Leg Training – Stiff Leg Deadlifts

Stiff leg deadlifts build strong glutes and hamstrings which in turn drive power into your big lifts – the squat and deadlift. Gain muscle in your posterior chain using the stiff-leg deadlift. This effective leg exercise is a must for your strength training program.

Muscles Exercised

Stiff leg deadlifts, sometimes called straight leg deadlifts, are an effective leg exercise you can use to strengthen your hamstrings and glutes. This exercise also taxes your lower back.

Exercise Technique

The stiff leg deadlift is a great supplemental exercise to work your glutes and hamstrings. Powerful glutes and hamstrings will in turn create powerful squats and deadlifts! To perform this exercise correctly:
  • Place your feet just inside shoulder width, with your toes pointed forward
  • Grip the barbell with your hands about shoulder width apart. To aid your grip, keep both hands on the knurling. As the weight increases, you may need to use an alternating grip (one hand overhand, one hand underhand); this will prevent the bar from rolling away from you and increase the weight you are able to grip.
  • Begin the lift standing fully erect holding the barbell. If you’re using a relatively heavy weight, you may want to use a rack for this exercise to eliminate the need to pick up the barbell from the floor.

Start the lift standing erect/locked out

  • Take a deep breath into your chest and hold it. Contract your abs to tighten and support your core.
  • Allow your hips to shift slightly backwards and lower your torso forward rotating at your hips. Keep your knees slightly bent. Descent should be relatively slow and smooth, lowering your torso down as far as possible while stretching your hamstrings and glutes.

At the bottom of the exercise, your back should be flat, your knees slightly bent.

  • Concentrate on contracting your glutes and hamstrings erecting your torso up to the original position. Exhale your breath as you lock the rep out at the top.
  • Keep your head up and your back straight throughout the lift.
  • Maintain a slight bend in your knees except when locked out at the top.
  • Select a weight that you can perform all of your repetitions using strict technique. The last reps of your final 1-2 sets should be difficult, however if you feel excessive tension on your lower back, you should reduce the weight.

Stiff Leg Deadlift demonstration


Common Mistakes

  • Allowing your back to round: keep your back straight throughout the exercise. This can be done by keeping your chest filled with air, your abs contracted, and your head up throughout the lift.
  • Not using the full range of motion: lower your torso as far as your flexibility allows
  • Bending your knees excessively: bending your knees too greatly will reduce the emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings

Exercise Safety

  • Keep your back flat. Don’t let your lower back round.
  • Do not use a weight that you cannot control with strict form
  • Perform the descent of each repetition relatively slowly, lowering the bar in a smooth, controlled fashion


  • Stand on a box or raised platform allowing you to lower the bar farther, increasing the exercise’s the range of motion
  • Increasing the barbell weight forces you to increase the emphasis on your glutes
  • Decreasing the barbell weight will increase the emphasis on your hamstrings

Additional Back and Leg Exercises

  • Deadlifts
  • Deadlift Rack Pulls
  • Good Mornings
  • Squats
  • Leg Press


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