Sumo Deadlift- Is It Better than The Traditional Deadlift?

Sumo deadlift is one of the most common variants of deadlift that is approved in powerlifting and can substitute the traditional deadlift. In this article, you’ll learn how to do it correctly, the muscles that are worked, how to avoid common mistakes, and which deadlift style works best for each case.

The sumo deadlift style is a more advanced technical variation that differs from the conventional deadlift in which the legs are further apart. For the sumo exercises, you have to stand in front of the bar, ensuring that your feet are separated greater than the width of your shoulders. The balls of your feet should point outwards at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. The bar should be close to your legs and your shoulders slightly in front of it.

Likewise, it is more demanding on the quads. As the legs are further apart, it is not necessary to make so much effort with the back, which is why it is more recommended for people who have or have had lumbar issues.


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Kettlebell sumo squat


Sumo or conventional, which is better?

Here we have to distinguish between two types of people: those who do this exercise looking to lift as much weight as possible because their goal is to compete or they are simply passionate about strength and those who perform these exercises merely for aesthetic and health purposes. The former seeks maximum efficiency to lift the maximum weight possible, while the latter seeks comfort and safety when doing sumo deadlift.


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Conventional deadlift


If your objective is merely aesthetic and you are not looking to compete, simply opt for the option you feel most comfortable and safest. Dumbbell sumo deadlift is an option here.

On the other hand, if your goal is to lift the greatest amount of weight, your decision will basically depend on your arms’ length. In the case of having short arms, the sumo deadlift shows greater efficiency, yet the conventional deadlift seems superior in all other aspects.

Sumo deadlift has variants, such as sumo deadlift dumbbell and barbell sumo deadlift.


Sumo deadlift technique

Now that we know the variants, let’s see how to perform these exercises.

To kick off, make sure that the sumo and conventional deadlift uses Olympic weights. You must also consider the fact that the bar must be at an appropriate height, otherwise, the bar may stay very close to the ground, leaving you in a bad position. You may not need Olympic kettlebells for kettlebell sumo deadlift, although Olympic weights are always best.


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The first step is to stand in front of the bar with your feet more than shoulder-width apart and your toes facing out at an angle close to 45º. The bar should be close to your legs and the shoulders slightly in front of the bar. Start with an overhand grip, although there are other valid options.

When doing sumo deadlift high pull, activate the abs seeking to compact your body and keep your hips neutral throughout the movement. In this way, you will avoid injuries. In addition, push the ground with your legs and do not lift the bar from the ground so much. Once the bar exceeds the knees, put the hips towards the bar to finish the movement completely upright.


Muscles that are involved

The kettlebell sumo deadlift and the other sumo deadlift variants work for most muscle groups. The workout is mainly focused on the entire back of the legs, the hip, lumbar, knee extensors, and quadriceps.


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The abs, trapezius, dorsal, and even arm muscles, such as the biceps and forearms among others are also involved. In short, you will train the whole body practically.


Common Mistakes in Sumo deadlift

These are common mistakes when doing sumo deadlift sumo high pull or any other:

Arching your back at the beginning

It is a very common mistake to arch your back at the beginning of the movement and then continue with that curvature throughout it. You can avoid this by keeping your shoulders back, pushing the ground, and not lifting the bar.


Pulling with your arms to reach the final position

You must bear in mind that in this exercise, the arms act only as a hook to maintain the weight, but at no time, you shouldn’t contract the biceps to raise the bar. This is very common, especially at the end of the movement. It is also dangerous, as it can lead to bicep rupture.


Final thoughts

In the sumo deadlift, there is greater activation of the tibialis anterior, the vastus lateralis, and the vastus medialis of the quadriceps, while in the conventional deadlift, gastrocnemius medialis is better worked.

As a result, the sumo deadlift aims to activate the knee extensors. In view of this, exercises like the barbell sumo deadlift should be considered in knee rehabilitation and readaptation programs.

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