What Is Sumo Deadlift? Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes

Learn how to do sumo deadlifts. (Image via unsplash/Alora Griffiths)
Learn how to do sumo deadlifts. (Image via unsplash/Alora Griffiths)

Every time you walk into a gym, you'll probably see people performing five different types of deadlifts. In a world where exercises have minuscule differences and yet have vastly different effects on the body, it's difficult not to get confused.

An exercise born out of the need to deadlift while engaging the quads is the sumo deadlift. Sumo deadlifts have racked up a rather notorious reputation in the gym community. Much like any other popular exercise, the sumo deadlift is incredibly controversial.

It's essentially a variation of the deadlift that employs a wider stance, much like a sumo wrestler. While some claim it's the best exercise they've ever done, others don't share the same sentiment.

Some even believe it to be cheating and have called for this exercise to be banned across major powerlifting competitions. In this article, we'll examine what exactly the sumo deadlift is, what it does and how you can do it to improve your deadlift.

How To Perform A Sumo Deadlift?


Sumo deadlifts may seem easy on paper owing to their smaller range of motion, but they can be incredibly challenging to perform, especially if you suffer from weak hip mobility.

There are several tips you can use to boost your sumo deadlift:

Chest Out: Pushing your chest out helps to intensify your back arch, while keeping your hips stable, preventing your lower back from getting damaged. When the hip rises first, it puts all the load on the back, making it far from optimal to perform a sumo deadlift. Use the hips as hinges, and push inward, using your lower body and back to pull the weight up.

Drill Into The Ground: A common visualisation technique used by lifters for both squats and deadlifts is to imagine drilling your legs into the ground while pushing it away simultaneously. When you create opposite forces, i.e., pulling the weight and pushing the ground, it helps you generate more force via your lower body, which in turn makes your deadlift easier.

Remember to tighten your quads, and feel the lift in your legs too, not just your back. Drilling your legs into the ground will also keep your hips from rising up before the lift, as the force will project your hips downwards not upwards, while the pulling motion will make sure your hips maintain their position.


Sumo deadlifts can be difficult to perform, especially for those who are new to lifting. However, if you put in some work to nail the form, they may not feel so intimidating. To perform a sumo deadlift, follow these steps:

  1. Set up a loaded barbell in front of you, and stretch your legs out like a sumo wrestler, with your toes pointing outward. Make sure your arms can fit in the space between your knees.
  2. Tighten your core, and breathe in. Use your hips as hinges, pushing them down and inward towards the bar.
  3. Point your legs outward so that your quads, hamstrings and glutes can all be engaged.
  4. With a neutral grip, grab the bar. Your arms should be no further than shoulder distance. Retract your shoulder blades, and engage all your muscles.
  5. Drive your legs into the ground, and lock them, pulling the bar as much as you can without lifting it off the ground.
  6. While squeezing all your muscles, pull the bar up till you achieve full lockout. While in control of the weight, bring it down slowly, and reset on the floor.
  7. Repeat for as many reps as you can.

Correct Form

Sumo deadlifts are admittedly difficult to master than conventional deadlifts but aren't impossible to learn.

Work on your hip movement, and ensure that it isn't jutting out as you lift, as that would not only ruin your lift but also damage your lower back and spine. Make sure your reps are slow and controlled; do not slam the weight into the ground.


Sumo deadlifts are great in targeting your lower back and legs. They can improve hip flexibility and joint movement, and also build muscle in your glutes, hamstrings, and quads, strengthening your lower back.

This exercise targets your entire posterior chain and is great for ones who don't enjoy the strenuous nature of conventional deadlifts. It can also be used to improve your squat and conventional deadlift, as it trains all the parts needed for those exercises.

Common Mistakes

A common mistake that most newcomers make is their hip position. That can make or break your lift (and your spine), so make sure you're aware of where your hip is while lifting, and how it feels after you're done with your lift.

Make sure to maintain your back arch, and not let your back hyper-extend, as that can lead to severe injury.


Sumo deadlifts are a great exercise to incorporate into your training regime. No, they're not illegal or cheating, nor are they easier to perform or give you an unfair advantage. They're simply different, and most people hate different concepts.

Sumo deadlifts train your quads and hamstrings and are less taxing on your back, while the opposite is the case with conventional deadlifts. If you're smart, you'll find a way to incorporate both into your routine, rather than picking one and sticking to it.

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Edited by Bhargav