Sumo Squat: How to Perform, Benefits, & Expert Tips 

A vector image of a man doing a sumo squat - it is the main image to the article "hack squat reverse"

The sumo squat is one of the most underrated exercises in the world. 

Not only is the sumo squat an incredible exercise for muscle mass and strength, but it can also help out tremendously when it comes to improving your other lifts. 

 Let’s get right into it and take a look at the sumo squat. 

How To Do a Sumo Squat 

Unlike some other squat variations, the sumo squat is quite a straightforward exercise to perform once you know how. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to performing the sumo squat: 

  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing outward at around a 45-degree angle. Maintain a strong and stable posture throughout the exercise. 
  2. Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button towards your spine. This will help maintain stability and proper form. 
  3. Slowly lower your body down by bending your knees, ensuring that they track over your toes. Keep your back straight and your chest lifted. 
  4. Continue lowering your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor or as low as your flexibility allows. Pause for a moment at the bottom position. 
  5. Push through your heels and engage your leg muscles to return to the starting position. Make sure to maintain control throughout the movement. 
  6. Repeat the squat for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on maintaining proper form and engaging the target muscles. 

Sumo Squat Video

Link: Sumo Squat (youtube.com)

Adding Resistance to a Sumo Squat 

To further enhance the effectiveness of the sumo squat, you can do the sumo squat with weight in the form of dumbbells. 

Using dumbbells adds extra load to your muscles, promoting strength and muscle development. It also increases the overall intensity of the exercise. 

You can also do the sumo squat with barbell if you would like to load the sumo squat with more weight. 

Benefits of the Dumbbell Sumo Squat  

 The dumbbell sumo squat is an incredible exercise that offers several benefits for your lower body strength and overall fitness. Here are a few of the most notable: 

Targets Multiple Muscle Groups: The dumbbell sumo squat primarily works your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and inner thighs. It helps build strength and tone these muscles, enhancing lower body stability and power. 

Engages the Core: Performing the dumbbell sumo squat requires core stabilization to maintain balance and proper form. This helps strengthen your abdominal muscles and improve overall core strength. 

Functional Movement: The sumo squat mimics movements used in daily activities and sports, such as lifting heavy objects or improving agility and power in sports that involve lower body strength. 

Versatility: The dumbbell sumo squat can be easily modified by adjusting the weight of the dumbbells or using different variations like the 4-3-1 dumbbell sumo squat (explained below). This allows for progression and variation in your workouts. 

Muscles Worked By the Dumbbell Sumo Squat  

 The sumo squat with dumbbell is a compound exercise that targets several major muscle groups. 

Here are some of the most notable: 

Glutes: The gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus muscles are engaged to generate power and stability during the squat. 

Quadriceps: The muscles at the front of your thighs, including the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis, are heavily involved in the squatting motion. 

Hamstrings: The muscles at the back of your thighs, including the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus, assist in knee flexion and hip extension during the squat. 

Inner Thighs: The adductor muscles, specifically the adductor magnus, longus, and brevis, are activated when performing the sumo squat due to the wider stance. 

How to Do the Dumbbell Sumo Squat  

  1.  Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out at a comfortable angle. 
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, letting them hang down by your sides with your palms facing inward. 
  3. Engage your core and maintain an upright posture throughout the exercise. 
  4. Bend your knees and lower your body into a squat position, ensuring your thighs are parallel to the floor or as low as you can comfortably go. 
  5. Push through your heels and extend your legs to return to the starting position, maintaining control and stability. 
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on maintaining proper form and engaging the target muscles. 

The 4-3-1 Dumbbell Sumo Squat  

The 4-3-1 dumbbell sumo squat is a technique that involves changing the tempo of the exercise, increasing time under tension and intensity. Here’s how to perform it: 

  1. Start in the regular dumbbell sumo squat position, holding a dumbbell in each hand. 
  2. Lower your body into the squat position for a count of four seconds, focusing on maintaining tension in your muscles. 
  3. Hold the squat position at the bottom for three seconds, engaging your muscles and maintaining stability. 
  4. Push through your heels and extend your legs to return to the starting position for a count of one second. 
  5. Repeat the 4-3-1 tempo for the desired number of repetitions, challenging your muscles in a different way. 

How The Sumo Squat Compares To A Traditional Squat 

When it comes to lower body exercises, the sumo squat and the traditional squat are two popular choices that target similar muscle groups but differ in technique and emphasis. Let’s take a closer look at the sumo squat vs squat: 

Stance and Foot Placement 

In a traditional squat, your feet are positioned shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, with your toes pointing forward or slightly outward. 

