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Booty Building Series: How to Sumo Deadlift


Set Up: Equipment To set up the sumo deadlift, you first need to load the bar with a weight you are comfortable warming up with. Since the bar weighs 45lbs on its own, you may need to begin with 5 or 10lb bumper (rubber) plates to get started. I highly recommend using olympic standard diameter size plates (some plates that weigh less than 45lbs are much shorter--your plates should be the same height as a 45lb plate even if they weigh less). You will be most successful completing this lift in very flat shoes (or barefoot). My favorites are Converse and wrestling shoes.

Setting up the lift To set up the lift, walk your feet out to a wide stance with your toes pointed outward. For people of an average height, your shins will be near the rings (small smooth ring between the knurling sections) of the bar. Your shins should be very close to the bar (touching is ok), and your weight should be evenly distributed throughout your entire foot.

Reach down and grab the bar so that your hands are directly below your shoulders (see photo). From this position, bend your knees to lower your hips until your shoulder blades are directly over the bar, with your spine neutral. You should be able to drive through your heels from this position, so you may feel that you need to sit "back" a bit, depending on your leg torso lengths. When you reach for the bar, check to ensure that your knees line up with your toes--they should not cave in. If you find your knees are in front/inside of your toes, try pointing your feet slightly more forward. *Note: The bar should not move at this point--if the bar rolls forward, you need to engage your glutes to keep your knees pushed out.

Execution Rotate arms out, as if you are trying to bend the bar, and pull your arms in close as if you are trying to prevent someone from tickling you. This engages your latissimus dorsi, helping you to keep tightness in the lift. This also helps to pull the "slack" out of the bar, so that the bar is ready to come off of the floor. This is one of the most important steps you will perform in your execution. Take a deep breath in through your belly, bracing your core. Drive your knees out to engage the glutes and push through your heels.

Envision pushing the floor down and apart with your heels as you pull the bar up your shins and thighs to your hips. Your goal should be to engage your glutes and pull your hips through to the bar, keeping the glutes engaged at all times. Your spine should remain neutral throughout the lift, with core engaged and braced. The lift is complete when you are standing erect, the bar has come to a rest in front of the hips, and shoulders are directly above the hips, with standard posture. All muscles should still be active. Return to the bar to the floor (no need to be overly gentle here, just don't let go!). You have completed one rep!

Tips and Cues for your Sumo Deadlift:

  • Keep your chest up. Imagine that you are showing off the logo on your shirt.​

  • Keep spine neutral (straight), but not hyperextended (arched).​

  • Glutes engaged at all times--drive knees out and back.

  • When your hips move, the bar should move also. Hips should not shoot up before the bar comes off the floor.

Keep lats and upper back engaged. Rotate elbows out to "break the bar" and tuck in upper arms, as if you are avoiding being tickled


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Birmingham, AL 35243

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