Danny Hester shares his guide for a powerful leg exercise variation that will give you major gains.

Danny Hester is a former Classic Physique Olympia champion who has also trained many celebrities in preparation for film roles throughout his career. His a valuable source for high-level bodybuilding workout information – which is why we met up with him to record some exercise guides. In our latest GI Exclusive video, Danny Hester shares his guide for the ultimate sumo squat deadlift hybrid.

Danny Hester has previously shown us how to use a selection of leg press variations to further hone in your leg workout. Leg day is one of the hardest exercise days of the week and often short changed by many athletes. For bodybuilders, it’s essential and cannot lag behind. That’s why we are following up with another exercise guide with Hester to provide detailed tips and insight to taking your workout to the next level.

How To Perform The Sumo Squat Deadlift Hybrid

You’ve most likely heard of the sumo squat and the classic deadlift. These are two key exercises in any bodybuilder’s arsenal. This hybrid exercise variation is meant to give your legs a powerful workout without putting the weight and pressure on your shoulder and back. While a squat can be completely safe when performed correctly, for those with pre-existing shoulder problems – this can be an extremely effective exercise variation to build legs without compromising your spine.

Danny Hester recommends doing this exercise on the smith machine to provide stabilization. This allows you to fully focus on the muscle and getting the full range of motion correct.

You’ll also note that Danny Hester is standing on plates to give him a bit more height on the machine. That’s to make sure he can go fully deep down on the exercise movement. You can use this tactic as well to ensure that you get the full range of motion to match your height.

For your positioning and stance, you want to have our feet placed wide, about shoulder length apart, with your feet facing outward. Then grab the bar hands forward with a narrow grip. Then keeping your body positioned straight, drop down the weight without leaning forward. As you rise up, bring the hips in. You are squeezing and driving with your hips.

This exercise should be focusing on your quads and the glute/hamstring tie-in. This is where you should be feeling the squeeze if you’re doing the movement correctly.

Weight Range and Reps

Danny Hester recommends that you start doing 30% of your maximum weight. Under this light weight, you can do about 20 reps (but adjust according to your body’s limits). Then you can increase your max weight. The higher you go in weight, the lower you should go in reps. Danny Hester suggests increasing your max weight by 25% per set.


Danny Hester also suggests changing up your grip from overhand to underhand for some added variation to the exercise. You can also use straps to help hold on longer, allowing you to max out your reps and push the muscle closer to exhaustion.

It’s important that you do not lose form while changing the hand grip. A straight back and full range of motion is key not only for safety but to ensure the maximum activation of your muscle during this exercise.

Wrap up

Danny Hester’s sumo squat and deadlift hybrid exercise is the perfect addition to your leg day workout. It’s a powerful alternative for those who do not or cannot put added pressure onto their shoulders and spine.

You can watch Danny Hester perform the full exercise guide in detail with tips along the way in our latest GI Exclusive video above.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.