8 Massive Benefits Of Sumo Deadlift VS Conventional Pulling

The traditional deadlift is a hugely popular compound movement that activates all the muscles of your posterior chain.  

This includes your hamstrings, lower back and spinal erectors.  

But if you’re looking for a deadlift style that puts a bit less stress on your lower back muscles, then adopting a wide stance with your feet could make all the difference whilst still building muscle mass and strength.  

Recommended Reading – 5 Easy Hyperextension Roman Chair Exercises For Upper Body

When you place your feet beyond shoulder width apart to perform deadlift this is a known as the sumo stance.  

In this article we’re going to delve deep into all the great benefits of sumo deadlift.  

Sumo deadlift for posterior chain

The Sumo Deadlift VS The Standard Deadlift

When performing a sumo deadlift the lifter would assume a much wider stance with their feet when compared to a conventional deadlift.  

The knees are forced outwards and feet externally rotated, this keeps the torso and upper back in a more upright position with hips closer to the barbell.  

The sumo pull typically requires more hip extension.  

This means there’s a greater need for hip abduction and external rotation to initiate the lift.  

Sumo deadlift compound movement

This emphasizes the use of the hip adductors and abductors to a larger extent, and it’s necessary to engage your hips more to stand up with the weight. 

Both variations activate the posterior chain but should be viewed as unique exercises as they target different muscle groups.  

The sumo style deadlift places more emphasis on your adductors (the inner thigh muscles) and your glutes and is especially good for targeting your gluteus medius.   

The choice between the sumo and conventional deadlift could depend on your body mechanics, flexibility, personal preference, and specific training goals.

Wide stance sumo deadlift

You may find one variation more comfortable or effective depending on your overall strength and mobility.  

It’s quite common for powerlifters and weightlifters to train both variations to develop overall strength and improve upon any weaknesses.  

The sumo deadlift also tends to be more popular amongst female athletes and those who are shorter.  

8 Key Benefits Of Sumo Deadlift Movements

Now we know more about what sumo deadlifting is, let’s look at the benefits and if it’ll be a good addition to your training program.  

​Increased Glute Activation

The sumo deadlift variation is a great way of engaging your gluteal muscles, particularly the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius.  

The glute max is a primary hip extensor and plays a major role in the sumo deadlift.  

The wider stance and the need to push your hips forward during the lift necessitates strong activation of the glutes to initiate the movement and bring the hips to full extension.

Additionally, maintaining the wide stance throughout the lift and pushing the hips forward at the top of the lift further engages the glutes.

Strengthening your glutes helps with better hip stability and, as it’s a functional movement, can help to make everyday activities such as walking and climbing the stairs that much easier.   

Easier To Do

The sumo deadlift technique is usually easier to do when compared to conventional pulls.  

When your foot placement is wider, this means that the bar has less distance to travel before you lock out at the top.  

This shorter range of motion tends to make the sumo deadlift easier to execute.  

Easier On The Lower Back

Another benefit of sumo deadlifts is that they can be easier on your lower back compared to other deadlift variations.  

When your upper body is in a more upright position with a straight back this can put less stress on your lumbar spine helping to reduce the chance of injury and allow you to lift with proper form. 

​Improves Hip Mobility

Sumo deadlifts emphasize hip abduction and external rotation, leading to increased activation of the hip adductors, abductors, and glutes.

This can help in strengthening the hips and improving hip mobility.

Can Help To Improve Squat Form

Squatting is a very technical compound exercise that requires a ton of practice and strict form (especially when lifting heavier weight).  

It’s not uncommon to see the knees cave inwards or the feet pronate during the squat descent, this turns off the glutes and make the exercise more difficult to perform and increases the likelihood of injury.  

However, by regularly performing a sumo deadlift can strengthen the inner thigh muscles and encourage you to keep your knees out.  

This may help to correct any issues with squat form.  

You Can Lift More Weight

One of the primary benefits of sumo deadlifts is that they allow you to lift more weight than regular deadlifts.

This is because the wider stance and more upright torso position allow you to use your legs and hips more effectively, which are typically stronger than your back muscles. 

As a result, you can lift heavier weights and target your lower body muscles more effectively. 

Better Quad Engagement

The wider stance in the sumo deadlift means that your quadriceps have to work more to keep your knees aligned with your toes, especially during the initial phase of the lift.  

This increased quadriceps engagement can help if you want to strengthen and develop the quadriceps muscle group.

Improved Grip Strength

The sumo deadlift usually involves lifting heavier loads.  

By supporting and controlling the barbell’s weight challenges your grip strength significantly.  

You’ll also typically hold the bar for an extended period of time further intensifying the grip demand and promoting grip endurance.  

Depending on your preference you can use different grip styles (e.g., overhand, mixed grip) when performing the sumo deadlift, allowing you to work on different aspects of grip strength.


Is Sumo Deadlift Bad For Your Hips?

As long as perform a sumo deadlift with proper form, then the sumo deadlift is not bad for your hips.  

In fact, it can help to strengthen your hips and the surrounding muscles.  

Strong hip muscles better support your pelvis and spine which can lead to better posture helping with things such as lower back pain.  

It’s worth noting that it’s common for hip flexors to become tight, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting.  

So, if you’re new to the exercise and find it quite uncomfortable it may be a good idea to do some stretching and mobility work to loosen up the hip muscles.   

Powerlifting sumo stance

Is Sumo Deadlift For Your Back Or Legs?

The sumo deadlift is more of a leg and glute exercise as opposed to the back.  

This is different from the conventional deadlift which is usually performed on back day.  

There’s much less back activation when doing the sumo deadlift and as already mentioned, this is down to the different position of the feet which forces you to adopt a more upright position therefore reducing overall back muscle involvement.  

Is Sumo Deadlift Easier Than RDL?

The Romanian deadlift is very similar to the conventional deadlift in terms of foot placement.  

However, it’s primary differences are that you start at the top instead of pulling from the ground and you only lower the barbell as far as you can without your lower back rounding.  

This means that it has a smaller range of motion similar to that of the sumo deadlift.  

However, whether you find the sumo deadlift easier when compared to the Romanian deadlift depends on your biomechanics, mobility, muscle strength, and training experience. 

You may find the sumo deadlift easier due to the more upright torso and engagement of leg muscles, or you might prefer the Romanian deadlift because of its focus on the posterior chain and hip hinge movement.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the sumo deadlift is a highly effective strength training exercise that brings a range of valuable benefits to the table. 

With its distinct form and movement style, the sumo deadlift will engage several major muscle groups, making it a well-rounded addition to your fitness routine. 

The sumo deadlift not only promotes stability, balance, and mobility, crucial for injury prevention and athletic performance, but also offers a lower back-friendly approach due to its upright posture. 

The emphasis on leg and hip engagement contributes to muscle growth, improved metabolism, and enhanced functional fitness. 

Whether you’re new to the gym or a seasoned fitness enthusiast, the sumo deadlift is a powerful tool worth considering for achieving your fitness goals and overall well-being.

Incorporate this type of deadlift in to your strength training to take advantage of all the benefits.  

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