This stance emphasizes the quadriceps and glutes while engaging the hamstrings and calves to a lesser extent. 

On the other hand, the sumo squat requires a wider stance with toes pointing outward at around a 45-degree angle. 

This stance places more emphasis on the inner thighs (adductors) and glutes, with increased involvement of the hamstrings as well. 

Range of Motion 

Both squats involve bending your knees and lowering your body, but the depth can vary. In a traditional squat, you typically aim to descend until your thighs are parallel to the floor or slightly below. 

This range of motion focuses on building strength and stability throughout the lower body. 

In contrast, the sumo squat often allows for a deeper range of motion due to the wider stance. 

You can aim to lower your body until your thighs are below parallel, targeting the inner thighs and glutes even more intensively. 

Muscles Targeted 

Both squats engage major muscle groups in the lower body, but the emphasis may differ. 

The traditional squat primarily targets the quadriceps (front of the thighs) and glutes, with secondary activation in the hamstrings and calves. 

The sumo squat, with its wider stance, places more emphasis on the glutes, inner thighs, and hamstrings. 

This variation can be particularly beneficial for individuals looking to develop stronger adductor muscles or those seeking more overall lower body activation. 

Hip and Knee Alignment 

The alignment of your hips and knees can also differ between the two squats. In a traditional squat, your knees track over your toes, while your hips move back as if sitting into an imaginary chair. 

This movement pattern helps maintain proper form and minimize stress on the knees. 

In a sumo squat, the wider stance and turned-out toes result in more outward tracking of the knees. 

This alignment allows for greater activation of the adductors and places a different demand on the hip and knee joints. 

Choosing the Right Squat for You 

Deciding between the sumo squat and the traditional squat depends on your goals, preferences, and individual biomechanics. Here are a few considerations to help you make an informed choice: 

Targeted Muscles: If you’re looking to specifically target your glutes, inner thighs, and hamstrings, the sumo squat may be a suitable option. However, if you prefer a more balanced emphasis on the quadriceps and glutes, the traditional squat can be a solid choice. 

Comfort and Mobility: Your body structure and mobility can influence which squat feels more comfortable for you. Experiment with both variations and assess how your joints and muscles respond. Opt for the squat that allows you to maintain proper form and perform the exercise safely and effectively. 

Training Variety: Incorporating both sumo squats and traditional squats into your lower body workouts can provide variety and prevent plateauing. Alternating between the two can challenge your muscles in different ways and contribute to overall strength and muscle development. 

Muscles Worked In The Sumo Squat 

Quadriceps 

One of the main sumo squat muscles worked is the quads. The quadriceps, located at the front of your thighs, play a significant role in the sumo squat. 

As you descend into the squatting position, your quadriceps contract to extend your knees, working to support and stabilize your body throughout the movement. 

Glutes 

Your gluteal muscles, comprising the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, are heavily engaged during the sumo squat. 

This exercise targets your glutes, particularly the gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle in your buttocks. 

The sumo squat helps you develop strength and shape in your glutes, contributing to a firm and well-rounded backside. 

Doing the sumo squat for glutes is going to give you the best activation out of almost any squat variation out there. 

Adductors 

The adductor muscles, situated on the inner side of your thighs, are key players in the sumo squat. 

The wide stance and turned-out toes characteristic of the sumo squat intensify the activation of the adductors. 

These muscles work hard to bring your legs back together as you push through your heels and return to the starting position. 

Hamstrings 

While the primary focus of the sumo squat is on the quadriceps and glutes, the hamstrings also play a supporting role. 

These muscles, located at the back of your thighs, assist in the movement by helping to control the descent and ascent of the squat. 

They work in conjunction with the quadriceps to provide stability and strength during the exercise. 

Calves 

Your calf muscles, specifically the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, also contribute to the sumo squat. 

As you lower your body and push through your heels to rise back up, your calves engage to help control the movement and provide stability. 

Core Stabilizers 

Although the sumo squat primarily targets the lower body, your core muscles also come into play to provide stability and support throughout the exercise. 

The deep abdominal muscles, such as the transverse abdominis, along with the muscles of the lower back, work to maintain proper posture and balance during the squat. 

Benefits Of A Sumo Squat 

The sumo squat is a dynamic exercise that offers numerous benefits for your lower body strength and overall fitness. Let’s delve into some of the most significant sumo squat benefits. 

