The Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift: How To Do, Benefits, And Tips

Dumbbell sumo deadlift

The dumbbell sumo deadlift is a popular variation of the much-loved sumo deadlift (which itself is a variation of the conventional dl). It’s an incredible full-body compound lift and one of the best alternatives to the conventional barbell DL.

How does it differ from the conventional lift? Well, first of all in this modification, either a single or a set of dumbbells are used instead of the classical bar. Secondly, this DL type uses something called a sumo stance. It’s an extra-wide leg stance that resembles the starting position of sumo wrestlers (hence the name).

The lift trains pretty much every muscle in your body, whit the main effort going on your back and leg muscles. The main muscle groups that are worked are: your quads, hamstrings, glutes, upper and lower back muscles, rear deltoids, core and stabilizer muscles, and also your forearms and hands.

Benefits Of The Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift

It’s a great full-body exercise that can be done both in the gym and at home.  Just like the conventional deadlift, this dumbbell variation is an excellent full-body compound lift. It will train your muscles from head to toe with the main effort going on your back and legs. Now what really distinguishes this exercise is the fact that it can be done basically anywhere as long as you have access to either a dumbbell or a kettlebell. So it makes for a great at-home alternative for the barbell DL.  

It trains your posterior chain muscles. Your posterior chain is made up of all the muscles, tendons, and ligaments on your backside. All the muscles in your posterior chain are crucial for strength, power, posture, and injury prevention. Not many exercises are capable of working the posterior chain effectively or as a whole except for different types of deadlifts. The sumo dumbbell deadlift is no exception here. 

It will improve your posture. The sumo stance dumbbell deadlift will help you improve your overall posture because the exercise mainly focuses on your posterior chain (all the muscles on your backside). Also, the lift will help strengthen your entire core and stabilizer muscles, which are also important factors in our posture. 

Decreased lumbar and lower back stress compared to other deadlift variations. Your body is in a much more upright position while using the sumo stance. That means you are placing a lot less stress on both your spine and lower back muscles while lifting the weight. That makes this exercise a great deadlift variation for people who have existing back injuries or other lower back problems. 

It’s a better option for people with less mobility and flexibility in their back, hips, and legs.  This exercise is a much safer and a little easier option for people who don’t have adequate flexibility to do the conventional DL with proper form. Again thanks to the more upright position and the decreased range of motion of this lift, it requires a lot less leg and hip mobility. 

It increases your pulling strength. The dumbbell sumo deadlift is one of the best dumbbell exercises to increase both your overall and pulling strength. It can be done by using quite heavy weights and heavy loads. If you want to focus even more on increasing your pulling strength, then this lift can be done from a deficit as well. 

Increased glutes and quads development.  The wide sumo stance will target both your quads and glutes more than the conventional version. It’s because the wider leg stance will place you in a position that resembles squatting, and the initial motion mimics squats. 

How To Do The Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift

Dumbbell sumo deadlift

This deadlift can be performed by using either a single dumbbell (that is on its head) or with a set of dumbbells. Using a set of dumbbells will shift the center of weight a little more in front of you, but by using two, you can use a significantly higher weight to perform this lift. Also, you can use kettlebells or other pieces of equipment instead of dumbbells. In this exercise guide, we will be focusing on how to perform the single dumbbell sumo deadlift

Dumbbell sumo deadlift
  1. Stand in a wide stance. Your feet should be wider than your shoulders. Your toes should be slightly pointed out.
  2. Place a dumbbell on one of its ends in front of yourself. The dumbbell should be placed between your feet.
  3. Hinge your upper body forward from your hips and squat down a little.
  4. Grasp the dumbbell from its weight side with both of your hands. 
  5. Tighten your abs and core.
  6. Keep your chest up and your head in a neutral position. 
  7. Lift the weight by straightening your legs and hips. 
  8. When at the top push your hips slightly forward to lock them.
  9. Slowly lower the weight back down and repeat. 

Tips and recommendations

  1. Start with lighter weights and work up from there. 
  2. Keep your core braced and engaged for the whole exercise.
  3. Don’t take a too wide stance. Your stance should be a little wider than your shoulders. 
  4. Be sure to point your toes out.
  5. Do not round your back keep it straight and in a natural position.
  6. Keep your chest and head up throughout the exercise.
  7. When pulling the weight up, push your feet to the floor. Imagine pushing through the floor.

Variations Of The Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift

Deficit Dumbbell SUmo Deadlift

The deficit dumbbell sumo deadlift is a great exercise to really shift the focus on your back muscles and onto increasing your pulling strength. It’s a bit more challenging variation of the original. The idea behind this variation is to elevate yourself relative to the weight so you would be pulling it from a deficit. 

This is usually done by either standing on blocks or weight lifting plates. The goal is to elevate your self a few inches off the ground (about 1-6 inches, that is 2-12 cm) in order to increase the distance the weight has to move. 

Because of the increased range of motion and the much deeper starting point, this exercise has quite a few benefits over the original variation such as: 

  1. It will focus more on your back and hip muscles. 
  2. The lift will help you increase your pulling strength. 
  3. It will increase your liftin posture and increase the time under tension. 
  4. It will increase your hip and leg mobility and flexibility.

Although the deficit deadlift has many benefits, it isn’t for everybody. It’s an advanced and much more challenging variation of the original. Because of the lower starting point, the risk of injury is much higher than the conventional dumbbell sumo deadlift. So technique and proper form are everything in this exercise. Also, the lift places a lot more stress on your lower back, so it might not be suitable for people with lower back issues.

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