November 07, 2021 9 min read

Every lifter knows about squats. They are considered the best exercises for building muscle and mass. They incorporate every muscle in your legs while also engaging your core. It really is the perfect lower body exercise. But what if we told you there was a way to enhance the squat?

Using what is known as a sumo squat, you can enhance your leg workouts and turn an already amazing lower body exercise into something that’s even more beneficial. Sit tight and we’ll tell you all there is to know about it.

What Is A Sumo Squat?

Before we begin, we need to answer this question. Thankfully, it’s easy to answer. A sumo squat is simply a variation of your typical squat where your feet are wider than usual. This provides a few different benefits and changes up what muscles are hit when doing the exercise.

At its core, a sumo squat is still a squat, therefore it's a compound exercise that works quads, hamstrings, glutes, your core, and other accessory muscles in a normal squat. On top of all of these, sumo squats work your adductors and hip flexors.

Differences Between Sumo Squats and Regular Squats

Of course, your first question must be about the differences between sumo squats and the regular version is. Truth be told, there’s not a whole lot. That being said, there are still some key points that really help make sumos stand out from a standard squat. 

  • Firstly, sumo squats are extremely effective at hitting your inner thigh adductors. Since your legs are spread out more than a typical squat, your thighs have to move inwards when you’re pushing the weight back up. Essentially, your legs have to make more use of your adductors than in a normal squat. 
  • They put more emphasis on glute muscles that you might not use all that much. Specifically, the gluteus medius and minimus. Both of these muscle groups are located around your hip bones, not in your posterior as you may think.
  • The sumo squat is also more of a challenge to your balance, compared to a normal squat. This is more dependant on your own core strength though and might only be difficult as your body isn’t used to the position and might need more stability to stop from rocking back and forth. 
  • Finally, and obviously, your foot position differs greatly when doing this exercise. Unlike a normal squat, your feet will be wider than shoulder-width while doing this exercise. 

Sumo Squat Benefits

  • The biggest benefit to doing sumo squats is undoubtedly the fact that this exercise is an excellent workout for your inner thighs, particularly the adductor muscles. Working on this particular muscle group can actually help you with the standard squat variations in the long run. This makes sumo squats an excellent accessory to lower body training. 
  • Another benefit to this exercise is the surprising challenge that it’ll pose to your core muscles. Because of the stance you have to take during this exercise you’ll find that your core actually gets more activation than a conventional squat. So, it’s a great way to build up some strength in your abs if your usual squat routine or ab routine doesn’t do the job for you. 
  • Like a conventional squat, the sumo squat is a compound movement, as well as a general functional movement. This means that it hits a lot of muscle groups that you’ll use during day-to-day activities because you’ll perform the same motions. For instance, you typically squat down to pick up a heavy object. 
  • This type of squat is also perfect for any of you lifters who are tall. The sumo squat is reported to be more comfortable for taller people as it allows for a more range of motion from the wider stance. 

How To Do A Sumo Squat

Now that you know more about sumo squats and have seen that they have plenty of amazing benefits, let’s show you how to do them. 

     

    • Before you get started, you’ll need a few things. Namely, a barbell and a squat rack. We recommend starting out with just the bar and then adding on weight as you get more comfortable. 
    • With the bar loaded into the squat rack, approach and get under it as you would when performing a normal squat, grabbing it with an overhand grip. 
    • Now, you’ll need to adjust to a wide stance, this is the crucial step for a proper sumo squat. Place your feet much wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your toes outward to a 45-degree angle. 
    • Next, inhale and lower yourself down like you would with a squat. Make sure you’re pushing your hips back, keeping your core tight, knees forward, and your back straight during the movement to avoid possible lower back injury.
    • Once your thighs are parallel with the floor, exhale and push through with your heels. Rise slowly and steadily until you’re back to the starting position. Pause for a moment before starting your next repetition.  

      Common Mistakes For Sumo Squats

      Like a conventional squat, doing this exercise with good form is crucial, so here are some common mistakes you should look out for. Additionally, you’ll find how to correct them as well. 

      • First of all, you need to make sure your knees don’t cave inward during the exercise. This is something that tends to happen to lifters during a conventional squat as well. The root cause of this is typically weak glute muscles or if your hips aren’t stretched out. 
      • Rounding your back is another classic mistake people make when squatting or even deadlifting. A rounded back occurs when your core can’t support the weight you’re trying to lift, so your back tries to compensate. If you find yourself rounding your back during your squats, reduce the weight and really start incorporating ab exercises into your routines. 
      • Another thing that tends to happen is people will lean forward too much during a squat. This tends to happen when your hips are too tight and can even be caused by tight calves. This is a mistake that can actually take a bit of time to correct as it requires you to properly stretch out your hips and strengthen your calf muscles

      Sumo Squat Variations That You Should Try 

      Like many exercises, the sumo squat has variations that can help to target certain areas better or give you more of a challenge during a workout. Try these out if you want to mix things up or jack up the intensity! 

      Bodyweight Sumo Squats

       

      This is a variation we highly recommend for beginners before they start doing barbell sumo squats. The reason is that the movement can be difficult sometimes and it’s very important to really nail down the form before you start loading on the big plates.

      For this exercise, all you need to do is follow the steps that we laid out for doing sumo squats, but just don’t use a barbell. 

