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Stiff Leg Deadlift [Exercise Guide]

Stiff leg deadlift

While a standard deadlift is a wonderful exercise that has a lot of benefits and trains multiple muscle groups at a time, it’s not the only deadlift variation that you should be using in your workout routine. There are many deadlift variations: a regular deadlift, a Romanian deadlift, and a sumo deadlift to name a few.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the advantages of a stiff leg deadlift as well as different variations of this exercise.

What Is a Stiff Leg Deadlift?

The stiff leg deadlift exercise is a variation of a traditional deadlift exercise that is used for strengthening the posterior chain muscles. This exercise works the lower back muscles, glutes, hamstrings, as well as muscles of your core.

How to Perform the Stiff Leg Deadlift

To perform the stiff leg deadlift, you’ll only need a barbell or a pair of dumbbells.

  • Step 1. Take the bar off the floor with an overhand grip.
  • Step 2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees very slightly.
  • Step 3. Hinge in your hips while keeping your legs straight and lower the bar until it reaches the floor.
  • Step 4. Pull the up by engaging your glutes and hamstrings. Make sure that your back is straight by engaging your low back and core muscles. Keep the bar close to your body throughout the movement.

If you’re just a beginner, make sure you start with a lighter weight so that you can focus on mastering the movement first. After you’ve mastered it, you can start increasing the weight on the bar. The weight that you’ve placed on the bar should allow you to perform 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps for this exercise while giving you sufficient resistance throughout the movement.

Advantages of a Stiff Leg Deadlift

There are many benefits that the stiff leg deadlift exercise has. Here are 3 of the most important ones:

1. It helps improve mind to muscle connection when working out

Hamstrings are a key player when performing the stiff leg deadlift exercise, as they’re actively engaged throughout the exercise. This helps your body establish a better mind to muscle connection with your hamstrings, which will help you increase the effectiveness of this exercise and will result in better muscle growth.

2. Balanced leg development

The stiff leg deadlift is a great exercise to work on those back muscles of your legs like hamstrings and your calves. Most people neglect these muscles and primarily focus on squats, which work primarily on your quads.
If you add the stiff leg deadlift to your routine it will help you develop more balance in your muscles and avoid potential injuries.

3. Better posture and low back pain prevention

Because the stiff leg deadlift targets glutes and hamstrings, it can help you improve your posture.


If you’re sitting a lot during the day, your glutes and hamstrings will likely become weak which may lead to the lower-cross syndrome. Having a lower-cross syndrome can result in low back pain and bad posture.

If you do the exercises like a stiff leg deadlift that train your posterior chain muscles (back, glutes, hamstrings), you can prevent this issue from happening or fix it if you already have one.

5 Stiff leg Deadlift Variations

We’ve got different variations that you can choose to enhance your results when doing the exercise. Below are the best stiff leg deadlift variations:

1. Banded stiff leg deadlift

Banded stiff leg deadlifts are a good alternative to a stiff leg deadlift if you don’t have access to a bar or pair of dumbbells.

To perform the exercise, take a resistance band and step inside so that your both feet are on one side of the band. Grab the opposite part of the band with your hands. Make sure that your legs are almost straight and begin to bring your torso up by engaging your glutes and hamstrings. Then slowly lower your upper body down by hinging back.

2. Kettlebell stiff leg deadlift

This variation is also very similar to the previous one. The movement pattern is the same, but this time we will be using the kettlebell instead of a barbell or a resistance band. Grab the kettlebell with both hands and perform the movement in the same form as a barbell stiff leg deadlift.

3. Alternating bodyweight single leg deadlift

Alternating bodyweight single leg deadlift is a bodyweight alternative to a stiff leg deadlift that allows you to train one leg at a time. To perform the exercise stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Start by slightly lifting one of your feet of the ground and lowering your upper body towards the opposite leg. You should maintain a straight back throughout the exercise. Touch the opposite foot with the opposite leg and then return back to the top position by engaging your hamstrings and driving your glutes forward. Repeat the movement with a different leg.

4. Stiff leg deadlift with machine

You can perform this exercise by using a Smith machine, where you stand on it while doing the exercise. You’ll need to position a bar on the machine’s lower setting and work out using movements mimicking those of a traditional stiff leg deadlift.

5. Single leg stiff leg deadlift

You perform this workout by holding a kettlebell or dumbbell with your hands while standing on either leg. When exercising, it’d be good if you kept pushing your remaining leg backward gently.

Frequently Asked Questions

Stiff leg deadlift vs. Romanian deadlift – what’s the difference?

The main difference between the exercises is how much you bend the knees. When doing the stiff leg deadlift, your knees will remain almost 100% straight while doing the Romanian deadlift the knees will be bent more. Another difference is that with a stiff leg deadlift the bar would touch the floor just like with a regular deadlift, while with the Romanian deadlift you would try to keep the bar above the floor in the bottom position.

Stiff leg deadlift vs. traditional deadlift – what’s the difference?

When doing stiff leg deadlifts, you keep your knees straight which puts much more focus on your glutes and hamstrings. With a traditional deadlift, you bend your knees more especially at the lower part of the movement, which makes the hamstrings work less and engages your quads more.

What muscles does the stiff leg deadlift work with?

A stiff leg deadlift works your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. In addition, it also engages your core muscles, forearms, middle back, and trapezius.


A stiff leg deadlift is a great exercise that can help you improve the strength and stability of your back, glutes, and hamstrings. Try adding this exercise to your workout schedule and see for yourself the benefits it can provide.

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