Learn the Deficit Sumo Deadlift for More Pulling Strength and Mobility

Want to stir up some trouble between strength athletes? Bring up their deadlift stance. Sumo deadlifts are controversial, to say the least. To some, taking a sumo stance is cheating. You can lift more weight with a smaller range of motion, the argument goes, so you’re cheating. Others argue that it’s not as simple as that. Limb length and muscle activation — not to mention elite competition results — make the issue a lot more complicated. Needless to say, the debate rages on.

For range of motion purists, what if you could lift heavier from a sumo stance but also pull from a larger range of motion? Enter the deficit sumo deadlift. The wide stance requires more quad engagement, core stability, and can help protect your lower back. Lifting from an elevated platform means you have to hold and pull the weight for a longer time and farther distance than if you were standing on the floor.

A close up image shows a person clapping their hands with chalk just above a loaded barbell.Credit: Master1305 / Shutterstock

That’s giving you the best of both worlds in terms of conventional versus sumo pulls. If you’ve been deadlifting for a while now, read on to find out how to safely challenge yourself with a new variation.

  • How to Do the Deficit Sumo Deadlift
  • Deficit Sumo Deadlift Sets and Reps
  • Common Deficit Sumo Deadlift Mistakes
  • Deficit Sumo Deadlift Variations
  • Deficit Sumo Deadlift Alternatives
  • Muscles Worked by the Deficit Sumo Deadlift
  • Benefits of the Deficit Sumo Deadlift
  • Who Should Do the Deficit Sumo Deadlift
  • Frequently Asked Questions 

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Índice
  1. How to Do the Deficit Sumo Deadlift
    1. Step 1 – Set Up the Deficit
    2. Step 2 – Build Tension in Your Hinge
    3. Step 3 – Push Down to Pull the Bar Up
    4. Step 4 – Lower the Bar with Tension
  2. Deficit Sumo Deadlift Sets and Reps
  3. Common Deficit Sumo Deadlift Mistakes
    1. Rounding Your Back
    2. Knees Coming Forward
    3. Craning Your Neck
  4. Deficit Sumo Deadlift Variations
    1. Double Kettlebell Sumo Deficit Deadlift
    2. Sumo Deficit Romanian Deadlift
  5. Deficit Sumo Deadlift Alternatives
    1. Glute Bridge
    2. Cable Pull-Through
    3. Single-Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift
  6. Muscles Worked by the Deficit Sumo Deadlift
    1. Glutes
    2. Hamstrings
    3. Quads
    4. Erector Spinae
    5. Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)
  7. Benefits of the Deficit Sumo Deadlift
    1. Improved Mobility
    2. Increased Strength
    3. Potentially Reduced Back Pain
  8. Who Should Do the Deficit Sumo Deadlift
    1. Beginners
    2. Bodybuilders
    3. Powerlifters
  9. Gain from a Deficit
  10. FAQs

How to Do the Deficit Sumo Deadlift

For this lift, you’ll be performing essentially the same loaded hip hinge exercise as a conventional deadlift. The two main differences are that you’ll be pulling from an elevated position (which creates the deficit) and with your stance wider than your grip (the sumo stance). To perform the deficit sumo deadlift, you will need a proper set up of both equipment and form.

Step 1 – Set Up the Deficit

A person wearing a red Westside Barbell shirt and lifting belt stares down at a deficit deadlift setup.Credit: Samson Barbell / YouTube

Measure your sumo stance: your feet should be wider than hip’s width, with your toes pointed slightly out. Get two stable risers, such as bumper plates. Place the risers where your feet will be. Step onto them and roll a loaded barbell into position over your midfoot.

Coach’s Tip: If you’re just learning this exercise, use a shorter deficit until you get comfortable with the move.

Step 2 – Build Tension in Your Hinge

A person wearing a red Westside Barbell shirt, lifting belt, and baseball cap prepares to deficit sumo deadlift.Credit: Samson Barbell / YouTube

Hinge down to grab the barbell with your hands under your shoulders. Push your feet down. Bend your knees and push your hips back. Keep your knees stacked over your ankles. Depress your scapulae to engage your lats. Brace your core to keep your spine neutral. Tuck your chin slightly. Focus on feeling all of this tension to be sure that you can maintain it when you begin the lift.

Coach’s Tip: Practice holding an isometric hinge at the bottom position without weight for 30 seconds. Stand up and reset before returning to do your first rep.

Step 3 – Push Down to Pull the Bar Up

A person wearing a red Westside Barbell shirt, lifting belt, and baseball cap performs a deficit sumo deadlift.Credit: Samson Barbell / YouTube

Maintaining the position and tension, push the ground away with your feet. Drive through your legs to stand up with power from your hips. Tuck your hips and squeeze your glutes at the top. Maintain a stiff core and neutral spine.

Coach’s Tip: The more you drive through your legs and squeeze your abs, the safer this will be on your low back.

Step 4 – Lower the Bar with Tension