T Nation

Sumo Deadlifts

Being a newcomer to resistance training, I hope I am posting this in the correct area. If not, my apologies.

Could someone briefly describe the proper format for a sumo deadlift? I have never heard of this routine until recently, and I am not familiar with the proper form, etc. However, it is included as a mandatory exercise in a new routing I have obtained.



The only time I’ve seen the sumo deadlift (it’s a movement, BTW, not a routine) as required is for morphological reasons. For people with long legs, doing a conventional deadlift can be a risk to the back (having to lean too far forward to get the bar past the knees). The sumo deadlift can take care of this problem for a lot of people.

Basically, you take a wider stance and grip the bar with your arms inside your knees.

A variation of this is a T-bar deadlift. Much like the sumo in form, but for some people, even sumo won’t solve the long-legs problem.

The sumo deadlift is a good way to change up your hip dominant leg day. As Brider pointed out, many people do them because they are easier than conventional deads if you have certain body types. However, I think that regardless of your body type, sumo deads, and many other types, can be successfully added to your program. If you read this magazine a lot, you should be able to think of about 15 different squat and deadlift variations in about 15 seconds. Keep gong back to your favorite/strongest technique in these lifts to check your progress and keep the loading heavy when needed. But, don’t be afraid to check your ego and lighten the load enough to do some of the other squat/dead variations as supplemental lifts. Now that I’m through with that, back to your question. The biggest mistake I see people make when they do sumo deads is that the hands are often too close together. Keep your hands shoulder width apart, and no closer as you can see in the seconds picture of Dave Tate’s “Dead Zone” article in the back issues section.

Check out the “Booty Call” article for pictures and a blurb on how to do it.

Thanks for the help guys, I am much obliged.

The pictures w/format info helped a bunch. I tried the sumo deadlifts today for the first time, and it felt great afterword!


JR, how did they match up to your regular deads in terms of weight etc.? Did they feel comfortable? They take a little getting used to. I find that balancing the bar is much more dificult with the closer hand spacing, so you really have to have your form down.

The sumo deads did take some getting used to! However, since I am 6’2" I found them to be more comfortable than a regular deadlift. Since I started OVT training this week, it is different from my usual routine so hard to compare total weight since I am used to 3-4 sets of regular deadlifts with 8-12 reps.

However, my maximum 5-REP set of sumo deads was 195LBS - not to bad for a relative beginner. I used 25 LB plates as opposed to 45 LB plates, which is supposed to allow a better lift since the weight has to be lowered a few more inches closer to the floor.

Take Care,


JR, sounds like you’re coming along. I find they really blast the quads and glutes more than regular deads (as they should), but I also find my lower back has a tendency to get strained more doing these. I’m a tall bastard, myself. Smaller plates, a platform, these can all be very helpful to guys like us, but just determination and attention to detail can help a lot, too.