Sumo Mobility

Discussion in 'Barbell' started by Geoff Chafe, May 23, 2019.

  1. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I am learning Sumo Deadlift.

    I have narrowed my stance to accommodate my flexibility.

    I am going to implement the Frog Stretch series from Flexible Steel to start with.

    What drills or stretches help your Sumo stance?

    Sumo Goblet Squat?
  2. Antti

    Antti More than 2500 posts

    Wide stance squats worked for me. I think frequency was key, load was not. Sure, makes sense to use a kettlebell if it helps, but I found just bodyweight squats with long times prying in the hole worked wonders.

    The frog stretch is not bad either. But to me the squats did a better job.

    I think sufficiently deep and relatively wide barbell back squats help as well, there is a great synergy. I have managed to keep my mobility and sumo strength without serious practice once I got it, so to say, and even improve on it out of the blue, just with carryover from other lifts and with certain improvements in form purely from the mental side and not so much practice.
  3. Philippe Geoffrion

    Philippe Geoffrion More than 500 posts

    The prying squat from Deadlift Dynamite is a good one, basically a goblet squat where you try to spread the floor (like a sumo) and "pull the hips out of the sockets" so to speak. Renegade lunges may also open up the hips as well.

    Are you going to Sumo for any specific reason? I pull sumo but very narrow, legs right outside arms, and have no desire to go plate to plate in stance width. Coan pulled a pretty narrow sumo as well. I suppose the advantage of going wider is to shorten the distance of the lift, however, I found I have absolutely no power in this position, which is probably because I haven't yet had any desire to practice there. However, if you wish to do so, you could raise the barbell up in a rack or blocks and practice a wider stance from the easier position and gradually lower it over time as your flexibility improves.
  4. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    The Sumo Goblet Squat helps for sure. My Two Hand Swings have been wider also. More like a double bell swing. Maybe I should try those.

    I have never really squatted wide stance. I always squatted very Olympic style. When I add in barbell squats again and wide stance squatting is definitely under consideration.
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
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  5. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I had never heard of Renegade Lunges. I was considering Cossiac Squats. I really like the mobility benefits of those. They could help with Sumo specific flexibility.

    The reason I chose Sumo is because I have never given it a fair test and if I have to start over again it’s a learning opportunity. I think Sumo would really help odd objects like stones and sandbags as the arms are inside the legs and you are forced into a wider stance.

    I am still fairly wide with toes about 4” from the plates. I started wider and worked my way in to a width that felt doable.

    I am sure Coan’s stance was narrow because he has very short legs. Not my body type at all.

    It seems like the really wide stance is more suited to women, like the wide grip bench, because of leverage and flexibility.
    Philippe Geoffrion likes this.
  6. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    Good call. Cossack squat can be performed much like the prying goblet squat - get into position, look for space, pry, breath, and try to get lower without giving up on as upright a torso as possible. Doing all those things, and in particular dorsiflexing - hard - the ankle of the straight leg will help.

    Geoff Chafe likes this.
  7. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor


    Cossack squats are my absolute favorite mobility and movement prep. Seems tailor-made for "sumo mobility."
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  8. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Anna C and @Steve Freides I always struggle to make and maintain flexibility in the hips. I took it easy for a few months and it was a noticeable regression.

    Cossiacs are a great drill especially the KB version when used effectively.

    My only experience with Sumo Stance is the Tommy Kono staple exercise...

    Do you have any experience with it? It’s very effective in strengthening and increasing effective range of motion in the hips.

    Louie Simmons has a Round Back Sumo Straight Leg Deadlift. Upper back of course. Preformed much like a sumo stance Jefferson Curl. I have been playing with that in warmup reps. It helps build strength and position off the floor.

    Oddly enough I never missed Deadlifts off the floor, but Sumo DL is harder for me off the floor.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    I think you’re just still figuring out Sumo. It’s funny, one of those movements that feels easy until it doesn’t and all of a sudden the bar is glued to the floor.

    Look up Ed Coan on YouTube teaching sumo DL.

    Antti likes this.
  10. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

  11. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Another variation of Cossack squats that I like is to use a band around the hips and anchored in front of you (such as to a power rack upright). The band pulls your hips forward and allows you to keep a stable upright torso position. Then I do various prying movements, rotating the extended leg, reaching up and back with each arm, etc.

    The band also works great like this for squatting -- it's sort of like a prying goblet squat, but the counterbalancing effect is a little different so the drill has a little different feel. Using a band is a nice complement to the same drills done goblet-style holding a weight in the hands.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
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  12. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    That’s for the video. I would be a similar build to Silent Mike. So technically applicable to me. Also some good nuggets. Coan Rows and grip work.

    @Steve Freides Did you like his method of getting down to the bar?
  13. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    The biggest take-aways from that video for me are:

    The importance of getting down to the bar with as upright a torso as possible.

    The importance of having your shins right up against the bar.

    The importance of making small changes in your stance width and turnout from week to week in order to find the best position for your individual build, strengths and weaknesses.

    @Geoff Chafe, I'm not really able to comment on what you asked, since I don't have any mobility/flexibility issues when it comes to hips and hamstrings, and getting into the start position for me has never been an issue. He's a good source of information - like anything, I'd try it and see how it works for you. One thing he doesn't mention much in the video is the idea of hanging onto the bar and using that to help lower yourself gradually, i.e., of positioning yourself so that, if you let go of the bar, you'd fall over backwards. Eventually you have to figure out the start without that, but it can be a great help, and for some people, it's also a solid approach to finding a starting position for conventional DL, too.

    Geoff Chafe likes this.
  14. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Steve Freides I used the cues you highlighted, with special stretches and exercises a few times a day over a few weeks, and Sumo is clicking. Yesterday I got about 6/10 lifts. An improvement.

    Sumo is much more of a leverage lift than conventional. I always wondered what the back spotter for Deadlifts was about. Now I am getting it.
  15. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    @Geoff Chafe, glad to hear that. A "leverage" lift is one way to put it, for sure. Calling the lift more technique-dependent is another way. In the video I linked to, Ed Coan mentioned that one can "muscle" through a conventional deadlift even if one's form is a little off, but not so with sumo. We are all saying the same thing here - I'm agreeing with you and just sharing some other ways to express the same idea.

    Geoff Chafe likes this.
  16. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    What do you think is the best source for cossack squat progressions? I am almost there but can't get the supporting foot low and stable enough although I can sit in a deep squat. I am guessing ankle mobility issues.
  17. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    I'm not sure exactly what you mean there, but basically you just go down as far as you are able and come back up. I like Karen' Smith's video, maybe this will help:

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  18. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Yes, just down as far as you are able.

    To maintain balance, you can:
    --Hold a light weight as a counterbalance as in a goblet squat.
    --Hold onto a stationary object, such as a doorframe or power rack upright.
    --Use a band around your hips and anchored to a stationary object, such as a power rack upright.

    I don't actually think of any of these in terms of progression/regression, just as variations with their own feel.
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  19. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    Thanks, and Anna C. didn't realize that it was common not to have full ROM. At the Muay Thai gym and Strongfirst events I go to, everyone is much younger and more flexible than I am (but not always stronger for the latter!). It is part of our warmup in Muay Thai class.
  20. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    @guardian7, apply the same prying techniques you use in the goblet squat to your Cossack squat.

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