Deadlift with Stiff Legs - Barbell Leg Exercise

Deadlift with Stiff Legs - Barbell Leg Exercise

In this lesson you will learn how to deadlift with stiff legs. This exercise trains the hamstring and the lower back muscles and is a good alternative to the lying leg curl. The good thing about the stiff leg deadlift is that you don't need a leg curl machine. You can do this exercises with a barbell or two dumbbells. For more leg exercises check out weight training main.


  • As you can guess from it's name, the stiff leg deadlift is done with stiff legs, meaning that you have to keep you legs pretty straight and your knee motionless. The effect for the hamstrings would be better if you fully extended your legs, but this would be bad for the knees. Some people bend their knees a bit when they lower the barbell and extend them when they stand up. Grasp your bar with both hands and keep your arms aligned vertically throughout the entire exercise. Because deadlifts with stiff legs are usually done with less weight than normal deadlifts, you can now hold your barbell with a double over-grip. Double over-grip = Grasp the bar with both hands from the same side. You can also use weightlifting gloves to support your grip or use an alternate grip like for the normal deadlift. Alternate grip = One palm faces your legs and the other one faces away. This way you can lift more weight. Inhale as you grasp your barbell - before the first repetition. Keep your back straight or slightly hollowed, but don't round. A weightlifting belt can be very helpful. It is very important that your back is already in this position when you move down to lift the weight from the floor. Looking forward will help you keep your back straight. I recommend you do the stiff leg deadlift with a barbell in front of a mirror. If you look down, you will automatically round your back.
  • Stand up slowly, like if you were doing normal deadlift. Don't move your legs or your knees. You should lift the barbell with the strength of your hamstrings.
    Of course the back muscles will also still do its part, but most of the strength should come from the hams (hamstrings). Stop when your upper body is upright and the bar touches your thighs. Then pull your shoulders back a little (See normal barbell deadlift instruction). Exhale as you stand up and make sure you chest stays high. Keep your back straight or slightly hollowed. By pressing out your stomach, the weightlifting belt becomes firmer and supports your lower back better.
  • Then bend forward, again without moving your legs, and inhale at the same time. Keep your back straight or slightly hollowed and look straight forward into the mirror. Move down until your hamstrings are slightly stretched. If you are flexible, consider doing the stiff leg deadlift on a box. You can also keep the bar off the floor by bending the elbows at the lowest position.


  • The deadlift with stiff legs is a good exercise to be done after lying leg curls.
  • A common mistake: Many people tend to move down too far and then arch forward. Keep in mind that your hamstrings are stretched better if you hollow your back slightly.
  • Move slowly and concentrated. Don't create momentum.
  • When you do stiff leg deadlifts, the weight should never touch the floor.
  • Use less weight than for normal deadlifts.
  • Stretch your hamstrings between sets and exercises.
  • Superset recommendation: Lying Leg Curl + Stiff Leg Deadlift with a Barbell or Dumbbells