Targets Multiple Muscle Groups 

The sumo squat is a compound exercise that engages various muscle groups simultaneously. 

It primarily targets the quadriceps, glutes, adductors, hamstrings, and calves. 

By working these major muscle groups together, you can achieve efficient muscle activation and build overall lower body strength. 

Glute Activation and Shaping 

Sumo squats place a particular emphasis on your glute muscles. This exercise activates the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your buttocks, helping you develop strength and shape in this area. 

If you desire a firm and well-rounded backside, sumo squats can be an excellent addition to your routine. 

Inner Thigh Strength 

The wide stance and turned-out toes in a sumo squat target the adductor muscles of your inner thighs. These muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing your legs and bringing them back together as you rise from the squat position. 

Regular practice of sumo squats can help strengthen your inner thighs, improving stability and overall lower body function. 

Quadriceps Development 

The quadriceps, located at the front of your thighs, are key muscles engaged during sumo squats. 

This exercise challenges and strengthens your quads as they work to extend your knees during the squatting motion. Strong quads contribute to enhanced leg power and overall lower body performance. 

Improved Hip Mobility 

The sumo squat requires a wider stance and a greater range of motion compared to traditional squats. 

Performing sumo squats regularly can help improve hip mobility and flexibility. 

This can be particularly beneficial for athletes or individuals involved in activities that require lower body agility and maneuverability. 

Core Stability and Balance 

While primarily targeting the lower body, sumo squats also engage your core muscles. 

Your deep abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, and obliques work to maintain proper posture and balance during the exercise. 

Strengthening your core through sumo squats can have positive effects on overall stability and functional movement. 

Functional Fitness Enhancement 

Sumo squats mimic movements commonly encountered in daily activities and sports. 

The ability to squat with a wide stance and engage multiple muscle groups is essential for various real-life tasks such as lifting objects, climbing stairs, or participating in sports like basketball or volleyball. 

Incorporating sumo squats into your training can enhance your functional fitness, making everyday movements easier and more efficient. 

Variations On The Sumo Squat 

If you’re looking to spice up your lower body workout routine, there are a couple of exciting variations on the traditional sumo squat that can add variety and challenge to your training. 

Let’s explore two popular variations: the Plié Squat with Inner Thigh Pull-in and the Goblet Squat. 

Plié Squat With Inner Thigh Pull-in 

The plié squat adds an extra emphasis on the inner thighs while targeting the same muscle groups as the sumo squat. Here’s how to perform it: 

  1. Start by standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes turned out at a comfortable angle. 
  2. Engage your core, keep your back straight, and lower your body into a squat position, making sure your knees track over your toes. 
  3. As you rise from the squat, squeeze your inner thighs together and pull them toward each other. Imagine you’re squeezing an imaginary ball between your thighs. 
  4. Repeat the movement, focusing on the inner thigh engagement throughout the exercise. 

The Plié Squat with Inner Thigh Pull-in is an excellent variation for strengthening and toning your inner thighs, in addition to targeting your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

It adds an element of coordination and mind-muscle connection to your workout. 

Goblet Squat 

The goblet squat is another fantastic variation that introduces a different loading technique and challenges your core stability. Here’s how to perform it: 

  1. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell vertically with both hands, cupping the weight close to your chest. 
  2. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes turned out at a comfortable angle. 
  3. Keeping your chest lifted and your core engaged, lower your body into a squat position, pushing your hips back and bending your knees. 
  4. Descend until your elbows touch the insides of your knees or until your thighs are parallel to the ground. 
  5. Push through your heels to rise back up to the starting position, maintaining a strong posture throughout. 

The goblet squat is an excellent variation for beginners and those focusing on building lower body strength.

It targets the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, while also engaging your core and upper body as you stabilize the weight. 

Common Sumo Squat Mistakes to Avoid 

The sumo squat is a fantastic exercise for targeting your lower body muscles and building strength. 

However, like any exercise, it’s important to perform it with proper form to maximize its benefits and reduce the risk of injury. 

Let’s take a look at some common mistakes people make when doing sumo squats and how to avoid them. 

Incorrect Stance 

One of the most common mistakes in the sumo squat is starting with an incorrect stance. 

Your feet should be wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes turned out at a comfortable angle. 

Avoid going too wide or too narrow, as it can compromise your balance and form. Find a stance that allows you to maintain stability and perform the movement comfortably. 

Knees Caving Inward 

As you lower into the sumo squat, it’s important to keep your knees tracking in line with your toes. 