      If you want to get an extra core workout in during this exercise, you can try rotating your torso once you lower yourself down. Or, if you want to work your legs even more try slowing down during the entire movement. This will increase the time that your leg muscles are under tension, encouraging more muscle growth. 

      Sumo Squat Jack

       

      The sumo squat jack is what you should try out if you want to get a really killer bodyweight workout. As you might’ve guessed, this exercise has you essentially doing a jumping jack while you’re doing your sumo squats. It can be a great way to get some extra cardio in between sets.

      For this exercise, all you have to do is spring upwards when you come up from the squat and do a jumping jack. Then, when you come back down, go back into your sumo squat position. 

      Dumbbell Sumo Squats/Goblet Squats

       

      Doing sumo squats with a dumbbell is another great alternative if you can’t do them with a barbell yet, or are looking to take the bodyweight version to the next level. There are two ways that you can do this exercise. You can either use two dumbbells, just one, or even kettlebells.

      Either way, all you need to do is hold them in front of you, between your legs and perform a sumo squat. When holding one dumbbell in front of you, this variation is referred to as a goblet sumo squat. 

      Workout Plan Recommendations 

      As many lifters may know, there are three main goals that you can strive for when you’re doing weight training. These three goals are strength, hypertrophy, and muscle endurance. What goal you are shooting for will ultimately decide how much weight and how many reps you should be including in your sets.

      Because sumo squats can be done in a variety of different ways, you can easily customize the exercise to suit your goals. To help you get started, we’ve set up some recommendations for routines. 

      Hypertrophy

      In case you didn’t know, muscle hypertrophy is basically when you’re trying to add overall mass and size to your muscles. This style of training is commonly done by bodybuilders. Now, workouts aren’t the only thing you’ll need in order to drive hypertrophy. It’s very important to eat right and increase your protein intake, supplementing it with a protein powder like Whey-ISO.

      Anyways, here’s what we recommend for a workout if you’re trying to drive hypertrophy in your muscles: 

      • Start out with bodyweight sumo squats to get your muscles all warmed up. You’ll want to do three to five sets of 10 reps to get yourself started. After that, we can start adding weight to really drive hypertrophy. 
      • Next up, you should do barbell sumo squats. When deciding how much weight you should use, make sure that you’re using a heavy enough weight that you feel tired by the time you get to 10 reps. This will usually be a moderate to a heavy amount of weight. Do this exercise for 3 to 5 sets.  
      • Finally, you’ll be doing dumbbell sumo squats or goblet sumo squats. After all of that heavy lifting, we’ll be doing a cooldown set to make sure that your muscles are still stimulated, but not overworked. Therefore, you’ll want a light to moderate weight for this exercise. Do this exercise for 3 sets and then you’ll be just about done with this routine
      • For the final part of this routine, you’ll need to make sure that you stretch. Stretching after a rigorous workout can be essential to proper muscle recovery, so don’t neglect it. Try some stretches like butterflies or pigeon poses to help keep your hips loose. 

      Strength

      This is how people like powerlifters will train. Your rep range won’t be as high and you’ll be using heavier weights than when training for hypertrophy. You’ll obviously still see some muscle growth during this type of training but overall you’ll see more gains in terms of how much you can actually lift during these exercises.

      Here’s a routine for you to try out for strength training: 

      • For this type of training, you’ll need to make sure that your muscles are properly warmed up, so you’ll need to do a bit of light work. We recommend doing either dumbbell or goblet sumo squats with a moderate amount of weight. You can also just go with barbell sumo squat if you can’t use dumbbells at the moment. Do this exercise for three sets. 
      • Now we get into the heavy work. For this step, we recommend barbell sumo squats as you can load the most amount of weight onto this exercise. When doing this you want a weight that’s heavy enough that you can only do about 3-5 reps. Then, you’ll want to do this for 3 to 5 sets. Remember to rest for at least a minute in between sets to give your muscles enough time to recover 
      • After all of that, your muscles will need some time to cool down and rest. We recommend doing some bodyweight sumo squats, followed by some stretching. 

      Endurance 

      Endurance training certainly has a spot in any form of weightlifting. If your muscles don’t get tired as easily, you’ll be able to do more reps and will ultimately have an easier time during your workouts. The only downside about this type of training is that you generally won’t see too much muscle growth if you pursue it. That being said, it’s still important to work on and shouldn’t be neglected.

      Here’s a little routine to get you going:

      • Start out with bodyweight sumo squats. For the purposes of endurance training, you’ll want to do anywhere from 15 to 20 reps. Do this for about 3 sets. 
      • Now it’s time to turn up the intensity with some sumo squat jacks! Like the previous exercise, you’ll want to do this for about 15 to 20 reps for three sets. 
      • With your legs fired up, we’ll end this routine by doing more bodyweight sumo squats, but with rotations to really work the abs. 

      Final Thoughts 

      The sumo squat is easily one of the best  thigh exercises and is an excellent accessory exercise for any leg or lower body day. It’s perfect for someone looking to strengthen their hip muscles while still being an excellent substitute for a conventional squat.

      Not only that, but it can actually be more comfortable for many lifters. We highly recommend this exercise to anyone that’s looking for a new challenge to their lower body!