Unlock the Power of Sumo Deadlifts: Muscles Engaged

Sumo deadlifts are a strength training exercise that targets your posterior chain muscles. It’s an excellent way to increase your strength and power, but before we get into the muscle groups worked, let’s first understand what sumo deadlifts are.

What are Sumo Deadlifts?

The sumo deadlift is a variation of the traditional deadlift, where the feet are positioned wider than shoulder-width apart and the hands grip the bar inside the legs. The stance used in the sumo deadlift is similar to the position used by sumo wrestlers, hence the name. Sumo deadlift is considered as a technical exercise which requires proper form when performing it.

Muscles Engaged in Sumo Deadlifts

Sumo deadlifts are a compound exercise, targeting multiple muscle groups in the body. Here are the muscles worked:

1. Glutes

The sumo deadlift is an excellent exercise for targeting the glutes. The wide stance emphasizes the glute muscles, particularly the gluteus maximus. When performing the lift, make sure you fully extend your hips to get the most out of this muscle group.

2. Hamstrings

Along with the glutes, the hamstrings are also heavily targeted in the sumo deadlift. As you lift the barbell off the ground, your hamstrings work to extend your hips, and as you lower it down, they work eccentrically to control the descent of the weight.

3. Quadriceps

The quadriceps muscles in the front of your thighs work together with your glutes and hamstrings to drive the weight up during a sumo deadlift. They help you to initiate the movement and provide stability throughout.

4. Lower Back

The muscles of the lower back, including the spinal erectors and multifidus, play a significant role in the sumo deadlift. These muscles work to keep your spine in a neutral position as you lift the weight off of the ground.

5. Inner Thighs

One of the key differences between the sumo deadlift and conventional deadlift is the position of your feet. The sumo stance makes use of the adductor muscles in the inner thigh to pull the legs inward towards the midline, increasing stability and generating power.

6. Traps and Upper Back

The sumo deadlift also engages the muscles of the upper back, including the traps, rhomboids, and rear deltoids. These muscles work to stabilize the shoulder blades and maintain proper posture throughout the lift.

The Benefits of Sumo Deadlifts

In addition to working multiple muscle groups in the body, sumo deadlifts offer several benefits:

  • Improved Posture
  • Increased Strength
  • Increased Power
  • Improved Grip Strength
  • Reduced Risk of Injury

1. Improved Posture

The sumo deadlift can help improve your posture because it strengthens the muscles of the upper and lower back that help support your spine.

2. Increased Strength

Sumo deadlifts are an excellent exercise for gaining strength, particularly in the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

3. Increased Power

The sumo deadlift is a great exercise for developing power as it requires a lot of explosive strength to lift the weight quickly off the ground.

4. Improved Grip Strength

Because sumo deadlifts require a wider grip than conventional deadlifts, they can help to increase your grip strength over time.

5. Reduced Risk of Injury

Sumo deadlifts are considered a safer option than conventional deadlifts because the wide stance allows for a more upright back position, reducing the strain on the lower back.

How to Properly Perform Sumo Deadlifts

Now that we know what muscles sumo deadlifts work and the benefits, let’s dive into how to perform sumo deadlifts correctly:

  1. Start by standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and the barbell on the ground in front of you.
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip and place your hands slightly inside your legs.
  3. Get into a squat position, keeping your back flat and your chest up.
  4. Drive your hips forward and stand up straight, lifting the bar off the ground until you are in a complete standing position.
  5. Lower the bar back down to the ground in a controlled manner, keeping your back flat and your chest up.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Sumo Deadlift Variations

There are several variations of the sumo deadlift, each with its own unique muscle-targeting and benefits. Here are some of the variations:

1. Deficit Sumo Deadlifts

Deficit sumo deadlifts are performed by standing on a platform or block that raises your feet off the ground, increasing the range of motion of the lift. This variation targets the hamstrings and glutes more than the conventional sumo deadlift.

2. Pause Sumo Deadlifts

Pause sumo deadlifts involve pausing for a moment at the bottom of the lift before lifting the weight back up. This variation increases the time under tension in your muscles, making it an effective way to build strength and muscle.

3. Romanian Sumo Deadlifts

Romanian sumo deadlifts, also known as stiff-legged sumo deadlifts, involve keeping your legs straight throughout the lift. This variation places more emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes, making it a great exercise for building strength and improving mobility in these areas.

4. Sumo Deadlift High Pull

The sumo deadlift high pull is a variation that combines the sumo deadlift with a barbell row. It targets the upper body muscles, including the traps, deltoids, and rhomboids, as well as the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

As with any strength training exercise, proper form is critical to avoid injuries and get the most out of the exercise. Here are some common mistakes you should avoid when performing sumo deadlifts:

  • Rounding your lower back
  • Locking out your knees too soon
  • Bending your arms too much
  • Lifting with your upper back instead of your legs


Sumo deadlifts are an excellent exercise for targeting multiple muscle groups in the body, including the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, lower back, inner thighs, traps, and upper back. By performing sumo deadlifts correctly, you can improve your posture, gain strength and power, increase your grip strength, and reduce your risk of injury. Don’t forget to practice proper form and try out different variations to keep your workouts challenging.


1. “Sumo Deadlift – Everything You Need To Know.” Bodybuilding.com, https://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/sumo-deadlift. Accessed 16 Aug. 2021.

2. Contreras, Bret. “The Top 10 Benefits of Sumo Deadlifting.” T Nation, https://www.t-nation.com/training/top-10-benefits-of-sumo-deadlifting. Accessed 16 Aug. 2021.


1. What muscles do sumo deadlifts work?

The sumo deadlift works multiple muscle groups in the body, including the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, lower back, inner thighs, traps, and upper back.

2. Are sumo deadlifts better than conventional deadlifts?

Sumo deadlifts and conventional deadlifts both have their unique benefits and targets different muscle groups. It is best to include both in your training to get the most out of your workout.

3. Can sumo deadlifts be dangerous?

Sumo deadlifts can be dangerous if performed with incorrect form. Make sure to practice proper form and start with light weights before progressing to heavier weights. If you have any previous injuries or medical conditions, consult a healthcare professional before performing the lift.

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