There are so many different types of deadlifts you can do. One of the popular ones is the sumo deadlift where you place both feet widely apart and perform the exercise.

Sumo deadlift is difficult if you compare it with conventional deadlifts because your inner thighs should be flexible enough to get into the wider stance position. Most of you will not have enough leg mobility to sit deeper into that sumo deadlift position.

However, there are so many other alternative options you have if you don’t want or are unable to do sumos. Then this article will be very helpful for you.

In this article, I have shared some of the best sumo deadlift alternatives that target the same muscles and will give you similar results that you would get from sumo deadlift. Most of these exercises are easier than sumo. So you must try them if you haven’t before.

Muscles Worked During Sumo Deadlift

Sumo deadlift Is one of the most effective exercises for your legs and back muscles. It primarily engages quads, hamstrings, glutes, erector spinae, and lower back.

Along with that, some secondary muscles like abs and trapezius muscles also engage and act as stabilizer muscles. These muscles help to keep your body stable and strong.

One of the studies also showed that sumo deadlift engages vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and tibialis anterior more compared to the conventional deadlift. All of these muscles are the main muscles of your legs. So deadlift is not just for your back but also to strengthen your leg muscles.

Sumo Deadlift Alternatives

1. Romanian Deadlift

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The Romanian deadlift is one of the most famous forms of deadlift to target the hamstring muscles. This exercise is usually performed by athletes and many bodybuilders who want to strengthen their hamstrings. You can do this as an alternative to the sumo deadlift if sumos are difficult for you.

Targeted muscles – Glutes, hamstrings, and quads

How to do

1. Stand with both feet at about hip-width apart. keep both feet under the bar.

2. Reach down to grab the bar by bringing your hips back and keeping your back flat.There should be only a slight bend in the knees to keep the tension and stress on the hamstrings.

3.Stop at the bottom when you touch the bar and maintain that position. Hold the bar with an overhand grip or a mixed grip (if you lift heavy). This will be your starting position.

4. Start the exercise by pulling the bar up with the help of your legs and back muscles. You should press down with your feet and generate force from the floor while lifting the weights.

5. Stop at the top and then bring the bar down again while keeping the bar close to your body. Stop at the bottom when the bar reaches above knee level.

6. Pull the bar up from the bottom position.Keep tension on the hamstrings.

You can also do this exercise with dumbbells. Just make sure to keep your back flat and drive your hips back as you move.

2. Bulgarian Split Squats

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Bulgarian split squat is another awesome exercise you should be doing to target the glutes and overall legs. This is a unilateral exercise like a lunge where you can focus on each part of the leg separately. You should do this with a proper form and technique to get the best results.

Targeted muscles – Glutes, hamstrings, and quads

How to do

1. Hold two dumbbells and stand in front of the bench. Place one foot on the bench and the other on the floor.

2. Take a bigger step from the bench so that you can target the glutes and hamstrings. Then lean slightly forward. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by lowering the body while bending the knees. Keep the tension on the glutes as you go down.

4. Stop at the bottom when your knees are at a 90° angle. Then push the floor with your feet to return to the starting position.

Make sure that as you go down, your knee should not come outside the toe. This will put less stress on your knee joint. Also, do this exercise with proper focus and concentration for better results.

3. Hip Thrust

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The hip thrust is one of the best exercises to strengthen the posterior chain muscles. This exercise specifically targets the glutes and hamstrings.

Many people have weak glutes and hamstrings and due to this, whenever they do any heavy squats or lunges, they hurt their knees. This is because their hamstrings and glutes are not strong enough to contribute during squats. This puts an extra load on the quads and thus more load on your knees.

Therefore you must have a strong posterior chain if you want to stay away from injuries. So doing exercises like hip thrust is a great way to build stronger glutes and hams just like sumo deadlifts.

Targeted muscles – Glutes, hamstrings, and lower back

How to do

1. Place the barbell on the lower part of your abdomen. Hold the bar and then lay on the bench with your shoulder and upper back on the bench.

2. Keep your knees bent at about 90° angle. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by moving your hips upward. Bring your hips up until the glutes are squeezed at max. Your knee should point out as you move.

4. Stop at the top and squeeze your hips. Pause at the top for a second and then slowly bring your body back to the starting position.

You can also do this exercise without a barbell as it is a difficult exercise, especially for beginners. You should be able to do at least 15 reps easily with bodyweight, before trying with a barbell.

4. Single Leg RDL

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You must have done Romanian deadlifts in the past but I think most of you have not done it with a single leg. Romanian deadlift with a single leg puts extra focus on one side.

