Workouts & Exercises

Sumo Deadlift Smith Machine: Can It Help You Build Better Gains?

The entire point of going to the gym is seeing how far you can push your body and figuring out just how important your time spent in there will be.

Most of you reading this have likely already had a stint in the gym and recently plateaued, which means eating chicken and rice for all those years has finally paid off; the only problem is that you’re stuck at a particular weight.

The only way to build a stronger body at that point is to introduce new workouts into your routine, which is why we’re going to take a look at the Sumo Deadlift today (and how you can accomplish them on a Smith machine).

Shocking your body is the key to success in the gym, and that means bringing in new machines that you’ve never tried before. When you pair a new machine (take the pec cable flys machine, a squat  rack, or a smith one, for instance) with a new technique, you’re bound to see results at some point! 

Building muscle naturally is achievable regardless of your body type, you just have to put the work in - sitting on your butt and eating chicken fries from Burger King will only get you so far in life.

What is a Sumo Deadlift Machine?

A sumo deadlift machine is built to offer you a safe Sumo lifting workout

You might have already seen a wierd-looking machine it at your local gym and pondered… “What on earth is this monster and what's it for?”

Well, that is probably a Smith machine, often used for sumo deadlifts.

It’s pretty much a simple but efficient deadlift machine with designated lifting mechanisms that make sumo deadlifts  easier- but still effective. More importantly, it makes the lifts even safer by controlling your movement with the use of a solid, fixed barbell.

This helps alleviate any weight balance concerns – you know, when your dominant hand pulls just a little harder (and/or faster) than the weaker one.

So yeah, this machine lets you concentrate on your sumo deadlifts and not have to worry about stabilizing the barbell or balancing those weights anymore; this is especially helpful for  beginners.

How to do a Sumo Deadlift

Sumo deadlift is somehow different from the traditional deadlift

This is going to be a small guide that will assist you through the Sumo Deadlift process, mainly due to the fact that it’s much different when compared to the traditional variety.

This workout will help train your back, glutes, and legs - packing on lower body muscles and building a stronger back has never seemed so simple. All it takes is a deadlift bar, and a couple of clean and quality weights to turn you into a shredded monster!

The Deadlift

The deadlift is among the most effective workout you can do in the gym

The Deadlift is one of the most effective lifts you could do in the gym, and that’s because you have to pick everything up from what’s known as a “dead stop”.

Most other weight lifting techniques will have the weights off the ground, while the deadlift is one that will take everything you’ve got. It helps build muscle mass throughout your entire body, as it takes every ounce of strength to complete the lift (when you’re maxed out, of course).

It’s the perfect technique to use when you’re trying to improve upon your hip, core, back, grip, and lower body strength; it also helps with core and all-around muscle mass on top of that.

Basically, if you want to be a walking mountain of muscle, you’ll want to ensure that deadlifts are a major part of your routine! The main issue is that many people fail to learn proper deadlift form, which is something that we’re going to cover later on in this article.

It’s a physical and mental challenge that will make you a better person, but the Sumo Deadlift is one that tends to focus on your lower body more than anything else.

The Sumo Deadlift

Sumo deadlift differs from the conventional one in that your legs must be further apart

As opposed to standing straight up during your lift, you’ll have your legs spread a bit further apart while doing the Sumo Deadlift.

Your hips are much closer to the bar and you emphasize the use of your legs more than anything else, as that’s what Sumo wrestlers use to generate most of their power. All the work you've put in building those massive quads pays off, finally!

It’s quite uncommon to deadlift over 500+ regardless of how large you are, and anybody that can do that is likely in the top 10% of strongest people on the planet.

Although the lift itself is very challenging, going through it successfully can give you a euphoric sensation. There are times where I’m so pumped up after a successful lift that I genuinely feel high, and most of the time it’s after a massive Sumo Deadlift rep.

It’s a competition between you and the weights sitting in front of you, and there are times where I feel like backing down. Thankfully, daddy didn’t raise no punk! I’ll stand up to a Sumo Deadlift challenge any day of the week, regardless of how much my glutes ache.

Sumo Deadlift vs. Regular Deadlift

With a sumo deadlift your legs need to be spread a little wider than your hands
With a regular deadlift the legs are kind of tucked inside the hands

The conventional deadlift is one that will always be a fan favorite in the weight room, as it’s helped build some of the strongest people we’ve ever seen.

Even looking back in history, there are likely instances where older civilizations were accidentally doing deadlifts and had no clue - imagine some of the people who helped build those massive castles back spread! Talk about having a pair of wings, am I right?

Regardless, you’ll always be better off with Sumo Deadlift techniques when you’re trying to focus on building a stronger lower body. This is especially useful for professional athletes that play sports like basketball, football, baseball, or even soccer.

