What Is A Stiff Leg Deadlift?

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By Sean James

The stiff-legged deadlift is a variation of the deadlift done specifically to target the hamstrings. Like a traditional deadlift, it too involves a barbell, however, it’s fundamentally a different movement on its own.

To do a stiff-legged deadlift, you stand over the barbell deploy and use an overhand grip while ensuring that your palms are facing the floor. Keep your stance at shoulder-width apart and to lift, bend at your waist and ensure the barbell is aligned with the centre of your feet.

At that point, you perform roughly the same setup and movement like a conventional deadlift with a key difference – you more or less lock your knees during the entire motion. This allows you to exert tension to your glutei and hamstrings.

The Stiff Leg Deadlift is often mistaken with the Romanian Deadlift. Although both work similar areas, the difference is that in the latter you never put the barbell down on the floor – in that sense, the SLDL is much closer to a conventional deadlift.

What Are The Benefits Of A Stiff-Legged Deadlift?

Performing a stiff-legged deadlift has many conventional and unconventional benefits. While it’s taken advantage of mostly by athletes, it’s worthwhile for any serious lifter to use and functions as a great build-up to conventional pulling, or a secondary lift to help improve your deadlift PRs.

Stronger Legs

The primary benefit of doing a stiff leg deadlift is to drive muscle growth to your legs. It targets glutes and hamstrings better than virtually any other movement besides back squats, thus improving the strength of your legs and makes them bigger. This ultimately ends up helping you with improving your squat performance as well.


By performing the stiff-legged deadlift, you’re working exclusively on your glutes and hamstrings. Due to the locked knees, your leg muscles are being worked harder than they would have while performing normal deadlifts.

Stronger core

Stiff-legged deadlift isn’t just for your legs or posterior chain. By practising your stiff-leg deadlift regularly, you’re working on your core as well. By strengthening your core, you greatly reduce the risk of injury and harm across other major compound lifts – it’s one of the few hybrid isolation exercises that heavily targets your core.

What Is A Stiff Leg Deadlift? 1

Improves Lower Back Strength

The SLDL activates the erector spinae muscles and builds a lot of lower back endurance (particularly in hypertrophy rep ranges, i.e 8-12). Although it doesn’t address the back and efficiently as the conventional deadlift, it’s a great supplementary lower back exercise.

Prevention Of Injuries

Unlike traditional deadlifts, the stiff leg deadlifts focus more on the form and high reps rather than the weight. Because of it’s targeted approach to glutes, hamstrings and erector spinae muscles, you’re safeguarding against some of the injury risks of a conventional deadlift.

If you have any existing injuries, it’s better to start with the stiff leg deadlift before moving on to more conventional forms of deadlifts. However, it’s always recommended to seek advice from a trained professional.

In Conclusion

The stiff leg deadlift works as a great isolating exercise with a lot of benefits for any regiment. From improving your core strength to strengthening your bone density, it’s not only a great muscle exercise but also great for flexibility and muscular balance. If you are someone who wants to specifically target their glute and hamstring performance, the stiff-leg deadlift is the perfect exercise for you.

The hip-hinge movement and the isolation of muscles make the SLDL an excellent addition to your leg day or full-body workout. While primarily done with a barbell, you can also perform the stiff-legged deadlift using dumbells.

The stiff-legged deadlift acts as a great transition to more demanding and heavy-duty exercises that require maximum muscle hypertrophy and strength.

Liked this article? Check out 5 Effective Deadlift Alternatives Worth Trying.

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