Avoid letting your knees cave inward or collapse towards each other. This misalignment can put undue stress on your knee joints and increase the risk of injury. 

 Focus on pushing your knees outwards, in line with your toes, throughout the movement. 

Lack of Depth 

Another mistake is not achieving proper squat depth. 

When performing sumo squats, aim to lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. Going too shallow can limit the engagement of your target muscles and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. 

However, avoid going too low if it compromises your form or causes discomfort in your knees or hips. 

Rounded Back 

Maintaining proper spinal alignment is crucial in any squat variation, including the sumo squat. 

Avoid rounding your back or hunching forward during the movement. Instead, keep your chest lifted, shoulders back, and spine neutral throughout. Engage 

your core muscles to help support your posture and protect your lower back. 

How To Add Sumo Squats to Your Workout 

If you’re ready to incorporate sumo squats into your workout routine and experience the amazing benefits they offer, here’s a guide on how to do it effectively. 

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned fitness enthusiast, adding sumo squats can help you build lower body strength, improve muscle tone, and enhance overall functional fitness. 

Warm-Up 

Before diving into any exercise, it’s important to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for the workout. 

Spend a few minutes engaging in light cardiovascular activity, such as jogging or jumping jacks, to increase blood flow and elevate your heart rate. 

Additionally, perform dynamic stretches that target the muscles involved in the sumo squat, like your hips, thighs, and glutes. 

Technique Focus 

Start by mastering the proper technique for the sumo squat. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out at a comfortable angle. 

Keep your chest lifted, core engaged, and back straight throughout the movement. As you lower your body, push your hips back and bend your knees, aiming to reach at least parallel thigh position. 

Maintain control and avoid bouncing or jerking motions. 

Sets and Repetitions 

Depending on your fitness level and goals, determine the appropriate number of sets and repetitions for your sumo squats. For beginners, start with 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions. 

As you progress, increase the number of sets and repetitions gradually to challenge your muscles. Remember to listen to your body and adjust the intensity accordingly. 

Incorporate Resistance 

To further enhance the effectiveness of your sumo squats, consider adding resistance. 

This can be done by using dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands. Hold the weights or loop the band around your thighs to add resistance and increase the demand on your muscles. 

Start with a manageable weight or resistance level and gradually increase as your strength improves. 

Rest and Recovery 

Allow your body adequate time to rest and recover between workouts. Rest days are essential for muscle repair and growth. 

Aim to incorporate sumo squats into your routine 2-3 times per week, spacing out the sessions to give your muscles time to recover. 

Progression and Variation 

To continue challenging your muscles and avoiding plateaus, consider progressing your sumo squat routine over time. 

This can include increasing the weight or resistance, exploring different sumo squat variations (like the goblet squat or sumo squat with pulses), or incorporating advanced techniques such as tempo variations or plyometric sumo squats. 

At-home Workouts 

Here are a few examples of some at-home workouts you can do that include the sumo squat: 

Leg Day 

Barbell back squats: 3 x 8 

Sumo squats: 2 x 12 

Calf raises: 4 x 12 

Full-body 

Sumo squats: 4 x 12 

Dips: 4 x 12 

Pull-ups: 4 x 12 

Tips for Doing the Sumo Squat 

Find Your Stance: Start by standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out at a comfortable angle. Experiment with different foot positions to find the width that feels most natural and stable for you. Everyone’s body is unique, so adjust your stance accordingly. 

Engage Your Core: Before descending into the squat, engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button toward your spine. This helps stabilize your body throughout the movement and protects your lower back. 

Chest Up, Shoulders Back: Maintain an upright posture throughout the exercise. Keep your chest lifted, shoulders back, and avoid hunching forward. This alignment not only improves your form but also helps activate the correct muscles. 

Control the Descent: Lower your body down by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Aim to bring your thighs at least parallel to the ground, but avoid going too deep if it compromises your form or causes discomfort. Control the descent rather than dropping quickly. 

Knees and Toes Aligned: As you perform the sumo squat, ensure that your knees track in line with your toes. Avoid letting your knees collapse inward or splay out too far. This alignment helps protect your knee joints and ensures proper muscle activation. 

Drive Through Your Heels: As you rise back up from the squat, focus on pushing through your heels. This engages your glutes and hamstrings, helping you maintain balance and generate power. Avoid coming up on your toes or shifting the weight onto the balls of your feet. 

Breathe Properly: Don’t forget to breathe! Inhale deeply before you descend into the squat and exhale as you push through your heels to rise back up. Breathing properly helps oxygenate your muscles and provides stability throughout the movement. 

