Sumo Squat Ultimate Guide – Benefits, Technique and Muscles Worked

Build better, stronger legs with the Sumo Squat.

This extensive guide to the Sumo Squat will teach you how to perform this exercise, why it will improve your body and fitness, and what mistakes to avoid.

Squats in their myriad forms should be at the heart of any well considered training program. They target many muscle groups, improve coordination and are a highly useful way to strengthen and transform your body.

Whatever your goal, the more you know, the better you will be able to make the most effective decisions about completing it.

What is the Sumo Squat?

The Sumo Squat is a squatting exercise performed with a wide stance, like a Sumo wrestler.

There are variations and it can be performed with, or without, a load such as a kettlebell or dumbbell.

Benefits of the Sumo Squat

The S Squat has many benefits.

Build lower body muscle.

Increase activation of the adductors (these run down the inside of your thighs). The S Squat works them harder than the conventional stance.

Improve core strength. All Squats are also great for your abs and core.

Enhance balance, coordination and proprioception. During the movement you must stay tight and in control at all times, especially when you are squatting a heavier weight. This forces your body to work hard to stabilise and control your movements. You become more aware of where your body is and how it moves.

Augment Functional Strength. Exercises don’t come more functional and relevant to everyday physical movements and activities than the Squat. Add S Squats into your training and improve your body for life in general and in the gym.

sumo squatsSource: Alora Griffiths
Build strong legs that are ready for anything.

Muscles Worked by the Sumo Squat

The Sumo Squat works:

  • Quadriceps
  • Gluteus muscles
  • Hips
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves (gastrocnemius)
  • Thighs (the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, rectus femoris, and biceps femoris)

How to do the Sumo Squat

  • Place your feet wider than shoulder width apart
  • Point the toes out at 45-degrees
  • Rotate the hips outwards
  • Inhale and brace the core and glutes (and grip if you are performing a weighted Sumo Squat)
  • Break at the hips (push them back) and begin to descend by bending the knees
  • Maintain a straight back
  • Squat lower than parallel, pause then return back up the starting position
  • Exhale during the final part of the ascent
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps

Sumo Squat Technique Tips

Experiment with your foot positions. You can shuffle them outwards or inwards until you find the best placement for your physiology and mobility requirements.

Source: Berlin Throwdown
Stay focused on your goals

Sumo Squat Variations

If you enjoy the S Squat and want to expand the extend of your training, add these varieties into your programming and workouts.

Tempo Sumo Squat

Once your feel comfortable with the technique and breathing, try switching up the tempo.

Try a three second descent, a two second pause at the bottom and a two second ascent back up. This will create more time under tension (helping you build muscle) and improve your general coordination and movement patterns.

Sumo Squat Rotation

Squat down to the bottom position then slowly twist to the right, then to the left. This can also be done whilst holding a dumbbell, bumper plate or kettlebell. It will force your core to work even harder which is great news for your gains.

Sumo Landmine Squat

Bring a Landmine element into your S Squat will help you load the movement but with a different type of bar path. The barbell on the landmine attachment is lifted in an arc movement which will test and improve your strength and balance in new ways.

Sumo jump squat

Simply adding a jump to the final part of the S Squat will improve your explosive power and force generation. Plyometrics are an excellent addition to any training program.

Common Mistakes with the Sumo Squat

Like any exercise, knowing the common mistakes is the best way to identify them in yourself and avoid them.

This will also help you to stay safe and injury free.

Knees Caving Inwards

This is common for all types of Squats and should be avoided at all costs.

It is generally caused by weak glutes, tight hips or the weight simply being too heavy for the strength of the lifter.

A Rounding of the Back

A weak core, poor mobility or a load that is too heavy can cause athletes to round their back during S Squats.

Always focus on form first and if your back does round during the movement, drop the weight and get the technique right before you load it back up again.

Torso Caving Forwards

Often when the S Squat causes lifter to lean forwards it is due to tight hips and calves. The best cure is mobility work.

Taking the time to work on the mobility of the hip flexors can also help to alleviate this issue.

Sumo Squat Alternatives

The following are all advisable alternatives for the S Squat:

  • Sumo Deadlift
  • Goblet Squat
  • Bridge
  • Step ups
  • Rear Lunge
  • Lateral Lunges
  • Kettlebell swings


Got more questions about the S Squat?

Are Sumo Squats Bad?

No. They are a safe, squatting exercise with many benefits. If you have lower back issues or any kind of injury that would be targeted by the squatting movement then speak to a professional physiotherapist before you add S Squats into your training.

Are Sumo Squats Bad for Knees?

No. The opposite is due and the idea that Squats are bad for the knees is simply erroneous.

S Squats can play an important role in developing strong, fit and mobile knee joints.

Do Sumo Squats build Muscle?

Yes. The S Squat is an excellent full body exercise that can be used as an effective muscle building tool. It is especially effective for the glutes, lower back, hips, thighs and calves.

Will Sumo Squats make your Thighs Bigger?

If you want them to, yes. Programming S Squats with weight over 3–5 sets of 8-12 reps will induce hypertrophy (muscle growth). If you eat correctly, rest well and allow for proper recovery alongside your training then S Squats can help to make your thighs bigger.

Are Sumo Squats Better for Glutes?

Yes. The wide stance and angle of the toes and hips forces your glutes to work harder than a regular Squat. This means better gains.

Want to try more new Exercises?

Add the Rack Pull, Face Pull, T Bar Row, Preacher Curl or Landmine Press into your training.

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