Move of the Week: Sumo Squat with Abs

BY Emma-Kate Stampton TIMEMay 8, 2013 PRINT

One of the most frequent questions my clients ask is how to tone their legs and stomach.

There are a massive number of movements that target these areas, however most of these moves work on either the legs or the stomach. 

The sumo squat is a great multi- tasking movement if you want to focus on both your legs and abs. You will get a good workout for your whole lower half with the addition of a nice stomach workout. A winner!


1. Stand with your feet wider than your hips, like a Japanese sumo wrestler. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out the side.

2. Inhale as your lower your body down, bending at the knees.

3. Exhale as you press back to the start position. Repeat this up to 10 times.

Side Bends

4. After 10 repetition, hold the squat position as deep as you can and bend sideways to the right. Reach your elbow towards the top of your thigh.

5. Straighten up and then bend toward the left.

6. Repeat until you have done 10 side bends total, five per side.

Cross Bends

7. Press back to standing out of the squat for a moment.

8. Then lower back into the squat position. Rotate your upper body so your right elbow reaches toward your left inner thigh.

9. Return to center and repeat with a reach to the left.  Repeat until you’ve done a total of 10 reaches.

Press back to standing and start the sequence again: 10 basic sumo squats, 10 side bends, 10 cross bends.

How to Get It Right

Make sure you can see your toes when you are in the deep squat position. This will ensure your legs are correctly aligned and prevent your knees from overworking. If your knees start to feel uncomfortable, stop and stretch the front and backs of your thighs.

When you press up out of the squat position, squeeze your glutes to activate them. This will help tone your buttocks as well as your legs. The deeper you go in the squat, the harder you work and the more results you will see.

Also try to stay as low as possible when you do the side bend. This will challenge your balance and stability and make your leg workout more effective. The main abdominals working are your obliques. The are the muscles responsible for lateral (sideways) bending and rotating the torso. To ensure you get a deep ab workout, pull your lower abs in towards your spine.

You can play with the sequence as much as you like. For example, do four sumo squats, one side bend to each side, then one cross bend to each side then repeat, or do the cross bends first.

When this sequence starts to feel easy, do more repetitions of all three movements, hold the squat as low as possible, and add some pulses before you return to standing.

Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. With 10 years of industry experience, she is passionate about sharing the gift of health and well-being. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.

You May Also Like