than just one lift, right? That’s cool. Just make sure to completely place the bar back on the ground after each lift. If you do not, it is not actually deadlifting.

You will have to mix it up, by doing only one type of deadlift can overdevelop muscles and put unneeded strain on the body. It also does not have much carry over when it comes to training for other sports or lifting competitions.

If you are training for this type of lift specifically, you may still want to throw in some conventional lifts here and there, to balance your muscular composure. The Olympics accept this version as do powerlifting competitions. The only athletic institution you may run into problems with this style is at a strongman competition. Besides, strongman competitions are supposed to be a bit stricter when it comes to regulating the types of lifts allowed.

Deadlifting is an amazing way to increase your fitness. With so many different types, it can be overwhelming when choosing one to do. The sumo deadlift and the Romanian deadlift seems to be the best ones for beginners. The sumo deadlift is relatively straightforward, having a practical and helpful reference to sumo wrestlers.

This weight training exercise is suitable for most people. Since each individual person has their own needs, finding the one that’s right for you may take some time. Patience and willingness to try new things is a must.

What is your favorite way to deadlift? Has the sumo deadlift helped you in your athletic endeavors? Let me know in the comments what you think!

​Written by Elsie Doss


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