How To Sumo Deadlift Properly: The Complete Guide

How To Sumo Deadlift

The Complete Guide on how to sumo deadlift properly for beginners and advanced lifters. Learn proper powerlifting form and technique to get a stronger back, glutes, and legs.

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Page Contents:

The Deadlift

The Deadlift is one of the most brutal and beneficial lifts there is. It is brutal because you have to lift a heavy weight from a dead stop, starting in a disadvantaged position, but it is so beneficial because it improves ALL of your other lifts

The Deadlift builds muscle mass throughout your entire body and tests your full body strength like nothing else can. Nothing can improve your hip, core, back, and grip strength as much as deadlifts. And nothing can replace it.

If you have a strong deadlift, then you probably have a brutally strong body from head to toe!

It is such a simple lift, yet so hard that very few people actually do them. Not to mention that many gyms don’t allow deadlifts, or have terrible set-ups for them. If that is your gym, then I highly recommend you go somewhere else that actually promotes strength and doesn’t hold you back from reaching your goals.

Overall, the deadlift tests you physically and mentally with its brutality but can make you feel superhuman.

No ordinary person has every deadlifted 500+ pounds. It takes hard work, dedication and an internal fire to reach that achievement, and every pound after. If you have it in you, then you have the strength to do anything you desire.

It is you versus the weight in front of you. A weight that can take you from ordinary to extraordinary. All you have to do is pick it up.

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Conventional vs. Sumo Deadlift

The Sumo Deadlift is a variation that emphasizes more on the use of your legs to squat the weight up rather than your hips and back.

With this style, your hips are closer to the bar compared to a conventional deadlift with a more vertical torso, which takes the stress off of your lower back and places it on your legs. 

This decreased back stress allows sumo dead lifters to typically handle more overall work with deadlifts, as recovery will be easier.

Another advantage is the decreased range of motion, and therefore total work is done, compared to conventional deadlifts, but the start of the lift will be more difficult.

To become proficient at sumo deadlift, positioning and technique are key. If you cannot get into the proper positioning by externally rotating your hips enough, then sumo deadlift is not for you.

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how to deadlift 600 lbs book Get our “How To Deadlift” Guide!

Everything you need to know about the Sumo Deadlift!

Includes a 12 Week Deadlift Program, Workouts, common Deadlift mistakes and how to fix them! Plus, so much more in this nearly 100-page master guide!

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Proper Sumo Deadlift Form

Click here for Conventional Deadlift!

Side view at the bottom of the page.



  • Teach Hip Hinge Mechanics,
  • Test and Build Full Body, Hip Hinge, and Core Stabilization Strength.

Prime Movers:

  1. Quadriceps (Legs)
  2. Hamstring Complex (Legs),
  3. Glutes (Hips),


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The Set-Up

Your deadlift set-up is all about creating tension in the right places without wasting energy. You need to maintain that same tightness during the entire lift. If you lose tightness, then you lose strength.

Set Your Feet

Set your feet close enough so that your shins are nearly touching the bar outside of where your hands will be placed, and turn them out as much as you need to get your knees behind the bar when you squat down (10-45 degrees).

Find the best position for you, and if you have hip mobility problems you should try to improve them before every training session. You can do this with my How To Warm-Up Guide.

Grab The Ground

Suction cup your feet to the ground by spreading your toes as wide as you can, then grasping the floor with your entire foot. Your entire foot (heel, the ball of your foot, and outer edge) should stay locked into the ground.

Then, while clenching your toes into the ground like eagle claws, create torque by externally rotate your feet, as if they were to spin in place. Do this throughout the entire deadlift.

This movement should flex your entire lower body from your glutes down through your entire legs so that everything is tight, and nothing is loose or relaxed.

Maintain this external rotation torque throughout the deadlift.

Note: By grabbing the ground with your foot you are simply creating a strong arch in your foot, not rolling your ankle. Your feet should not move out of place or come up at all during these motions. Just create a rotational pressure to stabilize your joints, while your entire foot is locked into the ground.

Brace Your Core

Suck in as much air as you can and hold it in, attempting to create as much intra-abdominal pressure as you can, to stabilize your spine. Then press your lips closed to hold the air in while flexing all of the musculature surrounding your entire torso, and forcing the air deep down into your abdomen. This is known as the Valsalva Maneuver.

If you are wearing a lifting belt, then brace out against the belt as you do this.

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Bend At The Hips

While staying tight and maintaining a neutral spine, bend mainly at the hips until you can grab the bar.

Grab The Bar

Place your hands directly under your shoulders and hips, so that your arms are vertical, not angled in or out.

After finding your preferred width, evenly set according to the power rings, spread your fingers as wide as you can as if to engulf as much of the bar in your hand as possible.

Then grasp the bar tightly with your thumbs wrapped, trying to crush the bar in your hands to take control of the weight.

This is your control point, SO TAKE CONTROL!!! Make the weight feel small while you become invincible with your crushing grip!

Then create an external rotation torque by pointing your elbows behind you.

Note: Use a double overhand-grip as often as you can, and only switch to over-under or hook grip when the weight gets too heavy to hold otherwise.


While keeping your entire body tight, again suck in as much air as you can and press it down deep into your abdomen increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. Hold this tightness throughout the lift.

Get Set

Fully extend your knees to reset the tension to your hips, and then push your knees out hard as you drive your hips forward into the bar. Your hips should be down and knees behind the bar.

Use the bar as leverage to maintain balance as you get into position and keep a constant external rotation torque in your feet.

While keeping a neutral spine, force your head back, with your eyes straight ahead. Imagine pulling your chin straight back, and never tilt your head up.

Maintain a neutral head position (straight spine) throughout the entire lift with eyes straight ahead.

Create Tension

Pull the bar back into your legs as your position your hips back and down, chest high and back flat. This is called “pulling the slack out of the bar.”

In this position, your entire body should be tight and ready to pull with the weight tight up against your shins.

Your lats should be tight, arms are straight, elbows pointed back behind you, and shoulders over or behind the bar.

Tuck Your Shoulders

Keep your shoulders back and down throughout the deadlift.

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The Sumo Deadlift

Press Into The Ground

Simultaneously press your feet down and out into the ground, as you drive your hips forward and pull your shoulders back, extending your knees and hips together until lockout.

The entire lift should be one smooth motion.

Maintain Control

Stay tight as you lower the bar, with perfect form, sliding against your legs all the way down. This will build strength and improve form.

If you are doing multiple reps, pause on the ground for 1-2 seconds, without bouncing the bar or losing tightness, then pull again.

If you set-up properly your body should do most of the movement for you. All you have to do is stay tight and deadlift.

Key Points

  • Stay tight throughout the entire set-up and deadlift.
  • Grab the ground with your feet.
  • Pull the bar into you.
  • Torque your knees out throughout the full range of motion.
  • Drive your feet into the ground and hips forward.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and head position.

Get our 12-Week Deadlift Program >>

how to deadlift 600 lbs bookGet our “How To Deadlift” Guide!

Everything you need to know about the Sumo Deadlift!

Includes a 12 Week Deadlift Program, Workouts, common Deadlift mistakes and how to fix them! Plus, so much more in this nearly 100-page master guide!

Learn more!

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