How to do a Sumo DeadLift

How to do a sumo deadlift

a step-by-step guide

Looking to change up your usual deadlift routine with a sumo deadlift variant? Follow our step-by-step guide to perfect your form and get to grips with this challenging workout.

What is a sumo deadlift?

A sumo deadlift is a deadlift variant that uses a wider stance and greater emphasis on the legs to lessen the strain on your lower back. It’s a handy exercise for lifters who want to avoid putting too much pressure on their back and hips, and for those want to lift more overall weight.


It’s not the easiest exercise to master, and getting is right is essential to seeing the benefits and avoiding injury. It’s important you know exactly what you’re doing before trying it for yourself.

How to do a sumo deadlift step-by-step

Follow these steps to get your sumo deadlift form right:

  1. Stand in a wide stance in front of the bar. The bar should be as close to your shins as possible. Feet should be slightly turned out.

  2. Take a moment to make sure your feet are firmly planted, feeling the tension as you activate your glutes, core, legs, and lower body.

  3. When you’re ready, bend at the hips until you can grab the bar at shoulder width, maintaining a neutral spine and placing your hands directly under your shoulders and hips.

  4. Make sure your core, back, legs, and glutes are tightly braced to create a feeling of full-body tension, and that your arms are vertical and not angled in or out. Slightly pull up at the bar (without lifting it) and imaging pressing your legs through the floor to help with this.

  5. Move into your down position by pushing your knees out and driving your hips forward into the bar.

  6. When ready, lift the barbell by simultaneously pulling the bar up and driving through your legs, pushing with your heels and straightening your knees to lift it to mid-thigh height.

  7. When you’re at the top of your lift with the bar at around mid-thigh height, lockout your position by extending your knees and hips, keeping your shoulders back, and maintaining your straight posture.

  8. When you’re ready to come down, keep your body braced and spine neutral as you slowly lower the bar to the floor. It should gently slide against your legs all the way down.

Do's and Don'ts

  • DO keep a neutral position, tilt your head back, and look straight ahead.

  • DON’T forget to brace.

Everybody has their own preferences when it comes to deadlift form, and you might find yours has slight variations to our own technique. But good form is essential to avoiding injury with your deadlift, and you should never proceed if you feel unsure or without getting advice from an experienced professional first.

Sumo deadlift tips

  • Squeezing your glutes can help with your lift as it helps drive your hips forward.

  • If you’re doing multiple reps, rest in your down position for a few seconds without bouncing (dropping) the bar and losing your tension.

  • Really focus on maintaining a neutral posture throughout your lift, with a straight spine, shoulders pulled back, and eyes trained straight ahead.

  • Your entire lift should be one smooth motion, with no pauses or breaks before you reach the top.

  • Maintain control when lowering the bar, as poor posture and form can just as easily result in injury here as they can on the lift.

Sumo deadlift benefits

Sumo deadlifts are a great alternative to standard deadlifts for people who want to lift more weight and put less pressure on their lower back.

The emphasis on using your legs to squat the weight up, and bringing your hips closer to the bar, takes the stress of your hips and back and places it on your legs instead. Decreased back stress also lets you lift more weight, and many people find that recovery is easier too.

Want to learn more?

The sumo deadlift is a challenging exercise and getting your technique right is essential to avoiding injuring and seeing the benefits. If you need guidance, get in touch with one of our friendly personal trainers at your local Gym to help you perfect your routine and smash your fitness goals.

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