7 Surprising Sumo Squat Benefits Nobody Told You About

Squats are a staple of nearly any serious weight training routine, partly because they target nearly every muscle in the lower body. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be improved upon though.

The traditional squat is only one way to go, and, depending on your workout goals, you might find that you would benefit more from one of this classic workout’s many variations.

For a lot of people, the best option may actually be the sumo squat (also known as the pile squat).

While the reasons to incorporate this exercise into your workout are actually too numerous to count, here are seven sumo squat benefits to give you an idea of what you may have been missing out on.

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1. Sumo Squats Are Ideal For Working Glutes, Hamstrings And Inner Quadriceps

The unique benefits of doing sumo squats come from the form you use while doing these squats. So first thing is first, here is how you do a sumo squat:

This variation differs from a tradition squat in two key ways. First, your feet should be placed significantly farther apart than with a traditional squat–about three or four feet, depending on what feels comfortable–and second, your feet should be flared out about 45 degrees.

From there you simply lower yourself down the way you would with a regular squat, making sure to keep your back straight and your knees positioned over your feet (not moving past your toes). Continue until your thighs are parallel with the floor, and then push yourself back up from your heels.

It’s also a good idea to engage your ab muscles as you go through the motions to help with stability and balance.

With the feet farther apart and pointed outward, this workout puts additional stress on the glutes, hamstrings, and inner quadriceps than traditional squats do. In other words, it’s the perfect workout for anyone looking to tone up their legs and butt before heading to the beach.

2. Sumo Squats Burn More Calories

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Another great benefit of adding sumo squats into your routine is that this exercise burns far more calories than most other resistance exercises. The reason for that is your body burns calories just by breathing, and it demands a lot of oxygen while doing sumo squats.

You burn roughly five calories for every liter of oxygen your body brings in, and activating more muscle tissue requires more oxygen. As sumo squats work nearly every muscle in your lower body and even your core, they activate a ton of muscle and force you to start consuming a lot more oxygen.

While there are too many factors to figure out the exact calorie expenditure for any individual, you can get a rough idea ofhow many calories you could burn doing sumo squats with this formula:

Calories burned = total weight x .096 x minutes spent

So a person who weighs 200 pounds would burn roughly 190 calories with 10 minutes of sumo squats. And that doesn’t even include the boost your metabolism will ultimately get once all of your sumo squats produce a nice layer of lean muscle mass.

3. Sumo Squats Are A Compound Exercise

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Compound exercises include any activity that works multiple muscle groups at the same time, and they offer myriad benefits over exercises that isolate and target a single muscle group. Sumo squats also happen to be among the very best compound exercises that you could do.

In other words, since sumo squats are a compound exercise, you not only get the unique benefits of this particular workout, but you also get all of the benefits that come with compound exercise.

The high rate of calorie expenditure is one example of that (though sumo squats actually burn more calories than most other compound exercises, since they hit nearly the entire lower body and core).

A related benefit is that compound exercises provide a cardio aspect to your weight lifting routine. Since sumo squats increase your need for oxygen, the heart has to work harder to move freshly oxygenated blood to all of the muscles that the sumo squats are working.

This effect is particularly beneficial if you incorporate sumo squats into a circuit of compound exercises. This way, you move from one workout to the next without stopping for a break and keep your heart pounding the entire time.

4. Sumo Squats Can Improve Mobility And Flexibility

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Sumo squats are also a fantastic exercise for improving both mobility and flexibility.

And because squatting is a motion that people use every day–whether it’s sitting or rising from a chair or squatting down to pick up a heavy object–the gains you will make from doing regular sumo squats should be easy to both see and feel.

Additionally, because the muscles in your legs and core have to act in unison during sumo squats, they learn to work together, and that can lead to significantly better mobility.

Runners may be particularly appreciative of this particular benefit, not only because it could help them run more efficiently, but also because getting every leg muscle on the same page could ultimately lead to fewer injuries.

Sumo squats are also useful as a dynamic stretch. While you lower yourself and then rise back up, your muscles alternate between contracting and lengthening, which ultimately warms them, reduces any tension that has built up, and stretches them out.

5. Sumo Squats Build Balance And Stability

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As we hinted at before, sumo squats manage to recruit your core muscles in addition to the rest of your lower body. The reason for this is that it is a bit tougher to maintain balance during sumo squats than it is with more traditional squats.

Your core muscles have a lot to do with maintaining balance in all kinds of activities, but sumo squats demand a lot from them, especially when your body is first learning to adapt to the new motion.

They not only help to keep you from toppling over backwards when you are lowering yourself, but they are also crucial for keeping your back straight and ensuring that you don’t lean too far forward.

6. Sumo Squats Are Highly Versatile

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Although bodyweight sumo squads should be sufficient for most people to achieve their workout goals, one of the greatest benefits of the sumo squat lies in its versatility for adding difficulty. For building more muscle and strength, adding weight to your sumo squat is simple.

If you have access to a squat rack, then you can place a barbell over your shoulders with as much weight as you want. You can also just hold a dumbbell, a kettlebell, or another suitably heavy object with your hands in front of youYou can also adapt sumo squats for a deeper stretch if you wish.

Simply find two platforms–like a pair of step trainers or even a couple chairs–and squat with one foot on each surface.

Elevating yourself this way is particularly helpful if you also want to increase weight with a kettlebell or dumbell, as they can sometimes hit the floor if your stretch is deep enough.

7. Sumo Squats Can Be Done Anywhere

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For many people the best workout is one that they can do anywhere. Some people travel a lot and need to be able to exercise in their hotel rooms, while others may prefer to save money by skipping a gym membership and just workout out at home.

Fortunately, sumo squats are a perfect workout for either scenario. As we have previously mentioned, most people can achieve their fitness goals by relying on nothing but their own body weight during sumo squats. And if you do end up wanting to add weight, then you need only find a suitably heavy object–whether its a kettlebell or just a gallon of milk.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the choice to do sumo squats versus regular squats or some other variation boils down to your personal workout goals. If the goal is to simply build muscle and strength generally, then regular squats may work just fine. However, if your goal is to target your inner thighs, or to build a better looking butt before beach season, then these sumo squat benefits are tough to beat.

Luke Cafferty
 

Luke Cafferty is a fitness junkie, personal trainer and blogger. He's passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a strong and well rounded physique, while inspiring you to do the same.

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