So if your one leg is weaker than the other or if you don’t have a good mind and muscle connection developed in one side of the leg, then you should do this exercise.

Targeted muscles – Glutes, hamstrings, and lower back

How to do

1 Stand straight while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Now move your one foot back. This will be your starting position.

2. Start the exercise by moving your hands down while keeping your back straight. Keep most of the load on your front leg. Use the back leg just for balance.

3. Go down while keeping a slight bend in the knees. Stop at the bottom when your knees start bending too much and you start losing mobility from your hamstrings.

4. Push the floor with your leg and then return to the starting position. Switch your legs and then repeat.

You can also do this exercise by placing the other leg on the bench. Make sure that you squeeze your glutes at the top. This exercise is for both glutes and hamstrings so you must focus on those muscles when you do the exercise.

5. Lunges

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If you have been working out for a while, then you must be knowing about lunges. It is one of the best exercises you can do for your legs and core. It not only strengthens the core but also the stabilizer muscles which helps you in muscle coordination and athletic performance. This will be a great alternative to sumo deadlift as it targets the legs and also engages the back muscles.

Targeted muscles- quads, glutes, and hamstrings

How to do

1. Stand straight with both feet at shoulder-width apart. You can hold dumbbells if bodyweight is easier for you.

2. Start the exercise by stepping one foot forward and then lunging forward until the other knee touches the floor.

3. Pause at the bottom and then start pushing the floor with your front foot to bring your body up.

4. Keep your back flat and look straight as you move up. Then continue the exercise with the other foot.

This exercise can also be done with a barbell. However, it will be difficult to balance the bar especially if you are a beginner. Though you can try it if normal lunges are easy for you.

6. Kettlebell Swings

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The kettlebell swing is another great exercise you can do at home. This will help you in strengthening your glutes and hamstrings and is a great alternative to the sumo deadlift. All you need is a kettlebell here.

If you are an athlete or you play any sport, this exercise is very helpful in improving the power and speed of your lower body. Most of the sports you play will require you to bend, jump run and drift. And for that, you need to develop a great technique and strength to perform the movement effectively without injury. So this exercise will help you to perform better in the field.

Targeted muscles – Glutes, hamstrings, and lower back

How to do

1. Grab the handle of the kettlebell with both hands and stand straight with both feet wider than the shoulder width. Keep your hands down. This will be your starting position.

2. Start by bending with your knees and bringing your hips back as you go down. Don’t bring your knees in front of the toes. Keep it back always.

3. Keep your chest up and back tight and stop at the bottom when your hamstrings are stretched at max. The kettlebell should move back instead of going straight down.

4. From the downward position do a hip hinge movement by powerfully swinging the kettlebell up and driving your hips forward at the same time.

5. Extend your hips completely at the top and squeeze your glutes. Then repeat the movement.

You can go heavy on this but make sure that your lower back is used less. There is a tendency of putting extra tension on the lower back instead of the glutes during this exercise. So always start with light weights and try to learn the form properly.

Once you master the form and you can feel your glutes working well. Then you can try with a heavy kettlebell. Never compromise your form for the safe of lifting heavy. Or else you can injure yourself.

7. Box Squats

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Box squat is another awesome exercise that you can do in place of sumo deadlift. Many people find it difficult to maintain a proper form during the bottom half movement of squats. This exercise will teach you how to stay upright as you hinge from the bottom.

Targeted muscles– quads, glutes, and hamstrings

How to do

1. Get under the bar and place the bar on the upper back. Stand at a shoulder-width stance. Keep a bench or box behind you.

2. Rack the weights and stand straight with the bar on your back. Look straight; this will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by hinging back your glutes and going down while keeping your chest up.

4. Now sit on the box while maintaining the same position and pause for a second.

5. Now use your glutes and legs to bring your body up and back to the starting position.

Make sure that you keep your chest up all the time. Don’t bend your back when you go up from the bottom position.

8. Dead Row

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The dead row is another great compound exercise that you can do in place of the sumo deadlift. A “dead row” is a combination of a deadlift and a row. This exercise will work the entire back muscles and the legs. This exercise is good for athletes who want to improve their strength and performance.

Targeted muscles- lats, rhomboids, abs, and lower back

How to do

1. Stand under the bar with both feet at about shoulder-width apart. Go down by moving your hips back and keeping your chest up.

2. Grab a bar at about shoulder-width apart. Look straight while keeping your back flat. This will be your starting position.

