Sumo Squats With Kettlebell Exercise Guide — How to, Muscles Worked, & Alternatives

sumo squat with kettlebell

The wider stance of sumo squats increases glute activation. 

Squats significantly enhance the strength of lower body muscles. This pivotal exercise sculpts toned legs and fortifies the core, augmenting stability, mobility, and balance. Regularly incorporating squats into your exercise regimen can elevate lean muscle mass, refine body composition, boost jump performance, and aid in weight loss (1).

An advanced iteration of the traditional bodyweight squat is the sumo squat, performed with kettlebells. This variant employs a free weight characterized by a wider stance—mirroring the sumo wrestler’s position. It shares mechanical similarities with the goblet squat, albeit offering a reduced range of motion.

This discussion focuses on the sumo squat, a potent variation of the squat exercise. We’ll delve into its significant benefits and offer a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to executing it precisely. Additionally, we’ll explore several effective alternative exercises designed to target similar muscle groups, enhancing your workout routine’s efficacy.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

Sumo squats with a kettlebell are a form of weightlifting that targets your glutes, quads, adductors, and hamstrings. The wider stance emphasizes the glutes. The exercise activates core muscles like the abs and obliques, which help stabilize your body. Regular flexion and extension around these joints also help build and strengthen the hips and knee joints.

Unlike the regular squat, the sumo squat is done with kettlebells and usually adopts a wider stance called the sumo stance. You could also add resistance bands when performing this workout for more resistance and to activate the targeted muscles faster. Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to do the sumo squats with a kettlebell.

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend and grab a kettlebell with your two hands by its handle, keeping it close to your chest. Keep your elbows tucked in, and use your forearms to squeeze the weight, holding it in place.
  3. Keep your head straight back straight, and brace your core. This is your starting position.
  4. Next, inhale and slowly bend at the hips and knees, keeping your back straight until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  5. Exhale and push through the heels, slowly extending your knees and hips back to the starting position to complete a rep.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps before returning the kettlebell back to the floor.


The sumo squat with a kettlebell is a compound movement that works your lower body muscles. This exercise recruits multiple muscle groups and helps develop well-defined legs and a strong core. This study proves the effect of squats on the lower body, making mobility, explosive power, and proper body coordination more effective (2). Here’s a list of benefits of performing this exercise.

Builds the Glutes

This exercise primarily targets your lower body muscles, making them bigger and stronger. The wider stance places extra tension on your glutes and adductors. The extra resistance from the kettlebell increases tension on these muscles, inducing muscle hypertrophy. Building these lower body muscles helps with balance, mobility, stability, and explosive power. 

Activates Your Core

Sumo squats with kettlebells work the core muscles, keeping constant tension on them. This builds a stronger core, which helps with proper body balance and lifting heavy weights. A strong core also reduces the chance of injuries and helps with better body posture.

Better Joint Movement & Mobility 

This exercise works the joints as much as it works the targeted muscles. Regularly performing it could strengthen the hip and knee joints, making movement easier and increasing the range of motion. Moreover, the wide stance requires flexible hip flexors, increasing mobility.

Carryover to Other Exercises

Doing the sumo squat with a kettlebell develops your lower body muscles. This makes it easier for athletes to transition to other bodybuilding exercises with proper form, like leg presses, deadlifts, and other squat variations. You could even try CrossFit training, like cleans and snatches

Sumo Squats with Kettlebell Alternatives

Like other squats, the sumo squat with kettlebell builds muscular strength and explosive power (3). However, as effective as this exercise is, experts have advised integrating other workouts that build similar muscles to avoid a training plateau. Below is a list of other lower bodybuilding exercises to get the most from your workout sessions.

Wide-Stance Leg Press

The wide-stance leg press is done with a leg press machine. It targets your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. The wide stance adopted in this exercise allows for greater movement around the hips and glutes.

Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift is a weight-training exercise that works the posterior chain muscles, such as the back, glutes, and hamstrings. Using a barbell is an effective exercise for building muscle mass and strength since it allows you to use heavy loads. 

Reverse Lunge

The reverse lunge is a bodyweight exercise that works your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles. It requires great stability, so this exercise recruits core muscles for balance. You can do a reverse lunge with free weights like dumbbells or barbells or use resistance bands or a weighted vest for more resistance. 


What do kettlebell sumo squats work?

Sumo squats with kettlebell are weight training exercises that work your glutes, quads, adductors, and hamstrings. The exercise activates the core muscles and strengthens the hips and knee joints because of the regular flexion and extension that occurs around these joints.

What are the benefits of sumo squats?

Sumo squats have many benefits; adding a kettlebell to this exercise only increases your gains. This exercise helps build strong lower body muscles and joints. The article above lists some of these benefits.

Do squats with kettlebells work?

Yes, squats with kettlebells work. For example, a sumo squat with kettlebells helps build strong, well-balanced lower body muscles, which can be helpful for proper body coordination, mobility, and explosive power.

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  1. Takai, Y., Fukunaga, Y., Fujita, E., Mori, H., Yoshimoto, T., Yamamoto, M., & Kanehisa, H. (2013). Effects of body mass-based squat training in adolescent boys. Journal of sports science & medicine, 12(1), 60–65.
  2. Kubo, K., Ikebukuro, T., & Yata, H. (2019). Effects of squat training with different depths on lower limb muscle volumes. European journal of applied physiology, 119(9), 1933–1942.
  3. Rhea, M. R., Kenn, J. G., & Dermody, B. M. (2009). Alterations in speed of squat movement and the use of accommodated resistance among college athletes training for power. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 23(9), 2645–2650.
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.