Sumo Deadlift Highpull Exercise Guide — How to, Muscles Worked, & Alternatives

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Sumo deadlifts highpulls engage your posterior chain and delts. 

Athletes constantly search for the most effective workouts and exercises to enhance their performance. Many lifters traditionally divide their training sessions into sessions that focus on separate muscle groups. However, training the body as it operates in real-life scenarios is crucial—as a cohesive, single unit to develop natural, robust strength and explosive power. This holistic approach to fitness is a hallmark of the high-intensity workouts favored in the CrossFit community (1).

One standout exercise embodying this philosophy is the sumo deadlift high pull. This dynamic compound movement effectively engages, activates, and strengthens all muscle groups functionally. It’s an exemplary conditioning exercise for athletes to boost their stamina and strength. Furthermore, mastering the sumo deadlift high pull enhances one’s ability to perform other complex movements, such as power cleans, muscle cleans, and jerks, with greater efficiency.

This exercise guide delves into the sumo deadlift high pull, shedding light on its significance for engaging various muscle groups throughout the body. It outlines the benefits of this comprehensive exercise and provides detailed instructions for its proper execution. Additionally, the guide offers alternative exercises to diversify and enrich your training routine.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

The sumo deadlift highpull is a compound exercise that targets the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, erectors, arms, delts, traps, lats, abs, and obliques. However, this exercise can be challenging because it combines the deadlift and the upright row. It involves the entire body, with almost every muscle group engaged simultaneously. 

This is the perfect exercise for athletes developing power, strength, and balance. All that’s required is a barbell. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to do the sumo deadlift highpull exercise in the correct form.

  1. Stand next to the barbell with your toes under it and your feet wider than shoulder-width distance apart.  
  2. Reach down to the barbell with an overhand grip (shoulder-width apart) and bend your knees as if you are about to squat.
  3. Straighten your arms and chest, pull your shoulders back and down, then tighten your core. This is your starting position.
  4. Push through your heels with your arms straight and extend your legs to a standing position.
  5. Drag the barbell below your chin just before your leg hits a full extension. In this position, your elbows should be up and out slightly above your shoulders. Your spine should be braced, your core tight, and your arms bent.
  6. Lower the weight slowly and return to the starting position to complete the rep.


The sumo deadlift highpull is a total-body exercise that targets all muscle groups. It’s particularly effective for strength and conditioning. Here are some benefits of this exercise.

Develops the Posterior Chain

The posterior chain allows you to do essential movements, from running and jumping to picking up heavy objects. Doing the sumo deadlift highpull targets and develops these muscles, making them stronger and more resistant. It can also lead to muscle hypertrophy in those muscles. 

Perfect Your Explosive Technique

Proper explosive technique can be the key to a successful lift. The sumo deadlift highpull helps you perfect your explosive technique. It reinforces the proper movement pattern when switching from upper to lower body

Total Body Training

Fitness enthusiasts looking for an exercise that works with multiple muscle groups simultaneously can use the sumo deadlift highpull. It works both the lower and upper body to build muscle mass, strength, and good body conditioning.


Sumo deadlift highpull is an excellent exercise for full-body conditioning. With fewer weights loaded on the bar, it makes it good for multiple reps. This gets the blood pumping, which increases the body’s cardiovascular output.

Easy to Learn

Unlike other Olympic lifts and exercises, the sumo deadlift highpull is easy to learn. While the cleans, jerks, and snatches require a certain technique, the sumo deadlift highpull doesn’t need as much technique. 

Carryover to Other Routines

The sumo deadlift highpull works on your posterior chain muscles and strengthens them. This can improve your form for routines that require your posterior chain. You can also use this routine to improve your form for Olympic movements like the clean and jerk.

Sumo Deadlift Highpull Alternatives

Sumo deadlift highpull is a powerful compound body exercise that increases hypertrophy, especially in your posterior chain muscles. This exercise can also be done with free weights like kettlebells, dumbbells, and EZ bars. So you have the option of equipment choices. However, sumo deadlift highpull isn’t the only exercise that targets all muscle groups. To avoid hitting a plateau, there are exercises you can mix up to get the most out of your workouts (2).

Kettlebell Swings

The kettlebell swings target your posterior chain muscles, traps, arms, delts, lats, and core muscles. The difference between the sumo deadlifts highpull and kettlebell swings is the movement of the weight. Kettlebell swings require more hip flexion and extension. However, both exercises build body strength and explosive power.

Burpee Pull-ups

Burpee pull-ups allow you to work your lower and upper body. Burpee pullups target your lats, triceps, hamstrings, delts, glutes, and core muscles and are a great way to build relative strength and improve your conditioning. 

Power Cleans

Power cleans are a compound exercise that works on your upper and lower body. They can be harder to perform than sumo deadlifts and highpulls but also work on your explosive power.


What does the sumo deadlift highpull do?

The sumo deadlift highpull strengthens and builds your posterior chain muscles. It also reinforces the movements for Olympic lifts, such as clean and jerk. Overall, it’s easier than other routines that train Olympic movements. 

What are the benefits of deadlift high pull?

The deadlift highpull is a great exercise for building muscle mass in your posterior chain. It also increases your explosive power during lifts. For more benefits, check the exercise guide above.

Are sumo deadlift highpulls safe?

Sumo deadlift highpulls are safe and have no extra risk compared to other lifts. However, it’s essential to do this routine in proper form, especially to protect your back and shoulders. The exercise guide above provides a step-by-step guide. 

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  1. Wagener, S., Hoppe, M. W., Hotfiel, T., Engelhardt, M., Javanmardi, S., Baumgart, C., & Freiwald, J. (2020). CrossFit® – Development, Benefits and Risks [CrossFit® – Entwicklung, Nutzen und Risiken]. Sportorthopa¨die-Sporttraumatologie, 36(3), 241–249.
  2. Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 4897.
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.