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Learn the Basic Fundamentals of the Sumo Deadlift High Pull

Updated: Feb 4, 2023

Build full-body strength and power in one exercise with the sumo deadlift high pull. In this article, we explain why and how to do them and provide you with seven of the best sumo deadlift high pull variations and alternatives.

Your body is made up of so many different muscle groups that it can almost be impossible to exercise each and everyone of them! Most seasoned gym geors and athletes only workout and train the major muscle groups such as the quads, pecs and lats.

When I train, I use a routine where I will train certain muscle groups on certain days. This way, I can still go to the gym daily and still be able to workout. - God only knows how much I need this personal time - But by using this approach, you can have greater gains.

When I first got back into working out, I didn't have this kind of routine, I actually completed a couple of full body exercises a few times a week. If you are looking into this route, there is such a variety of workouts you can complete in order to give you that full body exercise your are looking for.

One of the exercises I highly recommend is the Sumo Deadlift High Pull, which is the exercise we are going to talk about today.

Sumo Deadlift High Pull

Surprisingly, the Sumo deadlift high pull combine two exercises – sumo deadlifts and upright rows. Since they do combine two different exercises, they involve two different muscle groups.

The Quads are the main muscles trained during the Sumo Deadlift High pull.

The quads are located on the front of your thighs, they contain different muscle groups: the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. Three of these muscle groups work together to extend your knees, while the rectus femoris is also one of the hip flexors.


These muscles are responsible for hip extension and knee flexion. The hamstrings contain several muscles, which are the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus. The hamstrings are located on the back of your thigh. Gluteus maximums, medius, and minimus

The gluteal muscles are located on the back and sides of your hips. The Gluteus maximus is mainly responsible for hip extension, while the medius and minimus are more involved in hip abduction. The Sumo deadlift high pulls give your glutes a workout to build these muscles.

Erector spinae

The erector spinae are your lower back muscles and they contract during sumo deadlift high pulls to prevent your spine from rounding.


Oh yes, the core muscles. Almost every exercises involves using the core because these muscle stabilize you. The main core muscles are the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, and obliques.


These Trapezius muscles cover much of your upper back and contain three sets: the trapezius fibers, upper, middle, and lower, and all three are involved in sumo deadlift high pulls. It's really the upper and middle fibers are most active during the sumo deadlift high pull.


The deltoids are your shoulder muscles. There are three sets of deltoid fibers, often called heads; anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (rear). The medial and posterior muscles are the most active during the sumo deadlift high pull.

Biceps brachii

The biceps are located on the front of your upper arm, which helps you pull weight up in front of your body. The biceps are probably the most well-known muscle in the human body. The biceps works with the brachioradialis and brachialis during sumo deadlift high pulls.

Wow. Those are a lot of muscle groups that are being worked in this simple exercise! That's defiantly a lot of muscle building if you use this exercise in your regular fitness routine!

If your ready to incorporate the Sumo Deadlift High Pull into your fitness routine, we will go over how to do the exercise with proper form next.

How to Do Sumo Deadlift High Pull

It's so important to be able to complete any exercise with proper form to be able reduce injuries. When starting any new exercise, I highly recommend practicing with less weight first so you can get use to the exercise. Once you have it down, then you can add more weight. This is especially true to the Sumo Deadlift High Pull because it is a bit more complicated than other exercises.

  1. Place your barbell on the floor. Usually, it's around mid-shin height when it's on the floor.

  2. Make sure you are standing with your toes under the bar. And your feet should be about 1.5 shoulder-widths apart, toes turned slightly outward.

  3. Reach down and hold the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip, so your arms are inside your legs. Your shoulders should be slightly in front of the bar.

  4. Remember to brace your core, straighten your arms, pull your shoulders down and back, and adopt a neutral spine. Also, make sure your hips are below shoulder height.

  5. Time to drive down through your heels and keep your arms straight, extend your legs and lift the bar upward.

  6. Just as your hips and knees near lockout, shrug your shoulders and pull with your arms, bring the bar up and under your chin. Make sure to keep your elbows up and out.

  7. Lastly, lower the weight back to your hips and then place it back on the floor.

Sumo Deadlift High Pull Benefits and Cautions


If your still on the fence about adding this exercise into your routine, not to worry. We are going to talk about the benefits below: A full-body exercise

As we mentioned above, there are so many muscle groups worked during this exercise. The Sumo Deadlift High Pull are one exercise that give you that full body workout. So, if you are short on time, this one is a great way to get in a full body exercise without dedicating a lot of time.

Helps get you lean

If your interested in getting lean and fit, the sumo deadlifts high pull can help you. Since it's a full body exercise, it defiantly helps to get you lean if the exercise is used in your fitness routine.


The Sumo Deadlift High Pull is one of the most versatile exercise. It can be used to develop muscle, increase power or even just for maintaining muscle. It's really an exercise that can be for everyone no matter what your fitness goals are.

A potent posterior chain exercise

The Sumo Deadlift High Pull is an exercise that is used by most gym goers who are athletes because it helps you run faster, jump higher and lift heavier.

Although the Sumo deadlift High Pulls are mostly beneficial for everyone, there are some drawbacks and cautions for others.

Shoulder injuries

The Sumo deadlift high pull involve a little rotation of the shoulder joint combined with elevation of the shoulder girdle. In any kind of rotational exercise, especially in the shoulder, you might want to be on the look out for shoulder pain. This is especially true if you have a history of shoulder injuries.

I have a history of shoulder pain due to playing as a pitcher in softball for over 10 years. I am able to do this exercise, but I only complete about 5 - 8 reps and only complete 1 set because it starts to irritate my shoulder. Just be cautious if you decide to do this exercise.

