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Why Should You Do Stiff-Legged Deadlift; Benefits and Muscles Worked

The Stiff-Legged Deadlift is a slight variation of the standard deadlift.

Deadlifts are crucial exercises athletes of all levels should be doing, but have you ever tried a slight variation called the stiff-legged deadlift? You should!

The stiff-legged deadlift is very similar to the conventional deadlift, although a minor tweak in the technique also shifts the focus of the exercise from one muscle group to a different one.

Here you will learn:

How to Do the Stiff-Legged Deadlift

To be able to do the stiff-legged deadlift you will need a barbell and your desired weight plates.

  • Position the bar on the floor.
  • Step closer to the bar, with shoelaces almost touching the bar.
  • Assume a hip-width stance.
  • Lower your upper body by hinging your hips back, reach down and grasp the bar with palms facing your body.
  • Bend your knees slightly, keep them in a fixed position, throughout the movement.
  • Hold your breath and engage your core.
  • Lift the bar from the floor, always maintaining it close to your body.
  • Keep your back straight at all times.
  • Stand tall.
  • In a controlled manner, lower the bar back to the ground.
  • That is one rep.

It is incredibly similar to the conventional Romanian deadlift, although the stiff-legged deadlift has less knee flexion during the movement if compared.

Mistakes to Avoid

The most common mistake people do while performing the stiff-legged deadlift is, of course, regarding the stiffness of the legs.

You may be bending your knees too much or stiffening the legs too much. Either way, that is not the intended stimulus in this exercise. While bending your knees too much will transform this exercise into a traditional deadlift, not bending your legs at all will put too much pressure on your knees.

You also should be paying attention to do the movement entirely as prescribed. Some people do not use the full range of motion and do not feel a stretch at the bottom of the movement. Make sure to lower the bar all the way it touches the ground.

Stiff legged deadlifts are great in the 5-10 rep range. If you can do more, you are probably choosing too lightweight. This exercise is supposed to engage your lower body and lower back.

Also, do not shrug at the peak of the movement. Maintain your arms locked to focus the entire exercise to hit primarily your lower body.

Muscles Worked

The two main muscles group targeted by the stiff-legged deadlift are the hamstrings and the lower back. But here is a full list of muscles activated while doing this exercise correctly.

  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back
  • Glutes
  • Adductors
  • Forearm flexors
  • Calves
  • Lats

Who Should Do the Stiff-Legged Deadlift?

Since you keep your legs locked in position during the movement, the stiff-legged deadlift utilises more glute and hamstring activation.

It is recommended for people in a hypertrophy program, as the exercise highly targets smaller muscle groups that are usually incorporated in other compound movements.

freeletics athlete deadliftSource: Freeletics

The hamstrings are important for walking, squatting, bending your knees, and tilting your pelvis, making it important for athletes, weightlifters, powerlifters. It is also the most common injury in sports, so it is crucial to focus your exercise on this muscle.

Your glutes are the strongest and biggest muscle group in your body. By working out your glutes, you are burning more calories and protecting your pelvic and hip extension.

Variations of the Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Although extremely simple, there are variations of this exercise that you can try for yourself.

  • Dumbbell stiff leg deadlift

As the name suggests, you can use a dumbbell instead of the traditional barbell to perform the movement. The technique is precisely the same.

stiff-legged deadliftSource: Sergio Pedemonte
  • Kettlebell stiff leg deadlift

Again, instead of using a barbell, you can hold the kettlebell with both hands and perform the proper technique as described above.

  • Alternating bodyweight stiff leg deadlift

In this variation, you do not need any weight and you will be training each leg individually.

Bend forward on one leg and extend the other in the opposite direction until you can almost touch the ground with one hand. Return to starting position.

  • Romanian Deadlift

Or you can just skip ahead and perform the traditional Romanian deadlift, although the muscles worked are not exactly the same.

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