If you’ve got a child and want them to have hoop dreams, I strongly suggest you put them onto the Sumo Deadlift “hype train” early on. Of course, be keen to build them from the ground up, nice and easy.

Using the Sumo Deadlift technique is proven to put less stress on your back while doing the lifts, and will offer a decreased range of motion (which means there is a smaller chance for you to get injured on top of the other benefits).

The start of your lifts will be much harder than they would be with a traditional Deadlift. This is more likely to be the case  if your lower body is lacking in power at the moment - something you should get down to working on if you are serious about becoming a heavy-lifter.

Learning Proper Sumo Deadlift Form

When doing sumo deadlifts the form needs to be right

The prime moving components of your body while doing a Sumo Deadlift are:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstring Complex
  • Glutes

These are the three major muscle components that make up your legs (upper-lower body) and produce most of the power when jumping (whether for the fun of it, as a workout or as a sport) or sprinting. 

As a result, Sumo Deadlifts are perfect for building these muscles and becoming quicker on the field or court! There are several variations of Sumo Deadlift to consider as well, some of which would include:

  • Deficit Sumo Deadlift
  • Stance Sumo Deadlift
  • Block or Rack Pull Sumo Deadlift
  • Varied Grip Sumo Deadlift
  • Resistance Band Sumo Deadlift

And many, many more!

Almost any variation of deadlift that could be done with the traditional variety will be an option for Sumo Deadlift users, so be sure to keep that in mind.

Sumo deadlifts are a great way to build your quads and your lower body in general, if you struggle to do the sumo deadlifts maybe you should work on your arms first, exercises that can help with that include the seated tricep press, the military press, or the alternating dumbbell press.

Setting Up the Sumo Deadlift

Setting up in preparation for your lift is as crucial as the lift itself
Just like with any other workout you need to prepare well for your sumo deadlift

I always follow three steps before completing my Sumo Deadlift, and it’s sort of like a free throw routine at this point. I get set, bend myself at the hips, and grab onto the bar as if I were about to do a rep.

Make sure that your hands are directly beneath your shoulders and keep your hands spread across the bar evenly. You’re basically trying to “crush” the bar in your hands, as you don’t want to drop the weights because you weren’t holding on tight enough.

From here, you’ll keep your body tight and brace as if you were going to lift, but don’t. Let go of the bar and get yourself re-set, and from here we’ll jump into the actual act of conducting a Sumo Deadlift.

Setting Your Feet
The feet placement is just as crucial as the lift itself

Make sure that your feet are nearly touching the outside of the bar in between the gap (where you’ll be placing your hands). You can turn your feet out as much as you’d like to ensure that your knees are behind the bar when you squat down to grip the ground.

If you have issues with hip mobility, we strongly suggest doing hip flexibility workouts before doing any sort of deadlift, especially a Sumo Deadlift.

Grip the Ground
Dig your toes in to get the leverage needed for the lift

Create suction to the ground with your feet by leveraging your weight on the bar, spreading your toes as wide as possible, and getting the strongest grip you can.

The entire bottom side of your foot should be connecting with the ground, meaning all three components (heel, ball of foot, and outer edge) will all be helping you with the lift.

Lock these into the ground and clench your toes (try picturing a patriotic Bald Eagle!) and externally rotate your feet to create torque; it’s almost as if you’re trying to spin each foot in place.

This movement alone will flex your entire lower body! From your glutes down to the calves, you’re likely going to feel the tension all throughout your legs; you want to have that feeling, without any muscles feeling as if they aren’t engaged or loose.

This is the kind of torque/tension you’ll want to keep throughout the entire lift.

Brace Your Core and LIFT!
Engage your core to get the push to lift

Take in as much air as you can and hold it, as this will create a sort of “suction” in your abdomen that will be used to keep your spine stable throughout the lift.

There’s a reason why those meatheads in the gym preach “bracing” before a deadlift, and that’s because it will help avoid injuries and allow you to lift heavier (in a safe manner). Press your lips closed to keep the air in while you flex what feels like your entire body during the lift, and voila!

You’ve just done what we call the Valsalva Maneuver. Even if you have a lifting belt on, you’ll want to brace out against the belt while doing your Sumo Deadlift.

Can You Do a Sumo Deadlight on a Smith Machine?

Sumo deadlift can be done on a machine, you've just got to set the height right

Doing a Sumo Deadlift on a Smith Machine is quite simple, as all you’ve got to do is ensure that the machine is set to your proper hip height.

At this point, it’s merely a matter of positioning yourself properly on the machine and conducting your lift as usual. The best part about using a Smith Machine is that it makes dropping the bar and worrying about safety a straightforward process since the machine was designed with emergency stop features and plenty of other useful treats.

