Master the Sumo Deadlift

The Sumo deadlift is a heavy compound move that should be performed early in your workout. Here's how to do it.

The Start

STEP 1: Stand over a loaded barbell resting on the floor with your shins touching the bar. STEP 2: Your feet should be much wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed outward. STEP 3: Squat down to grab the bar using a staggered grip (one hand overhand, the other underhand) with your hands spaced inside shoulder width.

STEP 4: Your torso should be bent about 45 degrees over the bar with your arms tense and pulling on the bar; your thighs will be slightly higher than parallel with the floor. 

STEP 5: Keep your head up and neutrally aligned.


STEP 1: With your arms straight, keep your abs pulled in tight, and tense your entire body as you drive through your heels to straighten your knees and bring your hips forward until you’re in a standing position.

STEP 2: Once standing, bring your shoulders back slightly and pause. 

STEP 3: Lower the barbell along the same path (close to your body all the way down) to the floor. 

STEP 4: Touch the plates to the floor, allowing the bar to settle, then begin the next rep.

In Your Routine

The sumo deadlift is a very heavy, compound move that should be performed early in your workout. Because the sumo targets the quads, inner hamstrings, and upper traps, you can follow the sumo with leg presses, leg curls and other back exercises depending on where you choose to place it in your weekly routine. Perform 3–4 exercises of 6–10 reps.

Best Alternatives

Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift For a different feel, try the dumbbell version using the same form as you would with the barbell. You need only one dumbbell, holding it with both hands, cup the inside of the dumbbell. For a greater range of motion (ROM), try holding the dumbbell from the handle like you would grip a baseball bat (be sure to alternate which hand is above the other to avoid muscular imbalances). 

Wide-Stance Squat to the inexperienced, or any kind of deadlift, is a back exercise. However, the fact is, the deadlift is as much a leg exercise as anything else. The extreme wide stance of the sumo forces the legs to actually bend further, demanding more from the quads to straighten. The wide-stance squat mimics the inner hams and quads activity of the sumo squat. Be sure to keep your torso erect as much as possible.