Sumo Squats: Muscles Worked & Benefits

Sumo Squats: Muscles Worked & Benefits

Most exercise programs have a dedicated day to train legs.

For the most part, leg day is something people either love or hate. For me, I'm not the biggest fan.

However you feel about it though, your legs are half your body! They also house some of the biggest muscles in your body.

From the waist down, there are over 26 muscles, all of which should be trained. These are muscles such as your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.

Most leg day exercises will target these muscles. For example, the traditional squat can engage every one of these muscles.

However, squats are far from your only option when it comes to leg day exercises. There are also several different variations of the squat you can do to strengthen your legs.

One of my personal favorites is sumo squats. If you don't know what they are, you will learn today!

Sumo squats can be a great exercise to add to your leg day. But, what exactly are sumo squats?

What Are Sumo Squats? 

Sumo squats are a variation of the traditional squat. In a sumo squat though, you take a wider stance and turn your feet out more.

Like a normal squat, they are still an excellent lower body exercise. The biggest difference with sumo squats is that it targets your inner thigh muscles more. These muscles are known as your adductors.

They can be a great option to add to your leg day in place of normal squats, or in addition to them!

Muscles Worked In Sumo Squats 

Like I said, sumo squats do a good job of getting your adductor muscles engaged. Your adductors are in charge of 3 main things:

1. Holding/pulling your thighs together

2. Rotating your legs inward

3. Stabilizing your hips

But your adductors are far from the only muscle involved in a sumo squat. Sumo squats also engage the same muscles a traditional squat does. These are muscles like your:

• Quadriceps
• Glutes 
• Hips 
• Hamstrings

How To Perform Sumo Squats

If you're looking to switch up your leg days and add sumo squats to your routine, I'm sure it would help to know how to do them! The beauty of sumo squats is there are a lot of different pieces of equipment you can use for them.

You can do them on an assisted squat machine, with a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, and more.

I normally use a heavy kettlebell. I say this because oftentimes, It can be hard to get your own barbell at the gym. On top of that, It's a little friendlier to someone who is new to the movement.

Before you move into using a barbell, I'd recommend starting here. It can help you build confidence with the widened stance, and I think it can be easier to perform the exercise.

I'll explain how to use a kettlebell or dumbbell, then move into the barbell version after:

1. Grab a kettlebell or dumbbell and place it on the ground in front of you. Set yourself up as if you're about to do a squat with your feet shoulder width apart and toes forward.

2. One at a time, take an additional step out to each side to have a wider base of support between your feet. From here, make sure to point your toes outward by externally rotating your hips about 45 degrees.

3. Grab the kettlebell or dumbbell, holding it with both hands. Allow your arms to fall straight in front of you, leaving the weight at roughly the height of your waist.

4. Brace your legs, core, and glutes as you begin lowering your body down, bending at the hips, knees, and ankles. Keep your chest upright, core tight, and back straight as you lower yourself into the squat.

5. Once your thighs are parallel with the floor, or you're as low as you can comfortably go, pause.

6. From here, push through your legs and squeeze your glutes to explode back upward to the starting position.

7. Repeat this for as many reps as you'd like!

With a barbell, you'll repeat a lot of this process the exact same way. However, you'll need to start by finding a squat rack, and loading the bar at roughly chest height.

Bend your knees to step under the bar and rest it on top of your traps or upper back. Next, unbend your knees to bring the bar off the rack and take a few small steps backward.

Space your feet hip-width apart before slowly stepping out to either side and rotating your feet outward. From here, the sumo squat will be done the same way!

Benefits of Sumo Squats

Sumo squats can be a beneficial exercise to add to your leg workouts for many reasons. Above all else, they can be a lot more accessible from an equipment standpoint.

When there aren't any squat racks open at the gym, you can just grab a dumbbell or kettlebell and get to work. They can also be great if you're not at the gym!

At the lake? Sumo squats. 

At home? Sumo squats. 

At the Eiffel Tower? Sumo squats.

But, all jokes aside, they can also be helpful in a few more ways.

Sumo Squats Can Help Improve Lower Body Strength 

Everybody knows that squats in general are great for improving leg strength. The same can be said about sumo squats!

Part of this can include improving your strength through a greater range of motion. Part of this can include helping to improve your balance in different positions.

Either way, sumo squats are an excellent strength and muscle building exercise for your legs.

Sumo Squats Can Help Improve Core Strength

Yes, I know what you might be thinking. Aren't sumo squats a leg workout? Yes, primarily they are. However, sumo squats don't just work your legs.

Your core is engaged because you have to keep your body upright. When done properly, sumo squats require a lot of core engagement to accomplish this. With a dumbbell or kettlebell, sumo squats can also engage your lats.

This is because you'll have to pull your shoulders down and back with your lats to keep your body and the weight upright. For this reason, sumo squats can engage, and be good for, more than just your legs alone.

Sumo Squats Can Help Improve Body Composition 

Resistance training in general is a great option for improving body composition. By enhancing lean muscle tissue, your body can burn more calories at rest.

Well, sumo squats utilize quite a few different muscles. That's why they can be great for improving overall body composition.

Assuming your nutrition is on point, you can see great results by adding them to your exercise regimen.

Common Mistakes With Sumo Squats 

Before you get after the sumo squats, it can be helpful to know what to avoid. Like any other exercise, there are some common mistakes many people can make.

Trust me, when I first got started lifting weights, I ran into this issue frequently. Take these mistakes into consideration. Doing sumo squats the right way is the best way to reap the benefits for your health and fitness goals.

Bad Knee And Leg Form 

With any kind of squat, a common mistake is allowing the knees to cave inward. This can put a lot of pressure on the knee joint. So, try to stay conscious of this as you're squatting down in a sumo squat.

One coaching point that I like to share with squats is to squat with your knees over your toes. If your knees and toes stay aligned, you can be confident you're avoiding this mistake.

Low Back Positioning

One more common mistake I see in sumo squats has to do with the low back. As you squat down with the weight, make sure you aren't rounding your back.

Instead, brace your core, keep your chest upright, and pull your shoulders down and back. This can help encourage your spine to stay aligned to alleviate pressure from your lower back. Sometimes, this means you'll have to lower the weight until you're strong enough to do sumo squats without this issue.

One Last Tip With Sumo Squats 

Sumo squats are a fantastic addition to any leg day routine. They are truly an exercise that can help build strength, add variety, and improve the work you get out of your adductors. 

However, they can be a challenging exercise if you are not familiar with them. That's why I recommend starting with a kettlebell or dumbbell and working from there.

If you feel comfortable and you've been lifting weights for some time, by all means, give it a go!

Now, obviously sumo squats are only one exercise. If you're looking to see results with your training, it's going to take a lot more.

Workouts aren't the only thing you have to focus on either. For the best results possible, your nutrition is going to be crucial.

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