Sumo Deadlift Front View

How To Do A Sumo Barbell Deadlift (Front View)
By Alli McKeeFebruary 19, 2016

Video Transcription: 

Now I am going to demonstrate the sumo barbell deadlift. The sumo deadlift works really well for people that are a little bit taller, whose femurs are a little bit longer, or people who struggle to keep a neutral spine when they get all the way down to the bar in a conventional stance. The sumo stance is going to obviously vary between individuals in terms of how wide they like to stand - I generally sumo deadlift a little bit wider. When I am putting my foot under the bar I am going to think about actually putting my entire foot under the bar so that my shin is right up against the barbell. Do that on both sides, making sure that my legs are nice and even. Just like with all the other deadlift variations, I am going to set my core before I hinge back. I am going to breathe in through my nose, blow out through my mouth, set my rib cage and then I am going to breathe in again. Same thing on my way back up.  

After I’ve set my core, I am going to hinge at the hip, keeping my knees soft.  Whenever I kind of run out of room and I feel my hamstrings catch, I am going to bend my knees a little bit more to get the bar. At that point my hips should be about half way between my knees and shoulders although that is going to vary a little bit depending on what feels comfortable for you. If your hips are a little bit too high you are almost going to Romanian deadlift off the ground and you are going to using mostly your lower back, you are going to lose the quads and glutes and hamstrings.  And if you are too low then you are almost squatting it off the ground and you are not effectively using your glutes and hamstrings like you could. Once I get down to the bar and grab it, it is going to be just like all the other deadlifts. I am going to get nice and tight with my lats, so think about protecting my armpits (like someone is going to tickle me). I am going to think about pulling the weights back and dragging them right up my legs. I am going to finish with my glutes and not with my lower back. Then I am going to set the weight back down exactly the same way I picked it up.

So I am going to get set up, and when it comes to how far your toes are turned out that is going to be a pretty individual thing too. I find that somewhere in between 15 and 30 or 40 degrees is good for most people. So get right up on the bar, set my core, breathe in again, push back into my hips, grab the bar, get nice and tight, stand up with it. That's a sumo deadlift.


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About the author:  Alli McKee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at

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