How to Do Stiff-Leg Deadlifts

  • Step up so that your foot is just over the middle of the bar. Put a shoulder-width distance between your feet.
  • Take a deep breath, lean forward, bend your knees just a little, and grasp the bar.
  • Hold your breath, gently brace your core, and raise the bar.
  • To stand up, pull the bar close to your body while maintaining a straight back.
    Maintaining a controlled downward motion while lowering the bar, maintain your legs straight.
  • Repeat for a total of three breaths.


The stiff-leg deadlift, also known as the straight-leg deadlift, is a modification of the standard deadlift in which the majority of the effort is now done by your posterior chain.

In order to complete this exercise without unduly rounding your back, you\’ll need sufficient mobility. As an alternative, you may lift the bar up on blocks, plates, or a rack to somewhat reduce the range of motion.

Muscles Worked in the Stiff-Leg Deadlift


Primary muscles worked:

Secondary muscles worked:

Stiff-Leg Deadlift vs. Conventional Deadlift

The key distinction between stiff-leg deadlifts and regular deadlifts, as the name suggests, is that during the former, your legs remain almost straight (\”stiff\”) throughout the full range of motion. This turns the exercise into almost a pure hip hinge, which reduces the involvement of your quads and shifts more of the work to your posterior muscle groups: your back, glutes, and hamstrings

The starting position, where the knee-bend is greatest in the standard deadlift, is where the difference is most noticeable. Depending on your body type and your mobility, it might be difficult to reach the beginning position in the stiff-leg deadlifts while keeping a straight back, or a minor arch in your back. If this is the case, you could begin by placing the barbell on low blocks or a couple of weight plates so that you can reach it more easily. As you improve your technique and mobility, you can eventually reduce the barbell if you so want.

Stiff-Leg Deadlifts vs. Romanian Deadlifts

Another common deadlift variation is the Romanian deadlift, which is very similar to the stiff-leg deadlift in technique. The fundamental distinction is that stiff-leg deadlifts normally begin and conclude with the barbell on the floor. This is not essential for the Romanian deadlift; you can turn the rep around before you touch the ground and just return the bar to the floor (or a rack) after your set is complete.

Stiff-Leg Deadlift FAQ

  • Do stiff leg deadlifts help deadlifts?
  • How much should I lift in a stiff leg deadlift?
  • Are stiff leg deadlifts bad for the knees?
  • How should I grip the bar in stiff leg deadlifts?
  • Does the stiff leg deadlift work the upper back?
  • Should the straight leg deadlift hurt my lower back?

Do Stiff-Leg Deadlifts Help Deadlifts?

Yes, stiff-leg deadlifts can benefit your standard deadlifts as they target the same major muscle groups and have a comparable motion. Stiff-leg deadlifts train your lower back along with your hamstrings and glutes, which is important for large deadlifts.

They allow you to work on the weakest link in your chain, which is especially helpful if you are aware that your quadriceps are stronger than your posterior muscles.

How Much Should I Lift in a Stiff-Leg Deadlift?

The stiff-leg deadlift allows most people to lift 75-85% of their typical deadlift weight, while individual variance can be significant owing to differences in body types and past training experience. Your quadriceps may be your weakest link in the deadlift if you can stiff-leg deadlift 90% or more of your deadlift 1RM. Conversely, if you can only stiff-leg deadlift 70% (or less) of your deadlift 1RM, your weakest muscle group may be your lower back, glutes, or hamstrings.

Are Stiff-Leg Deadlifts Bad for the Knees?

No. The load on your knees is smaller with stiff-leg deadlifts than with regular deadlifts. So the stiff-leg deadlift is an excellent option if you have sore knees or just want to build lower body strength without straining your knees.

How Should I Grip the Bar in Stiff-Leg Deadlifts?

A typical overhand grip is usually the simplest to learn since it seems the most natural. But eventually, you\’ll undoubtedly discover that your grasp starts to limit you. Then, you might wish to move to a mixed grip, a hook grip, or lifting straps. Our article How to Grip the Bar When You\’re Deadlifting has information on the advantages and disadvantages of certain grip strategies.

Does The Stiff-Leg Deadlift Work the Upper Back?

Even though your upper back muscles aren\’t the main ones moving your body during the stiff-legged deadlift, they still have to put in a lot of effort to hold your torso and shoulder blades in place. Your trapezius muscle, which is engaged in this exercise as a stabilizing muscle, is the most crucial muscle for this.

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