Deficit Sumo Deadlift – Muscles Worked, Exercise Demo, and Benefits

The deficit sumo deadlift is a popular sumo deadlift variation seen among powerlifters, fitness athletes, and strength enthusiast looking to diversify their pulling performance and increase strength and leg drive off the floor. Like the regular deficit deadlift, this lift involves moving a loaded barbell throughout a fuller range of motion, challenging one’s ability to find tension and strength in deeper joint flexion at the knee and hips. Additionally, the increased need for mobility and positional strength can increase pulling strength at standard depths and elevated lifts.

Deficit Sumo Deadlift Exercise Demo

The deficit sumo deadlift is a variation that can strengthen the legs, back, hips, and traps for lifters who have issues off the floor or limited strength in their set ups. In the video demo below, the deficit sumo deadlift is demonstrated.

Muscles Worked

The deficit sumo deadlift targets many of the same muscles as the sumo deadlift. The added range of motion, due to the deficit, increases the specific demands on the legs and back as well. Lastly, increasing the range of motion in this deficit pull can challenge smaller stabilizing muscles in the hips and knees as well.

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Vastus Medialis and Lateralis
  • Hamstrings
  • Middle and Upper Traps
  • Spinal Erectors (lower back muscles)
  • Lats and back (minor)

Why Pull Sumo from a Deficit?

Below are three reasons why lifters should try out deficit sumo deadlifts. Many of the below benefits are seen across most deficit deadlift variations, and discussed in detail further in my previous article covering all the benefits of deficit deadlift (of most variations).

1. Increased Leg Strength

Deadlifting from a deficit is a pretty straight forward process, having a lifter stand upon an elevated platform, plates, or other structure. By standing on an elevated platform or surface, the lifter must sit lower in their set up during the pull, increasing the knee and hip flexion at the onset of the lift. By doing so, the lifter is placed at a greater mechanical disadvantage, forced to overcome the load across a longer range of motion, which can drastically increase the demands on the quadriceps, hamstrings, lower back, and hips. Increased strength on a deficit will often lead to stronger lifts (non-deficit) from the floor, greater leg drive in the pull, and enhanced pulling capacities.

2. Posterior Chain Engagement

Deadlifting in general can increase the posterior chain strength and development (hips, hamstrings, back, traps, etc). By pulling from a deficit in the sumo deadlift, you increase the range of motion of the pull, placing greater demands on the posterior chain to allow for postural strength and force development. Like regular deficit deadlift, the deficit sumo deadlift can enhance gluteal, hamstring, and back strength and hypertrophy.

3. Sport Specificity

Powerlifters and strongman athletes may find deficit deadlifts to be highly beneficial for increased leg strength, back development, and stronger pulls from the floor. Like regular deficit deadlifts, sumo deficit deadlifts are a variation that can be used to assist powerlifting pulling techniques, specifically the sumo stance deadlift. By performing deficit pulls with the same stance that a powerlifter or competitive strength athletes may use in competition, the sport application and specific may better match their needs.

Additionally, many sports and functional fitness athletes may want to diversity their pulling style and variations to better develop balance and symmetry in their legs a deadlift training, making the deficit sumo deadlift a viable pulling alternative.

Deadlift Like a Pro!

Check out these articles on deadline technique, variations, and insight advice from some pretty strong pullers and coaches!

Featured Image: @jypsystrength on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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