What Muscles Do Sumo Deadlifts Work?

Deadlifts are one of the most favored workouts when building muscle, there are two reasons that deadlifts are so popular. 

What Muscles do Sumo Deadlifts Work

The first reason is that it trains multiple muscles over different muscle groups, making it very efficient due to it only being one workout.

The second reason that deadlifts are so popular among the weightlifting community is that they come with many variations that can focus on different muscles in different muscle groups. 

One of these variations is the sumo deadlift, a popular variation among bodybuilders as it allows you to lift more weight than a traditional deadlift and focuses mainly on the legs.

The sumo deadlift is given its name because of the stance you take when you are performing one, you use a wider stance than you would with a traditional deadlift, much like a sumo wrestler's stance right before they fight.

This article will explain how to properly and effectively perform a sumo deadlift and explain the muscles that are at work when you perform one. 

What Is A Sumo Deadlift?

A sumo deadlift is similar to a traditional deadlift, except the stance of a sumo deadlift is wider than that of a traditional deadlift.

In a traditional deadlift, you will take a narrow stance with the hands lifting the barbell on either side of the legs, however, in a sumo deadlift, the stance is wider so that the arms are lifting the barbell on the inside of the thighs.

How To Perform A Sumo Deadlift

You begin a sumo deadlift by taking a wide stance and having your toes pointed slightly out. 

The legs should be so wide that when you reach down, your elbows should be inside your knees, your butt should also be positioned back and your knees flexed.

This will vary from person to person, but your stance should almost be as wide as the space in between each weight on the barbell, this is of course depending on the barbell you use.

When you are in this position, make sure your feet are firmly planted on the ground, your back is as straight as it can be, and your spine is in a neutral position. 

How to Perform A Sumo Deadlift

Prepare to lift the barbell by tightening your legs, back, core, and butt.

Lift the bar slightly so that there is no slack in your arms, the weight should not leave the floor when you do this, this is just a preparation so you get the correct form.

Then you must drive your feet into the ground and pull up the bar in front of you. Do this by bringing your butt forward and extending your knee.

The bar should come up to just below your hips. Throughout the lift, your back should remain as flat as possible and your spine should be neutral.

Then push your butt back slowly and flex your knees to carefully drop the barbell back down to the ground. 

What Muscles Does A Sumo Deadlift Work?

Deadlifts usually work three different muscle groups, the back, the legs, and the core.

Although some people do not class the core as a muscle group, due to it not needing to be trained in isolation.

The core will however need to tighten when lifting the barbell to stabilize your body and therefore will be trained in the deadlift.

The deadlift will focus on different muscles within these muscle groups and the sumo deadlift will take that focus even further.

The Legs

The legs are the biggest muscle group in the body and are divided into two portions.

The upper portion of the legs contains the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, and the lower portion of the legs is made up of the claves. 

The calves have two muscles which are the soleus and the gastrocnemius.

Deadlifts will only work muscles in the upper portion of the legs so you don’t have to worry about the lower portion when deadlifting.

The quadriceps are the muscles that form the front of your thigh, as the name suggests there are four muscles that make up the quadriceps. The quadriceps are used to extend the knee.

The hamstrings are a group of muscles that are situated on the back of the legs and do the opposite to the quadriceps, they are used to flex the knees.

The sumo deadlift will work all of the upper portions of the leg.

The stance that the sumo deadlift takes means that you have to use your legs much more than you would in a traditional deadlift because you are mostly using your legs to lift instead of the back.

This exercise is great for focusing on the glutes also, which are the biggest muscles in the body and are crucial in stabilizing the body during workouts. As the feet are wider, the hip is placed into an external rotation. This involves the glutes more and makes them work harder. Sumo deadlifts, paired with the best glute machines for your home gym, will definitely help you achieve the best results possible. 

The Back

Your back is made up of four muscles, the latissimus dorsi (lats), the rhomboids, the trapezius, and the erector spinae.

The lats are the biggest muscles of the back and connect your spine to your upper arm in almost a wing-like shape.

The rhomboids are smaller than the lat and sit on top of them, connecting your spine to your shoulder blades.

The traps are the muscles that sit next to your neck and connect the upper spine to the shoulder blades on top of the rhomboids, and the erector spinae is your lower back muscle that runs parallel to your spine.

The back plays a big part in any form of the deadlift. In the traditional deadlift and all of its variations, your back has to tighten massively to be able to stabilize your body and lift the barbell.

With the sumo deadlift, the upper back muscles work just as hard, the entire weight of the barbell is being hung from your traps, so the tightening of the traps is crucial to lifting the weight.

Along with the traps, the rhomboids and the lats will also have to tighten and aid the lifting of the barbell.

In a traditional deadlift, the erector spinae will have to work just as hard as the other back muscles when tightening and lifting, however, in a sumo deadlift, the erector spinae is stressed less as you are mostly using your legs to lift.

This is perfect for people who have issues with their lower back. 

Final Thoughts

The sumo deadlift is a fantastic variation of the deadlift if you want to focus on the legs a little more.

Because of the stance you are taking and the focus on the biggest muscle in the body (the glutes), you are also able to lift more weight than you would with any other variation of the deadlift.

Sumo deadlifts are definitely one to try for anyone who wants to work out multiple muscle groups with one heavy-lifting workout.

If you are looking for other exercises that will you the same benefits or target the same muscle groups, check out this article on the highly effective deadlift alternatives and find the best exercise for you. 

Kevin Harris