Sumo squats are made for sumo wrestlers, right? Nope, this squat variation has some serious lower bod benefits for everyone, no wrestling ring or even any equipment required.
Sumo squats offer unique benefits that a standard squat does not. The sumo is able to recruit smaller muscles that help shape and tighten the legs, while also engaging the heavy hitters of your lower body—glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
In addition to targeting the major lower-body muscles, like the basic air squat, sumo squats specifically increase activation in your adductors. These muscles run along your inner thigh and are responsible for helping your knees and hips extend, flex, and rotate, explains Alena Luciani CSCS, creator of Training2XL. “It’s so important to build that overall strength in your lower-body, because a lot of injuries happen when [muscles] are more dominant in one area and the joint is overloaded,” she says.
Meet the experts: John Calarco, CSCS, is a trainer and owner of Power Health and Performance in Harrison, NY. He also holds a degree in exercise physiology from Adelphi University. Alena Luciani CSCS, is a trainer and creator of Training2XL, where she works with NHL, CFL, NCAA, OHL, and USports teams, players, and coaches.
So…are sumo squats better than regular squats? The short answer is no. “They aren’t better, just different,” says Luciani. The adductors tend to be weak in the average human, she adds, so sumo squats provide a boost and slightly different stimulus to strengthen that area. That’s just one of the many benefits of squatting in a wide stance. Here’s everything to know about sumo
How To Do A Sumo Squat
While this move can be done with bodyweight or added resistance using a kettlebell or dumbbell, you want to make sure your form is spot on to reap the legs for days benefits. What’s more, practicing good form protects your knees, hips, and ankles.
Find your stance sweet spot: Start with feet just wider than hip-width apart. Using no weight, see how it feels to squat with your feet out a little, then out a little more, and so on, until you can feel a stretch in your inner thigh without compromising your form, per Calarco.
Benefits Of Sumo Squats
Sumo squats are a great move to add into your workout rotation and are key for stacking up strength—in all parts of your lower-body. Your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and adductors will thank you (and probably be a little sore).
Here are the big benefits you can expect when you add sumo squats to your workout routine.
How To Add Sumo Squats to Your Workout
If you’re trying to strengthen and grow your lower-body muscles, work the sumo squat in two to three times a week, Calarco advises. It’s best incorporated into a strength workout. “You want to pair the sumo squat with movements that don’t fatigue the lower body any further so that you don’t take away from the sumo squat itself,” Calarco says.
Remember to always warm-up before you start. If you’re adding additional weight, make sure you first do a few bodyweight reps to get loose and activate the muscles, says Luciani.
If you are sticking to bodyweight squats, Luciani recommends aiming for three sets of 10 reps.
What about adding extra weight to sumo squats? If you have strength trained in the past, a good general rule of thumb is adding 15 to 25 pounds, says Luciani. “When it comes to increasing the load or adding weight, I like to use the two-rep rule,” says Luciani. “You want to find a weight where the last two reps of the set are challenging.” She explains that working out at a resistance where you feel the burn is going to challenge the body and build strength.
Common Sumo Squat Mistakes To Avoid
Sumo Squat Variations And Progressions To Try
If you feel strong and you’re ready to level up, try one of these progressions. As long as you can keep your form in tip top shape, you’re good to go for the challenge. Say it with me… knees in line with toes, core tight, chest tall.