Keep Your Knees Safe: If you have knee issues or concerns, it’s essential to listen to your body and adapt the sumo squat accordingly. You can modify the depth of the squat or perform a shallower range of motion to reduce stress on your knees. 

Gradually Increase Intensity: If you’re new to sumo squats or returning after a break, start with bodyweight squats to establish proper form and technique. As you gain confidence and strength, gradually increase the intensity by incorporating resistance, such as dumbbells or kettlebells. 

Practice Regularly: Consistency is key. Include sumo squats in your regular workout routine to improve your strength and see progress over time. Whether you choose to perform them during a dedicated lower body workout or as part of a full-body routine, regular practice will help you refine your technique and reap the rewards. 

Sumo Squat – FAQs 


What is The Sumo Squat Good for?

Sumo squats are good for overall lower body development as well as improving strength on other lifts. This exercise hits almost all lower body muscles and does an exceptional job of building a good level of strength. 

What Is The Difference Between Sumo Squats And Goblet Squats? 

The main difference between sumo squats and goblet squats is that sumo squats require a wider stance and outward foot placement while goblet squats have a narrow stance. 

Sumo squats also work the calves and hamstrings more than goblet squats. 

Do Sumo Squats Actually Target Glutes? 

Yes, sumo squats do actually target glutes. 

In fact, sumo squats tend to target the glutes slightly more than other squat variations due to the wider stance. 

What Is The Best Squat For Glutes? 

The best squat for glutes is the sumo squat. 

This is because the sumo squat has a wider foot placement than most other squat variations, putting more of an emphasis on the glutes. 

What’s The Difference Between a Goblet Squat and a Sumo Squat?

The main difference between a goblet squat and a sumo squat lies in the stance and muscle emphasis. In a goblet squat, you typically hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at chest level while performing the squat movement.

The stance is usually shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, and the movement emphasizes the quadriceps, glutes, and core muscles.

On the other hand, a sumo squat involves taking a wider stance with the feet positioned wider than shoulder-width apart, similar to a sumo wrestler’s stance.

This wider stance targets the inner thigh muscles (adductors) to a greater extent, in addition to the quadriceps and glutes.

While both exercises are effective for building lower body strength and muscle mass, they offer slightly different muscle activation patterns and can be incorporated into a well-rounded leg workout routine.

What is the Difference Between a Frog Squat and a Sumo Squat?

The primary difference between a frog squat and a sumo squat lies in the stance and foot positioning.

In a frog squat, you start by squatting down with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed outward, similar to the stance of a frog.

This wide stance targets the inner thigh muscles (adductors) and glutes, while also engaging the quadriceps and core muscles.

On the other hand, a sumo squat involves taking a wider stance with the feet positioned wider than shoulder-width apart, but the toes are typically pointed more forward compared to a frog squat.

This stance variation in the sumo squat places more emphasis on the adductors and inner thigh muscles, with less involvement of the glutes compared to the frog squat.

Both exercises can be beneficial for building lower body strength and muscle endurance, but the specific emphasis may vary slightly depending on the stance and foot positioning.

Is Sumo Squat Easier Than Normal Squat?

Whether a sumo squat is easier than a normal squat depends on individual preferences, strengths, and weaknesses.

The sumo squat offers a wider than shoulder width stance, which can provide more stability and engagement of the inner thigh muscles (adductors, adductor longus to be specific) compared to the regular squat form.

Some individuals may find that the wider stance of the sumo squat alleviates pressure on the lower back and hip flexors, making it more comfortable to perform, especially for those with lower back issues or limited hip mobility. It has many of the same qualities as the leg press, but offers more of a compound movement.

This is why a personal trainer may suggest a sumo squat for people with mobility issues and to promote healthy aging.

However, others may prefer the more traditional shoulder-width stance of a regular squat, which allows for a greater range of motion and engagement of the quadriceps, glutes, and core muscles.

Ultimately, both squat variations are effective for building lower body strength and can be incorporated into a well-rounded leg workout routine.

It’s essential to focus on maintaining good form and technique, regardless of the squat variation chosen, to ensure safety and maximize results.

We hope we have been able to give you a better insight into the sumo squat. 

This exercise is one of the best out there for increasing glute and quad size, and there is a good reason it is a favourite among bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, and powerlifters. 

If you would like more fitness advice, feel free to head over to MovingForwards to see what else we have that could help you. 

Have fun!