Personal Trainer Tips: Sumo Deadlift

Master the movement

Sumo Deadlifts

Get a stronger deadlift and bigger legs.

Build your glutes and quads with this deadlift variation. With a shorter range of motion you'll be pulling more weight and fixing your overall posture.

How to Preform Sumo Deadlifts

Step 1: Foot Positioning

Place your feet wider than shoulder width apart and pointed slightly outward. This will vary from person to person, but it should be significantly wider than your conventional deadlift stance.

Treat your foot like a tripod. Dig your big toe into the floor, spread your foot, and press your heel into the floor. This will create a subtle arch in your foot and keep you stable during the lift.

Step 2: Grab the Bar

Let your arms naturally fall to the bar and have a firm grip on the bar.

Step 3: Sit Back and Wedge!

This is the most important part of the lift. You will sit back wedging the bar into your shins to bring your femurs parallel to the floor and shins vertical. Your back should be straight and chest open. 

Step 4: Firm Lockout

Pull the bar straight up maintaining a strong brace. Lockout should be should in-line with the hips.

Step 6: Reset

Set the bar on the ground with a slight hip hinge until you get past your knees. At your knees you can flex your knees to "squat" the bar the rest of the way to the floor.

Comparison: Sumo versus Conventional

Conventional Deadlift

  • Greater Range of Motion (ROM) at the Hip
    The hip is further away from the barbell and allows for more ROM and torque.
  • Larger Starting Angle at the Knee
    The hamstrings start more elongated in the closer stance.
  • Better for Hypertrophy and Bodybuilding
    The increased ROM and torque make it a great hamstring, glute, and back builder for size.

Sumo Deadlift

  • Lesser Range of Motion (ROM) at the Hip
    The hips are much closer to the bar, offering more support form the legs to support the low back.
  • Smaller Starting Angle at the Knee
    The knee is far more flexed in the starting position.
  • Better for Strength and Powerlifting
    This is not true for everyone. Most individuals will be able to lift more with sumo when they practice. Some individuals have better anatomical features for sumo pulling.