How To Sumo Deadlift The Right Way + 3 Common Mistakes To Avoid

sumo deadlift

Deadlifts are a staple in weight training, but there are some variations that can bring your exercise routine to another level. During your sessions in the gym, you might’ve seen someone widen their legs instead of keeping them hip-wide, like a regular deadlift. Don’t worry — it’s not bad form, it’s a variation called the sumo deadlift. In fact, it’s considered one of the most highly effective variations of deadlifts.

The experts at Iron Bodies and Minds have gathered our knowledge of sumo deadlifts so you can try them yourself. We’ll talk about the correct form, the benefits, and common mistakes that you should avoid to stay healthy and get the most out of your workout.

The Benefits of Sumo Deadlifts

A dumbbell sumo deadlift is different from a regular deadlift because of the wider stance. However, while it’s a small distinction, it makes all the difference.

Reduces Stress on the Lower Back

Typical deadlifts put a lot of stress on your back, especially the lumbar spine. That’s because your arms and torso are farther from the center of gravity when lifting.

Thanks to the wider stance of a sumo deadlift, these body parts are much closer to the ground while lifting, so you can keep your back straight during the lift. Most of the pressure is instead placed on your legs, glutes, and quads.

Targets the Quads and Glutes More Accurately

As mentioned, the sumo deadlift stance is better at targeting the quads and glutes. The position is almost like a squat or a lunge, so it makes sense that the motion isolates these muscle groups better than your regular deadlifts. The external rotation of the lift also places more strain on the glutes, resulting in faster gains than other variations.

Supports Different Some Body Types

Not everyone can do conventional deadlifts. Some people have back injuries and others have skeletal structures that make them more prone to straining — tall people, most of all. However, thanks to the sumo deadlift’s lower range of motion, these people can still enjoy the benefits of regular deadlifts without the associated dangers. The fact that the lower body is the main source of strength also helps.

Improves Lock Out Strength

For deadlift beginners, “lock out” is the final stage of the lift, when your limbs or joints are fully extended. Thanks to the stance used in a sumo deadlift, you can add more weight without increasing strain. This improves your lock out strength, especially when you transition back to conventional deadlifts. You’ll find that it’s easier to complete the top part of the lift easily and correctly.

The Correct Way to Perform a Sumo Deadlift

Everything, from your hand grip to your foot angle, will affect your barbell or dumbbell sumo deadlift. Always be mindful of your form to avoid injuries and maximize gains. Here’s a step-by-step guide to performing an accurate, effective, and safe sumo deadlift:

The Set-Up

First things first: creating the right setup for your sumo deadlift. Get into the widest squat position you can while still remaining comfortable. Angle your feet at around 30 – 45 degrees. It doesn’t have to be a deep squat, though; just low enough that your shins are parallel to the floor. Then, use an overhand or mixed grip to hold the dumbbell bar and keep your chest up and your back straight. It might feel awkward to deadlift this way, but you’ll get used to it.

The Brace Before Lifting

Now that you’ve got the right setup, be ready to put your whole body in tension. Your core, butt, legs, and back should be tightened at this stage. To engage your quads, try lifting the bar and pressing your legs to the floor. Take a full breath in the belly before you start the lift.

The Lift

Once you’ve stabilized your quads and core, it’s time to lift the dumbbell. Push down with your legs to break the weight from the ground, and don’t let your chest down. Don’t use your pelvis to lift at this stage — let your quads do the hard work.

The Lock Out

Continue lifting the dumbbell, keeping it in a vertical path. Once it passes your knees, thrust your hips forward and complete the lock out. Keep the handle as close to your shin as possible, and don’t let your shoulders shrug. Your back should also remain tight at this stage. Depending on your goals, you can do two to five reps with two to six sets.

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid During A Sumo Deadlift 

The form for sumo deadlifts is distinct from traditional deadlifts, and there isn’t much room for variation with them. This, in combination with the increased demand for hip flexibility, means that beginners and those who are transitioning from conventional deadlifts are prone to mistakes. We’ll outline the most common mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Incorrect Set-Up

As we mentioned above, proper setup is a vital part of the lift. This dictates the rest of your reps, so make sure that you’re properly in position. Pay attention to your foot angle, your hand grip, and the position of your squat. Most of all, don’t rush to get as many lifts as you can — instead, take the time to understand how your bones and muscles work together to safely and effectively lift the weight.

No Warm-Ups

Hip flexibility is extremely important in a sumo deadlift, so make sure that you’re actually able to position them properly during the pull. That means that you need to do warm-ups, especially stretches, to make your thighs and joints limber. You’ll also want to activate your glutes and hamstrings to avoid shocking them during the lift.

Drifting Dumbbell or Barbell

One cardinal rule in sumo deadlifts is that you must keep the weight as close to you as possible. You don’t want it drifting away from your shins, because that will transfer the lever back to your spine. Instead, try to keep the dumbbell or barbell in a vertical path. The handle should be grazing your shins all the way to the lock out.

Work With a Personal Trainer in Sacramento

Are you just beginning your fitness journey? Do you just need more guidance for your sumo deadlifts? If you’re looking for a personal trainer Sacramento, California, then Iron Bodies and Minds is the place to go!

We train athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and regular individuals who want to improve their bodies and overall health. With our guidance, you’ll be well on your way to performing perfect sumo deadlifts in no time.

Give us a call to learn more!