Sumo Deadlift High Pull: Complete Guide For CrossFitters

The sumo deadlift high pull (or “SDHP”, as you’ll see it written on most whiteboards) is a foundational CrossFit movement.

You will find it listed as 1 of 9 movements taught at the CrossFit Level 1 certification, sandwiched in progression between the deadlift and medicine ball clean.

The SDHP develops strength in the posterior chain as well as explosiveness. It’s also a good teaching tool for learning heavier explosive exercises such as the clean or snatch, hence it’s inclusion in the CF L-1 certification.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the SDHP, how to perform it with good technique, the benefits, and what muscles are worked.

What Is A Sumo Deadlift High Pull?

Sumo deadlift high pulls are a explosive compound exercise used in CrossFit. Some of the same techniques used in the deadlift help new athletes learn the movement.

You will mostly find the SDHP in CrossFit metcon workouts. As the drive to pull the bar under the chin is a challenging position to reach, it’s not likely that you’ll do much strength training with this exercise.

Setting Up For The SDHP

The setup for an SDHP is similar to a deadlift, with a few major differences:

  • Wider feet– you’ll notice the word “sumo” comes before deadlift. Sumo deadlifts are a popular way of lifting the bar in powerlifting. Though it’s much less weight on the bar, the stance is the same
  • Narrow grip– Notice in the video that his hands are placed closer together than during a traditional deadlift. Depending on your arm length, you may (and probably will) need to put your hands inside the knurling on the bar.

From there, the same proper deadlift mechanics will work here too: tight back, “proud” chest, hips above knees, shoulders in front of the bar, and weight in the heels.

Drive through the floor when you begin the movement.

Sumo Deadlift High Pull Technique

When you begin the sumo deadlift high pull, your hips and shoulders should rise at the same time.

If you feel yourself leaning forward or trying to “muscle” the bar up with your hands, your timing is off.

The key to this exercise is the hip extension.

Driving your heels through the floor, your hips explode, which generates the power for the bar to move from your knees to chest.

Without a good hip drive, you will struggle to move even lighter bars to the top of the exercise.

Your elbows move high and to the outside, and the rep is concluded when the bar arrives under your chin.

Sumo Deadlift High Pull Benefits

Here are some of the benefits of performing sumo deadlift high pulls in CrossFit:

  • Explosive power– a strong hip drive is crucial for CrossFit, as it helps with your cleans, snatches, kettlebell swings and more.
  • Increased strength– performed correctly, the SDHP is another fantastic compound CrossFit movement that will develop muscles in your legs, back, and shoulders.
  • Increased body coordination– especially bringing the bar off the floor requires your body to coordinate between the top half and lower half. This transfers well into learning other physical skills.

Sumo Deadlift High Pull VS Traditional Deadlift

Obviously with the pull to the chin, you won’t be able to lift the same amount of weight when performing an SDHP (at least compared to a deadlift).

If your goal is to increase overall or 1RM strength, you may want to stick with deadlifts.

If you’d like to work your upper body or train your fitness in a metcon CrossFit workout, the SDHP may be the way to go.

You can perform a higher amount of reps with good form compared to deadlifts because the weight will be lower.

What Muscles Are Worked Doing the Sumo Deadlift High Pull

These muscles are worked during the SDHP:

  • Hamstrings and glutes – during the setup and drive phase, your leg muscles help drive the bar up
  • Hips- explosive hip power translates to other “fast twitch” exercises in CrossFit
  • Lower Back- like a deadlift, your lower back and core bears most of the load as you move the bar from point A to B.
  • Traps/Shoulders- any exercise where you are shrugging or rowing will help add shoulder strength and mass. Though the SDHP is a bit of a unique combo of both shrugs and rows, it still has benefits.


The SDHP- sumo deadlift high pull- is a foundational CrossFit movement used as both a metcon exercise and as a teaching tool during the CrossFit L-1 Certification.

Adding them to your training will help promote increased power and explosiveness, muscle gains in your shoulders, legs and back.

They are also a good tool for increasing your fitness by throwing them into a “Chipper” workout or other protocol.