Sumo Deadlift High Pull – Muscles Worked, Exercise Demo, and Benefits

In this article we will discuss the sumo deadlift high pull, a compound total body exercise that builds posterior chain strength, muscle mass, and fitness. In the below sections we will go through the muscles worked by the sumo deadlift high pull, proper exercise technique, benefits, and potential risks of performing this movement.

Muscles Worked

The sumo deadlift high pull is a compound total body exercise, meaning it stresses a wide array of muscle groups that function across numerous joints in the body. The below list of muscles are the primary muscle groups worked when performing the sumo deadlift high pull, in no specific order.

  • Hamstrings
  • Gluteals
  • Spinal Erectors
  • Trapezius
  • Posterior Shoulder
  • Quadriceps (vastus medialis)
  • Biceps and Forearms

Sumo High Pull Exercise Tutorial

In the below videos the sumo deadlift high pull is demonstrated, with a barbell.

4 Benefits of the Sumo High Pull

In the below section we will discuss four (4) benefits of performing the sumo deadlift high pull. Note, that this exercise can be done with a variety of equipment (barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells).

Posterior Chain Development

The posterior chain is a term used to describe the muscle groups of the back of the body that are responsible for hip extension and most human locomotive and powerful movements. The sumo deadlift high pull targets that hamstrings, gluteals, and back; all of which can increase muscle hypertrophy and strength necessary for more explosive and strength based movements in sports, training, and life.

Power Output

While the sumo deadlift high pull may not have the highest of power readings as snatches, cleans, jerks, and push presses, it can be a good option to help develop power output capacities in beginner athletes and/or those unable to perform more complex posterior chain power movements (snatch and clean).

Compound, Total Body Movement

Like the squat, thruster, snatch, clean, and push press (just to make a few), the sumo deadlift high pull is total body compound exercise. Constructing exercise programs and workouts around compound total body exercises is often a priority when looking to increase athleticism, functional strength, and caloric expenditure as it stresses a great deal of muscle mass per repetition.

Metabolic Conditioning

Metabolic fitness is key for sports that require cardiovascular fitness, anaerobic abilities, and muscle endurance. Movements like the sumo deadlift high pull can be placed into workouts and training cycles to stress large amounts of muscle tissue, done in a higher rep fashion that will drive heart rate up, and instill local and systemic muscular fatigue. In doing so, you enable athletes to adapt to more intense training to mentally physically become more adept at dealing with such stresses; many of which can be found in competitive fitness WODs and more intense activities of daily life (military, fighting, sports, etc)

Are Sumo Deadlift High Pulls Safe?

There has been some debates about whether or not sumo deadlift high pulls are in fact “worth” it given the shoulder positioning at the top of the pull, which can add some stress to the shoulder joint as the hand placement (narrow) and the loading may lead to increase shoulder injuries under high loads, volume, and fatigue. Like most exercises, their are some inherent risks to training, which coaches and athletes should be aware of and modify if needed (such as individuals with shoulder issues, flair-ups, or discomfort). Understanding the risk of forcing high rep, heavier load (since the lower body can really move some weight and build momentum for you in this one, allowing you to move heavier loads), and doing them under increasing amounts of stress lies on the coach and the athlete performing these.

Metabolic Movements to Master

Take a look at the below total body exercises and learn why you need to start interfering them into your training!

Featured Image: @mrsrichards87 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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