How To Do The Stiff-Leg Deadlift

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How many deadlifts do you need in your life? It’s a question that everyone who lifts weights regularly should ask, and the answer is at least three. The standard deadlift is, of course, an exercise that should be on the workout schedule of every serious gym-goer. The other two deadlifts to consider are the Romanian deadlift and the stiff-leg deadlift. These two exercises look similar, and both put more focus on the hamstrings than a standard deadlift, but they differ in how much you flex your knee. The stiff-leg deadlift, as you might expect, involves less bending of the knee, and so increases the work the glutes have to do along with the hamstrings.

How To Do The Stiff-Leg Deadlift

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a barbell in an overhand grip (palms facing you). Your knees should be slightly bent and the aim is to maintain this slight degree of flex throughout the movement.

Bend at your hips and lower the barbell, keeping your back straight. Lower until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings and glutes, and then slowly straighten back up. Keep the bar close to your body throughout and avoid jerky movements – keep it slow and controlled.

Stiff-Leg Deadlift Variations

Stiff-leg deadlift with dumbbells

Switch out the barbell for two dumbbells and keep the form the same. Using dumbbells can increase your range of motion and will help to iron out any imbalances in the muscles on either side of your body.

Stiff single-leg deadlift

This is a great exercise for runners and people who play team sports because it trains your legs individually in the manner they are used when running – you’re not moving forward with two-footed leaps, right? You can use a barbell, or two dumbbells, or even just one dumbbell but whichever you opt for, keep the weight fairly light. Start in the normal stiff-leg deadlift position, holding your chosen weight in front of your thighs. Then bend forwards, taking one leg off the ground behind you as you lower the weight. Keep the raised leg straight. Once you feel the stretch in the hamstring of your grounded leg, bring the weight back up and the raised leg back down.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.