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The Stiff Leg Deadlift: The Ultimate Exercise for Strengthening Your Hamstrings

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Jan 18, 2023

Stiff Leg Deadlift

The stiff leg deadlift is a highly effective compound exercise that targets and strengthens your posterior muscles; back, hamstrings, triceps and glutes.


If performed right, the hamstrings will absorb most of the tension from a stiff leg deadlift. The “hammys” are a group of three muscles that run from the back of the pelvis to the back of the knee, and play a critical role in many everyday movements, like walking, running, and jumping.

To perform the stiff leg deadlift, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold a barbell or dumbbell with an overhand grip and let the weight hang in front of your thighs or to the side if using dumbbells.


Keeping your back straight, bend at the hips and lower your torso towards the ground, allowing your arms to hang down towards your feet. Your knees should remain slightly bent throughout the movement. Its very important to engage your core throughout the movement to maintain proper spine position.


To begin the deadlift, lower your body and shift your hips towards your toes — instead of bending at your waist. Doing this will help engage your hamstrings and keep your lower back from excessive tension.


The goal is to get your torso parallel to the ground, or as low as you can comfortably, then slowly lift your body back up.


Why is it so good?

The stiff leg deadlift is a great multi-muscle exercise for targeting the hamstrings because it allows for a greater range of motion vs traditional deadlifts. This larger range of motion allows you to get a bigger stretch on the hamstrings, and provides greater muscle activation and growth.


Primarily, the stiff leg deadlift targets the hamstrings, but they also work other muscle groups like the glutes, lower back, and core. An exercise that can target this many muscle groups makes it really effective for overall lower body strength and stability.

The biggest thing to be mindful of while performing a stiff leg deadlift is your form. It may be helpful to work with a personal trainer or physical therapist to ensure that you have proper form and technique.


Also, if you’re experiencing lower back pain or other issues, it’s important to be aware of your limitations and try to avoid going past your capabilities.


Stiff Leg Deadlift


Some added benefits

There are a wide range of exercises you can do that provide many benefits but to get the most value out of any exercise you perform, proper form and core engagement is key to boosting the results of that exercise.


Try your best to work on your lifting form and technique. Utilizing good form with the stiff leg deadlift can help improve your lower body strength, stability, and reduce risk of injury.

For some people, even me at times, the stiff leg deadlift can be a complicated exercise to achieve with good lifting technique. Don’t let the complexity of this exercise intimidate you. Instead, I encourage you to practice this exercise, with no weight if necessary, in-order to get the movement down.


It is definitely a great exercise to incorporate into your workout routine because of how many muscle groups it can target at a time.

Give your body enough rest if you perform stiff leg deadlifts frequently. Complement it with other movements like upper body exercises such as rows, pull-ups, and push-ups. If your goal is to build your posterior and lower body strength, the stiff leg deadlift should be a staple in your workout routine.


If stiff leg deadlifts are to complex, you can easily modified it by using a lighter weight or using resistance bands. Adding these modifications can make the stiff leg deadlift more feasible for beginners or those with limited mobility.

Now if you want to intensify the stiff leg deadlift, using heavier weights or incorporating variations like single leg stiff leg deadlifts can definitely increase the intensity.


Lets make things more challenging

You may be opposed to making stiff leg deadlifts more challenging but for those who seek new limits in their fitness journey there are a couple modifications you can make to enhance this exercise.


A great way to increase the effectiveness of the stiff leg deadlift is by adding pauses or holds at different points in the movement. For example, pausing at the bottom of a rep for a few seconds can increase the time under tension and further activate the hamstring muscles.

It’s also important to note that the stiff leg deadlift can be performed with a variety of equipment like barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands. Each piece of equipment has its own benefits and can be used to target the hamstrings and other surrounding muscles in slightly different ways.


Moreover, the stiff leg deadlift can have a positive impact on overall functional movement, as strong hamstrings can help to improve balance and stability, as well as reduce the risk of knee and lower back injuries.

Furthermore, incorporating the stiff leg deadlift into your workout routine can also improve athletic performance. Stronger hamstrings can help to improve running speed and jumping ability, making it a great exercise for athletes and those looking to improve their physical capabilities.


Incorporating the stiff leg deadlift into your workout routine can also be beneficial for individuals looking to improve their posture. As the exercise works the muscles in the posterior chain (back of the body), it can help to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting and improve overall posture.


Takeaways from the stiff leg deadlift

I’ll leave you with this, being consistent is key if you want to see results from the stiff leg deadlift, or anything really. Incorporating this exercise into your workout routine on a regular basis, and gradually increasing the intensity, can lead to significant improvements in your lower body strength and stability.


Please share if you found any value in this article, and make sure to subscribe to my newsletter (BELOW) for tons of free evidence-based content.



No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other licensed clinician.

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