Why You Should Be Doing The Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift

The kettlebell sumo deadlift is a very effective and fun hinge variation that is beneficial for numerous reasons that I will cover in this article. Read on if you want to find out why you should be doing this exercise and how to implement it.

5 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
Last updated

Get weekly roundups of the best training tools in your inbox, every Monday.

No spam – just thoughtful training advice

In This Resource
  • Benefits of the Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift
  • Skill Acquisition
  • Strength Training
  • Restricted Mobility
  • Deload
  • Novelty / Variety
  • Common Mistakes In The Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift
  • Rounding the Lower Back
  • Moving the Kettlebell Away From The Body
  • Placing the Feet Too Wide
  • Programming Considerations
  • Warm Up Exercises for Hinging

Benefits of the Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift

Skill Acquisition

The wide stance (or sumo) kettlebell deadlift is one of the most approachable hinge variations available. This is due to the fact that the wide stance results in there being less mobility required to perform the movement and also with the feet being wider apart, the movement of the hinge itself becomes easier to perform.

These two factors result in the kettlebell sumo deadlift being a brilliant movement for beginners who are still in their skill acquisition phase. This may be the first or one of the first hinge movements you select to use when trying to get strong in the hinge movement patterns due to its simplicity.

Strength Training

Lifting heavy objects is the best and the only way to get really strong. Kettlebells can be one of these heavy objects, although barbells are extremely effective for strength training, kettlebells are another tool that we can use that is very effective. This is especially true when it comes to deadlifting.

Having kettlebells in your gym however may be what is blocking you from actually gaining strength through training with kettlebells, if this is the case and it is something you are interested in, then maybe considering looking for a strongman gym or a Crossfit gym with this style of equipment. If your used to doing the conventional deadlift with a barbell, make sure you get used to this movement with weights your confident with before going very heavy.

Restricted Mobility

For individuals with restricted mobility for whatever reason, this exercise can be a great selection. For those who have particularly limited range of motion, elevated the KB slightly using a weight plate can be a good solution. This will mean that the exercise can be performed with technical precision without being negatively affected by the poor mobility. Mobility can be progressively challenged by lowering the amount the KB is elevated and then progressively narrowing the feet towards a traditional kettlebell deadlift.


For those of us who love strength training with a barbell (guilty) it can be very effective to take hard deloads. Hard deloads include a reduction in volume and intensity, this can include changes in exercise selection. A change in exercise selection during your deload week (or deload cycle) can be a great and often much needed mental break from the conventional deadlift. Deloading with the kettlebell can take the pressure off, let you breath a little and let your body recover from the tough training done before hand.

Novelty / Variety

If you’re reading this and have years of training under your belt, you may be looking for a novel and fun stimulus to make your training more interesting. Novelty is a really important aspect of training that cannot go unnoticed. If your not a competitive athlete (powerlifting, crossfitter) and training is a practice you use to stay in excellent physical condition, then making it something you find fun and interesting is crucial to the longevity of your practice.

Common Mistakes In The Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift

Rounding the Lower Back

Moving the Kettlebell Away From The Body

The kettlebell needs to stay as close to the body throughout this movement. When lifting heavy weights, the last thing we want to do is make the exercise even more challenging by moving the weight away from our centre of mass. This is why we should keep the trajectory as close to our body as possible.

Placing the Feet Too Wide

Often times when people adapt the sumo stance they over doo the width of the stance. Finding a stance which you’re comfortable with may take a little bit of time, but will make a huge difference once you’ve found it. The wide needs to be one that never makes you feel as if you’re stretching the muscles in the hips.

Programming Considerations

For strength training, ensure your using heavy weights (heavy for you) and low repetitions (3-5 reps per set). For skill acquisition for beginners, using higher repetitions will be much more beneficial, as we are looking to improve skills, the number of times we perform the exercise is important for learning. Within a session, use between 3-6 sets, undulating the amount of sets used throughout a cycle.

Warm Up Exercises for Hinging

If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you – based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle.

This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

Sean Klein


Programme is a workout app that plans every workout for you

Programme learns from your past workouts, training experience and available equipment to create your optimal workout plan that adapts to your progress.