Sumo squats are a lower body exercise that targets the muscles in the inner thighs, also known as the adductors, as well as the major muscles of the lower body including the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. They offer unique benefits compared to standard squats, as the wider stance of a sumo squat helps to challenge and strengthen the adductors.
In addition to targeting these muscles, sumo squats also increase activation in the adductors, which are responsible for helping the knees and hips extend, flex, and rotate. This can be especially beneficial for preventing injuries, as building overall strength in the lower body can help to evenly distribute the load on the joints. Sumo squats can be performed with or without any equipment and are suitable for people of all fitness levels.
An elevated sumo squat is a variation of the sumo squat exercise that involves performing the squat while standing on an elevated surface, such as a step or bench. This modification can increase the range of motion and difficulty of the exercise, targeting the muscles of the legs, hips, and buttocks more intensely.
Read on to understand not just the proper form for executing elevated sumo squats, but also the advantages of doing so, the muscle groups that are targeted, and the common mistakes to avoid when doing so, but first, here’s a brief overview of what exactly is an elevated sumo squat.
What Is Elevated Sumo Squat?
The elevated sumo squat, also known as the deficit sumo squat, is a variation of the standard sumo squat exercise in which the feet are elevated off the ground on weight plates, boxes, or steps. This allows for a deeper squat and increased ankle mobility, as well as a greater range of motion in the knees and hips.
The elevated sumo squat targets the same muscles as a regular sumo squat, including the adductors, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, but also puts additional tension on the calf muscles.
This exercise is typically performed with dumbbells and is designed to stimulate and activate the muscles more effectively. It is considered to be a compound exercise and can be a challenging way to train the thigh muscles.
How To Do Elevated Sumo Squat?
- Stand on two-weight plates or any other stable surface that is a few inches high.
- Keep your feet a little farther apart than shoulder-width apart, spread your weight evenly, and turn your toes out to 10 and 2 o’clock. (If it’s too narrow, it won’t work the adductors or hamstrings. If it’s too wide, the hip joint will get stuck at the bottom of the position.
- As you breathe in, keep your core tight and your chest up. Bend your knees and lower your hips until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Depth is different for each person, so go as deep as you can.
- As you push through your feet to get back to a standing position, let out your breath.
Muscles Worked By Elevated Sumo Squat
Performing sumo squats can target several muscle groups in the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, adductors (inner thighs), calves, and hip flexors. This exercise can also engage the core muscles, such as the transverse abdominis, erector spinae, obliques, and multifidus, when done with proper form.
Research has shown that sumo squats may be particularly effective at activating the vastus lateralis (lateral quadriceps) and adductor longus (inner thigh) muscles compared to other types of squats.
The elevated sumo squat works:
The thigh muscles, particularly the quadriceps, are the primary muscles targeted by elevated sumo squats. These muscles stretch and contract with each bend of the knee, and the degree of pressure on them increases with the depth of the squat. This exercise is designed to provide a comprehensive stretch to the quadriceps muscles.
The gluteal muscles, also known as the glutes, are a group of muscles that help to stabilize the upper body and are primarily responsible for hip extension. They are heavily engaged during sumo squats, especially when the hips are flexed back and down during the squatting motion. The deeper the squat, the greater the activation of the glutes. The elevated sumo squat, in which the feet are elevated off the ground, allows for an increased range of motion and can help to further target and engage the glutes muscles.
The hip flexor muscles are a group of muscles that are essential for proper form and technique when performing squats. They are responsible for flexing the hips and helping to maintain balance in the body. If you experience problems with your hip flexor muscles, it may affect your ability to perform squats and other exercises that involve hip flexion. Proper stretching and strengthening of the hip flexors can help to ensure proper movement and stability during exercise.
The hamstrings are a group of muscles that are located at the back of the thigh and are involved in movements such as bending the knees and extending the hips. They are often targeted during exercises that involve these movements, including sumo squats. Squats can be especially beneficial for strengthening the hamstrings, as they are a common site of injury. By performing squats with proper form and technique, you can help to strengthen and protect your hamstrings, as well as improve your overall lower body strength and stability.
The calf muscles, or gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, are located in the lower leg and are responsible for plantarflexion, or pointing the toes downward. During elevated sumo squats, these muscles can be targeted by raising the heels, which causes contraction and extension of the calves. This can help to keep the calf muscles tense and engaged throughout the exercise.
What Are The Benefits Of Elevated Sumo Squats?
Increases glute activation
Elevated sumo squats are an excellent way to strengthen this important muscle group. By lifting your heels, you can squat deeper, which stretches and strengthens the glutes.
Lesser ankle mobility required
A wide stance makes squatting more bearable because they reduce the amount of ankle motion required. While squatting, a narrow stance can cause you to lean forward, which is bad for your back. On the other hand, a wide stance helps you keep your shins parallel to the floor throughout the set.
Higher power output
One study found that a wider posture allowed its practitioner to project roughly 30–35% more force than an equivalently narrow one. You can squat more weight with the help of the elevated sumo squat.
Activates the adductor muscles
Muscles in the inner thighs (adductor longus) are targeted by the position’s broad leg separation and foot incline, making for a more effective workout.
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Doing Elevated Sumo Squats
If you want to get the most out of your elevated sumo squat exercises, there are a few mistakes you should try to avoid. When you make a mistake, it either delays the onset of results or demotivates you to keep going, and either way, you lose.
Incomplete range of motion
It is important to go deep enough during a squat exercise to fully stretch and engage the muscles being targeted. Half squats, in which you only go down halfway and then return to the standing position, can limit the amount of stretch and activation in the muscles, particularly in the thighs.
To ensure that you are fully stretching and activating the muscles, aim to reach at least a 90-degree angle at the knees during a squat. If you want to specifically target the glutes, you will need to go even deeper than that, reaching a position in which the thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly lower. It is important to pay attention to your form and make sure that you are maintaining proper alignment and technique as you go deeper.
Arching the back
Maintaining proper posture and form is crucial for ensuring that you are effectively targeting the intended muscles and minimizing the risk of injury during exercises such as elevated sumo squats. It is important to keep your back straight and neutral at all times, rather than allowing it to arch or round. This helps to prevent strain on the spine and can help to reduce the risk of pain after exercise.
Toes Pointing Straight Ahead
This is a common mistake that contributes to knee injuries in some individuals. If you want to do elevated sumo squats without getting squished, it’s a good idea to keep your toes pointing out a bit.
There’s a reason squats are heralded as the ultimate lower-body exercise. Variations on the squat, such as high bar/low bar squats, Zercher squats, Box squats, Bulgarian split squats, Cossack squats, elevated Goblet squats, Smith machine squats, and elevated sumo squats, allow you to effectively target different muscle groups in your legs.
The elevated sumo squat is an effective exercise for building strength and muscle in the lower body, including the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and inner thighs. By adopting a wider stance and turning the toes out slightly, the sumo squat can also help to target the inner thighs and improve balance and stability.
Incorporating this exercise into your workout routine can help to prevent hip injuries from other physical activities by strengthening the inner thighs, which can help to stabilize the hips and support the body during movement. However, it is important to use proper form and listen to your body to avoid injury, and to consult with a healthcare professional or fitness trainer if you have any concerns about your ability to perform the exercise.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.