Try Sumo Squats and Put Your Inner Thighs to Work

Add the sumo squat variation to your lower-body routine, and you'll work your inner thighs like never before.

It goes without saying: Squats are essential. The classic lower-body exercise is a vital functional movement pattern — not only for maintaining strong legs but for making it through life injury-free. But only doing basic bodyweight squats is like going your whole life only drinking one kind of smoothie — it'll get the job done, but you're missing out on the awesome benefits (and fun!) of all the other variations. Enter: the sumo squat.

The sumo squat is one of many squat variations you can add to your lower-body workout routine — but one of the most worthwhile. This super-wide version of the regular squat is a great inner-thigh workout, as demonstrated here by Rachel Mariotti, C.S.C.S., an NYC-based private trainer and former master trainer at Equinox.

Sumo Squat Benefits and Variations

So what, exactly, do sumo squats work? "The sumo squat is a great lower-body strength exercise that emphasizes the muscles of the inner thigh, as well as the glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves," says Lisa Niren, an ACE-certified head instructor at FITURE.

It's a surprise core exercise, too. "Based on your core strength, you might find the sumo squat adds an additional challenge to your balance because your body is in a different alignment and needs extra stability to keep from moving forward and back on the heels," says Niren.

Once you've mastered the bodyweight version, you can load it up. Choose between weights (dumbbells or kettlebells) either in a racked position (in front of/over your shoulders) or use one weight and hold it with both hands hanging between your legs, advises Christi Marraccini, a NASM-certified trainer at NEOU Fitness in New York City. As you become more comfortable with the sumo squat, you can load up a barbell and perform them the same way you would do a barbell back squat. Bonus: You can likely handle even heavier weight in a sumo squat than a traditional squat.

For an added challenge — or to make the exercise harder when you don't have weights — loop a mini resistance band around both legs just above the knee, suggests Heidi Jones, TRX-certified Fortë trainer and founder of Sweat to Change TV. (Then bang out these other resistance band exercises.)

How to Do a Sumo Squat

A. Stand with feet wider than shoulders-width apart, toes turned out at about 45 degrees.

B. Inhale to sit hips back and lower into a squat, clasping hands in front of chest, keeping core engaged and back neutral.

C. Pause at the bottom, when hips are in line with knees or when form starts to break. Shins should be vertical and knees should be tracking over (but not past) toes.

D. Exhale and press into heels and outer edge of foot to stand.

Do 12 to 15 reps at a medium weight. Try for 4 sets.

Sumo Squat Form Tips

  • Make sure knees don't cave in and heels don't come off of the floor. (This happens when attempting to go too low in the squat.)
  • If weight is in the racked position, keep elbows up. If weight is between legs, keep chest up.
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