Does it mean I prefer them over the grit that comes with lifting regular, metal weights? Of course not, but I’m never going to say no to a set of Sumo Deadlifts on a Smith Machine (especially if it’s all I’ve got access to).

Are There Any Side Effects to Sumo Deadlifts?

Avoid overloading yourself with weights and maintain the right form to stay safe

If you don’t do any sort of Deadlift properly, you’re bound to hurt yourself. This is especially true if you’re trying to lift too much weight, in which case you need to be a bit more humble and realize how much you can deal with in the gym.

It’s more of an ego thing than anything else, but you can expect to deal with a few minor (and potential major) injuries if you aren’t cautious while doing your Sumo Deadlifts. The equipment matters as well; if your weights aren't properly secured, and the bar isn't up to snuff, then there's a good chance something will go wrong.

If you have bad knees or lack power in your lower body, we strongly suggest starting off slowly and wearing some sort of compression gear or knee brace to ease the load.

Building Muscle with the Sumo Deadlift

You can build a variety of muscles with sumo deadlifts

Building muscles is always going to be a thing when it comes to deadlifts, as they are the main reason why we’ve grown to love the different weight lifting techniques available in modern times.

Think about it, the most common lifting technique that we use in everyday life is the deadlift. We’re constantly picking up boxes and heavy items at work, and it’s a reason why you see those bulky (and usually muscular) men working at moving truck companies and such.

Building muscle using the Sumo Deadlift will of course help build a stronger and peachier-looking butt, but it will also make your biceps look more puffed out, build a larger back, stronger hips, and an all-around better body that you can truly be proud of.

The Best Machines to Use for Deadlifts

There are different sumo deadlift machines that you can go for

I've used and tested a lot of exercise and weight lifting equipment over the years, from hack squat machines to home gyms to a variety of the different squat rack types. So I had a bit of experience going into choosing the best smith machines on the market,

Best Bang for Buck Smith Machine (and the One I Own!)

If you are tight on budget, get yourself the Titan Smith Machine

The Titan Fitness Smith Machine is arguably the greatest invention I’ve ever owned. I’ve never felt better when doing Sumo Deadlifts than I have with this thing, and I would highly recommend this product to anybody that is sick and tired of doing things the “old-fashioned” way.

Although it’s probably going to be the priciest option available on this list, I personally guarantee that you won’t find a more reliable and durable option!

The price is about $1,499.99, but Titan offers up a monthly payment plan and allows people to own this particular Smith Machine for as little as $69.22 a month.

Most Affordable Smith Machine

The Marcy Pro Smith Machine is not just solid, it's also very affordable

I would say that the cheapest but highest quality Smith Machine that I’ve used in the past would be Marcy Pro Smith Machine Weight Bench (Total Body Workout Training System).

As you would expect with any other all-in-one workout machine, this particular Smith Machine is much more affordable but lacks in the quality department (when compared to the Titan Fitness Smith Machine at least). That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth considering though; I know there's someone out there who would kill to have it in their small home gym

This is the equivalent of Big Mac, which is just fine when all you want to do is get a meal in - while the Titan Fitness Smith Machine is more like a filet mignon.

Best Overall Quality Smith Machine

For top quality, get this Force USA G9 Sumo Deadlift Smith Machine

Take a look at the Force USA G9 All-In-One Trainer if you want something that’s going to confuse house guests, but allows you to get nearly every single workout you want in.

Coming in at a whopping $3,499, this Smith Machine is much more than just a Sumo Deadlift set - you can get your Sumo Deadlifts, Conventional Deadlifts, and any other kind of lift you could think of in when using this specific machine.

I’ve never used it personally, but I’ve got to say, I really wish I had! Maybe one day when my wife lets me splurge a little bit more.

Budget-Conscious Smith Machine

This Marcy Smith Machine Cage allows you do sumo deadlifts easily

If you don’t want to break the bank and spend a bunch of money on a genuine Smith Machine, you can always go for something like the Marcy Multifunctional Customizable Training Bench.

It offers more than one option to exercise with, and it still lets you get Sumo Deadlifts in with relative ease - the only problem is that the quality is going to suffer as a result of the price.

Then again, I’m probably just a snob, because this still costs around $3,200, although you might be able to find a cheaper version used somewhere else!

Commercial Gym Alternative Smith Machine

For the commercial gym owners out there, this one's for you

Commercial Smith Machines of this quality are hard to come across, other than in any major commercial gym. If you ever get a chance to purchase one of these machines for yourself, I would highly recommend it - I’ve never seen one in somebody’s home myself, but if I ever did, I would have to get a set in regardless of what I’m wearing.

Can you imagine busting out a full set of Sumo Deadlifts while wearing a tuxedo? Well, now I can.

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