How to Do a Sumo Squat

By Lisa M. Wolfe

Sumo squats, also known as wide-leg squats, strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and hips. The wide-leg position offers a variation for traditional squats. Sumo squats are performed without weights if you're a beginner and with different types of resistance -- including kettlebells, dumbbells and barbells -- as your strength improves. Other versions on the sumo squats add to the intensity, such as performing them with a hop or forward and backward movement.

Leg Strength

Sumo squats belong in the leg-strengthening portion of your workout sessions. Use them as a substitute for or in addition to lunges, leg presses or traditional squats. Select a resistance load that creates muscular fatigue within 10 to 12 repetitions. Aim to complete one to three sets of your chosen sumo squat version. Allow for one or two days of rest between sumo squat workout sessions. Always warm your legs before squatting. Do this with five minutes of light cardiovascular exercises such as walking or cycling.

Squats Without Weights

Perform sumo squats without additional resistance to learn proper form and to build leg strength. Stand with your feet approximately 24 to 36 inches apart. Position your feet wider than your hips with your toes and knees facing forward. Keep your head up and your spine lengthened so there is no curve in your back. Place your arms at your sides or bring your hands in front of your chest to assist with balance. Inhale, bend your knees and lower your hips behind you to a comfortable depth or until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Prevent your knees from moving forward beyond your toes. Exhale, press your heels onto the floor and straighten your legs to the starting position. Repeat 10 or 12 times.

Added Resistance

Add resistance to your sumo squats in the form of a kettlebell, dumbbells or a barbell. When using a kettlebell, hold onto the handle with your arms straight down your torso so the bell is between your legs. Bend your knees and lower until the bottom of the bell touches the floor, but only if that does not cause discomfort in your knees, hips or back. Limit the depth of the squat if you feel pain in those areas. If you require a deeper range of motion, stand with each foot on a 3-to-6-inch-high aerobic step. When using a dumbbell, hold onto the weight underneath the head of the dumbbell so your other hand hangs toward the floor. Use the same range of motion guidelines suggested for the kettlebell. You can also use a barbell or a Smith machine and place the bar across your upper back. Hold onto the bar with both hands as you perform sumo squats.

Added Movement

As your strength improves and three sets of 12 sumo squats no longer create muscular fatigue, add variation to your sumo squats in the form of upward, forward or backward movement. Jump your feet slightly off the floor at the top of your squats. Quickly land and immediately perform another squat. Try this without additional resistance first before you hold onto a kettlebell or dumbbell. Move your feet forward and backward for another sumo squat version. For example, perform one sumo squat facing forward and then pick up your right foot and pivot on your left foot until you are facing the back of the room. Set down your right foot approximately 24 to 36 inches from your left foot and perform a squat. You can either reverse the motion, lift your right foot and pivot backward to the starting position or continue to pivot forward to the starting position. Complete the same amount of sumo squats pivoting on your right foot.

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