Is it better to perform deadlifts with a standard narrow stance, or sumo-style, where your feet are very wide apart?
— Arthur F., West Babylon, NY

The deadlift is one of the best exercises for building overall strength. You can do it either with a hip-to-shoulder-width stance or sumo-style, with your feet out much wider. It’s also great for building muscle size in your lower body, but where you’re adding that muscle exactly can differ dramatically between the two styles.

A Duke University study found that while standard deadlifting used more glutes and outer hamstrings, the sumo-style deadlift used far more quads and inner hamstrings.

In short, the sumo deadlift is a good way to work your quads, while the standard deadlift is better for your glutes and hamstrings. Your solution? Incorporate both styles into your training. Start with squats followed by deadlifts for one workout, and in the next workout switch the order to deadlift first and then squat. This way, you’ll bring up your strength with both squats and deadlifts without compromising your numbers in either move.

The Workout

Excercise Sets Reps Rest
Sumo Deadlift 3 6-8 2-3 min
Squat 3 8-12 2-3 min
Leg Extension 3 8-12 1-2 min
Standard Deadlift 3 6-8 2-3 min
Lying Leg Curl 3 8-12 1-2 min

Quick Tip: Use an alternating grip, with one overhand and one underhand.