Lower back injury

Many explosive exercises such as the Sumo Deadlift high pull might cause poor form issues, such as position of the spine, or bracing your core. Any issues like these can cause lower back injury. Just make sure you know how to brace your core effectively so you won't put yourself out of a workout due to injury. Not for beginners

I highly recommend if you are new to exercise, not to complete the Sumo Deadlift high pull. It really requires technique and practice. If you are a newbie and you want to try this exercise, i highly recommend you try it out with much lighter weights so you can practice the correct form first before opening yourself to injury with adding weights.

4 Sumo Deadlift High Pull Variations and Alternatives

As much as I like the Sumo deadlift high pulls because they are such a highly effective full-body exercise, there are also alternatives to the exercise that still work the same muscle groups. Here are several variations and alternatives:

1. Kettlebell sumo deadlift high pulls

I love kettlebells and I might actually be the first one to jump to a kettlebell exercise in my family. You can really get in a good workout just by using a kettlebell. If your up for this variation, grab a kettlebell and try it out! I use Yes4All Kettlebell from Amazon, you can get one here. How to do it:

  1. Place your kettlebell on the floor and stand astride it, feet about 1.5 shoulder-widths apart. Reach down and hold the handle with an overhand grip.

  2. Brace your core, straighten your arms, pull your shoulders down and back, and adopt a neutral spine.

  3. Stand up explosively and, as your knees and hips approach lockout, bend your arms and pull the handle up to your chin. Keep your elbows high and wide.

  4. Extend your arms, lower the kettlebell back to the floor, and repeat.

2. Resistance band sumo deadlift high pull

Aside from kettlebells, I am also a fan of resistance bands. You can use resistance bands in almost any workout to add that little bit of resistance when needed. You can still work out a lot of muscle groups even with this variation. Grab a set of resistance bands and try it out for yourself! - I use Peach Resistance Bands for this. You can get yours Here on Amazon. How to do it:

  1. This exercise works best with a loop-type resistance band. Place the bottom of the band under your feet and then step out, so they’re about 1.5 shoulder widths apart.

  2. Hold the top of the band with an overhand grip, hands close together.

  3. Keeping your arms straight, bend your knee and hinge your hips to lower your hands to a point just below your knees.

  4. Stand up and pull your hands up to just beneath your chin.

  5. Extend your arms and repeat.

3. Kettlebell swings

As I mentioned above, kettlebells are my favorite, so I like to use them in different variations of workouts. I highly recommended the Kettlebell Swing. It's actually one of my favorite kettlebell exercises: How to do it:

  1. Hold your kettlebell in front of your hips using an overhand grip. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back.

  2. Bend your knees slightly, hinge forward from your hips, push your butt back, and lower the kettlebell down between your knees.

  3. Drive your hips forward and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder level. Keep your arms straight.

  4. Using your abs and lats, swing the kettlebell back down and hinge at your hips again.

  5. Transition immediately into another rep.

4. Power cleans

The Power cleans are considered a compound pulling exercise that really work that upper body and lower body together. Here's how to them:

Step One: Set Up

  1. Stand tall with your feet hip distance apart and place the barbell at your feet. If your flexibility is limited, use a lift or blocks to elevate the bar so you can reach it more easily.

  2. Lower your body into a squat position and grip the bar with your palms facing your legs. Your hands are outside of your shins, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

  3. Lengthen the spine, so you don't feel hunched over. The back stays long and strong throughout the entire exercise. Keep your focus forward.

  4. Engage your core

Step Two: Pull

  1. Lift the bar as you stand up, keeping the weight close to your body. It should feel like you are pulling the bar along your shins and above your knees.

  2. Continue lifting until the bar is at your thighs. Keep your back straight with your shoulders over the hips. The ankles, knees, and hips are fully aligned. Keep your core engaged and the back strong.

Step Three: Second Pull and Scoop

  1. Bend the knees slightly to prepare for the next quick succession of movements.

  2. Thrust or "scoop" the hips forward in a powerful movement to pull the bar toward the chest. This explosive movement may involve lifting to the balls of your feet; your feet might even clear the floor slightly.

  3. Elevate the shoulders to create power as you pull the bar through the final stage of this movement. Flex through the elbows and pull them forward to prepare for the next phase.

Step Four: Catch

  1. Pull your body under the bar as you continue lifting. Your elbows will snap forward (under the bar), and your shoulders will roll forward, making it feel like your shoulder blades are pulling down and back.

  2. Drop into a quarter squat position, keeping your back strong and posture upright

  3. Catch the bar, so it rests on the front of the shoulders.

Step Five: Stand and Release

  1. Stand up tall with the weight resting solidly on the front of the shoulders.

  2. Lower the weight down to the floor in a slow, controlled manner


Wow! We went over so many how-to's from variations of the Sumo Deadlift High Pull to completing the Sumo Deadlift High Pull. As you can see, there is so much technique involved in completing some of these exercises. If you are a seasoned gym goer, you might not have a problem completing some of these exercises. - I know I didn't. But if you a newbie, some of these exercises please proceed with caution. It might be easier to workout your way up to harder, more complicated exercises when you first starting out.

Even if you are a seasoned gym goer and you have questions about if you are doing an exercise correctly, always better to ask a trainer at your local gym. They are always happy to help others that want to learn more about fitness and how to exercises. It's okay to ask for help you if you need it.

Learning how to complete exercises with proper form is so essential to building the body you want. Weather you are a seasoned gym goer, or a newbie, we have tips and trick for everyone on their fitness journey.

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