The Sumo Dumbbell Squat Adds a New Element to Your Leg Day

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AS JUST ABOUT any exerciser that has stepped into a weight room can tell you, the squat is an absolutely essential leg day exercise. The squat is a basic movement pattern, and it’s a versatile one. The first image that pops into your head when you think about squats might feature a rack, weight plates, and a barbell loaded high up on your back, but that’s far from the only way you can add a load to challenge your muscles to stimulate growth and build lower body strength. You can use dumbbells, too (and kettlebells, sandbags, landmines, Bulgarian bags, the list goes on). More specifically, you can widen out your stance from the traditional position to do the dumbbell sumo squat, a key variation that can give you different range of benefits.

The dumbbell sumo squat is a great exercise if you’re trying to get that weight off your shoulders while still squatting with a load. This can be especially important if you’ve experienced any back pain or you’ve struggled with injuries, since the the load is no longer on your spine. That’s true of all squat variations that ditch the barbell—but the dumbbell sumo squat offers even more variety given the shift in stance.

By widening your feet out into the sumo position (feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes facing out), you’ll put more focus onto your adductors, increase the engagement of your quads, and force yourself to work with a more upright torso position, which can help to ease up on your lower back. You’re also cutting down some of your range of motion by lengthening your levers, so you won’t have to squat down as deep. All the while, you’re still working your glutes (especially if you emphasize the eccentric portion of the movement), honing hip mobility, and keeping your core engaged as you hold the weight.

Benefits of the Dumbbell Sumo Squat

●Shift the position weight away from your spine (from a back squat)

●Upright posture decreases stress on the back

●Helps to develop hip mobility

●Engage the quads and adductor muscles more than other squats

●Shorter range of motion

●Easy to load

Muscles Worked By the Dumbbell Sumo Squat




●Hip flexors

How to Do the Dumbbell Sumo Squat

●Hold the dumbbell at waist height

●Keep your weight on your heels

●Flare your feet out slightly

●Start the movement with a slight forward lean. Maintain that throughout.

●Push your butt back, then bend at the knees to squat down.

●Lower until you hit parallel (meaning, your thighs are parallel to the floor). Due to the position of the load and the upright torso posture, this is not a movement where you should be aiming to hit a lower depth.

●Push off the floor to stand back up. Maintain the forward tilt in the torso until you’ve finished all reps.

The 4-3-1 Dumbbell Sumo Squat

preview for 4-3-1 Dumbbell Sumo Squat

This extended time under tension drill from trainer Bret Contreras, who specializes in glute development, is a great way to spur new muscle growth while using lighter loads than normal. And it’s particularly challenging to hold that bottom position with your hips fully flexed and your glutes fully stretched.

To take on the exercise, just tweak the tempo of the movement.

You’ll slow down the eccentric (lowering) portion to take 4 seconds, pause for 3 seconds at the bottom, and come right back up in 1 second. This means each rep will last at least 7 seconds, which is 2 or 3 times longer than the speed of movement most people use in the gym. Contreras recommends adding it to your leg day workout by doing 3 sets of 5 to 6 reps, with about a minute rest between sets.

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