Stiff Leg Deadlift

  • Alternative Names: Stiff legged barbell deadlift
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings, glutes
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Average Number of Sets: 6-7 with 8-12 reps each
  • Variations: Dumbbell, kettlebell, sumo, machine, cable, EZ bar, and single leg stiff leg deadlifts
  • Alternative: Smith machine stiff-legged deadlift

The stiff leg deadlift is a hip hinge movement that targets your hamstrings more than the traditional deadlift. It is commonly performed on leg days along with other deadlift variations on back days thereby helping you to work on and improve the movement pattern. It should not be performed by people who have lower back issues.


  • A great move for improving leg and lower back strength.
  • It develops your abdominal muscles and core strength.
  • Does not allow you to lift too heavy and thus somewhat helps in injury prevention.

Stiff Leg Vs. Romanian Vs. Standard Deadlift

  Stiff Leg Deadlift Romanian Deadlift Standard Deadlift
Movement Involves Slightly hinging and bending your knees when maximum tension is achieved at the lower back and hamstrings Fixing your knees during the flexion and pushing the hips backward More bending of your knees, engaging the hamstrings and glutes lesser than the stiff leg version
Muscles Worked Hamstrings, glutes, erectors Hamstrings, glutes, erectors, traps, forearms, middle and upper back Erectors, lats, glutes, hamstrings, forearms, traps
Weight Used Can be performed with lighter weights (100-250 lbs) Involves lifting lighter weights (110-250 lbs) than the standard version Requires lifting heavier weights (130-300 lbs)


How to do a Stiff Leg Deadlift

Grab a bar using an overhand grip and stand with a shoulder-width stance, keeping your torso straight and knees slightly bent. Assuming this to be your starting position, bend at your waist and bring the barbell down over the top of your feet. Keep moving your torso forward until you feel the hamstrings are stretched. Extend your hips and bring your torso up to return to the initial position.

Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift Tips

  • You may start lifting the bar off the floor or out of a rack.
  • Always keep your back straight. Do not round your back forward while moving the torso down.
  • Keep the movement slow and controlled throughout the exercise. Lifting too much weight or jerking motions can cause back injury.
  • Hold the bar close to your body during the lift.
  • Do not use a false grip for holding the barbell. Keep your thumbs wrapped around the bar.


  1. Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift: Performed by standing straight and holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides.
  2. Kettlebell Stiff Leg Deadlift: Is similar to the basic barbell version except that you do it by holding a kettlebell in front of your body.
  3. Sumo Stiff Leg Deadlift: Involves the same movement as the standard stiff leg deadlift but you do it by standing with a wider stance.
  4. Stiff Leg Deadlift with Machine: Is done by standing in a Smith machine with the bar positioned to the lowest setting and then doing the same movement as the traditional stiff leg deadlift.
  5. Cable Stiff Leg Deadlift: Performed by grabbing a pair of handles attached to the low pulley cable machine.
  6. EZ Bar Stiff Leg Deadlift: Is executed by holding an EZ bar with an overhand grip.
  7. Single Leg Stiff Leg Deadlift: Performed by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell with either one or both hands and standing on one leg, while pushing the other leg backward.

Alternative Exercise

Smith Machine Stiff-Legged Deadlift

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