3. Lift the bar by pushing your feet to the ground. Bring it towards the knee level.

4. From the knee level, start pulling the bar towards the abdomen. Squeeze your lats as you pull.

5. Bring the bar back to the knee level and then descend. Return to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended reps – 8-10

You can go heavy on this, but make sure that your lower back doesn’t arch. You should not feel too much stress on your lower back during this exercise.

9. Goodmornings With Resistance Band

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Good mornings are another great exercise to strengthen the entire posterior chain. You can do this with a barbell, but it might not be safe for beginners or people with lower back pain to do this with a bar. Therefore, you can try it with a resistance band. You can do this even at home or any other place.

Targeted muscles – Glutes, hamstrings, and lower back

How to do

1 Take a resistance band and stand on the band while holding the bar with your hands.

2. Roll the band onto your upper back and hold the bar while keeping your hands up to the side just like in the above video. Keep your chest up and look straight. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by moving your hips back and going down while keeping your chest up. Your knees should be slightly bent.

4. Stop until you reach a position where your hamstrings are at their maximum stretch. Then slowly return to the starting position by generating force from your hips.

Recommended reps – 10-12

This is a hip hinge movement similar to a sumo deadlift. You can also use a barbell if you want. Make sure that you have less stress on the lower back and more on your glutes and hams. Your lower back should not be the prime mover.

10. Paused Sumo Leg Press

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The paused sumo leg press is an amazing exercise you can add to your workout program. This is a more advanced version of the leg press. Here, you pause for a second at the bottom to put extra tension on the legs. This can be used by powerlifters who want to focus on improving their depth in squats.

This exercise will target the vastus lateralis and other leg muscles in a similar way to sumo deadlifts. So try this next time you lie on the leg press machine.

Targeted muscles – Glutes, hamstrings, and quads

How to do

1. Keep both feet at the top side of the leg press platform and keep your toes pointing out. Sit straight and unrack the weights.

2. Start the exercise by bringing the weights down slowly while breathing in on the way. Keep your knees pointing out.

3. Pause at the bottom for 2-3 seconds and then push the weights up at a faster pace. Bring the legs back to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended reps – 10-12

If you are a beginner, then stick with the basic leg press exercise and don’t add too much variation to it. Once you develop reasonable strength and build a solid base, then go for this exercise.

11. Side Single-leg Leg Press

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If you want to train your glutes and hamstrings uniquely, then try this move! It’s not just for women, all you men can also do this. Also, most men have weak glutes and hams, but big and thick quads. So we need to balance it out. You can add this as an alternative to sumo deadlift

Targeted muscles – Glutes, hamstrings, and quads

How to do

1. Lay down on the leg press machine. Tilt your pelvis to one side and place one foot on the middle of the platform.

2. Place your foot at about 45° angle, with your knees facing in. This will be your starting position.

3. Start by bringing the weights down with your knees moving inward. You should feel the stretch on your outer quads and hamstrings.

4. Stop at the bottom and then push the platform up to return to the starting position.

You can also do this exercise by completely moving your body to the side while keeping your foot on the platform. This will give room for more range of motion.

12. Cable Pull Through

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Another great exercise for your back and legs. This is similar to kettlebell swings. Cables will put more focus on isolating your glutes and hamstrings. The movement pattern of cable pull-through is similar to sumo deadlift. Just make sure to keep your stance wider.

Targeted muscles – Glutes, hamstrings, and lower back

How to do

1. Attach a rope at the bottom of a cable machine and stand with your back facing the cable machine. Keep your stance wider than the shoulder width.

2. Bend down and hold the ropes and come forward until the weights are resisting the arms.

3. Now stand straight with your hands straight down while holding the ropes. This will be your starting position.

4. Now start taking your hands back behind the body by bending your back. Your knee should be slightly bent and your hips should go back.

5. Return to the starting position by bringing your body up. You should use your glutes to get back up and not your hands. Your hands should just hold the ropes.

Recommended reps – 12-20 reps

You have to squeeze your glutes and make them a dominating muscle during this exercise. Otherwise, your lower back will work the most. So always contract your glutes at the top.

Final Words

So these were some of the best alternatives to sumo deadlift. All of these exercises are much easier compared to sumo deadlift. Also, these exercises are compound movements that will help you in building size and strength. So all those athletes should try these exercises.

Make sure that you gain enough knowledge before designing your workout program because training is a very complex process and you can easily make mistakes if you don’t have a professional trainer with you. So always choose the right professional trainer who can guide you in the right way.

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