Stiff Leg Deadlift, Back Problem Prevention, Back Pain

Exercise of the Month: Stiff leg deadlift

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More than 75% of all American workers complain about back pain. Most Americans at some point in their lifetime will unfortunately experience a lower back injury. The stiff leg deadlift can help prevent back problems for the average American.

A highly developed posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back) is imperative for sports like track and field where speed is essential for success. A fully developed lean posterior chain is indispensable to bodybuilders, and fitness and figure athletes when being judged from the side and rear view.

Unfortunately, developing what can't be seen for most people, including athletes, seems to take a back seat to the development of more “significant” body parts like chest and biceps. Another reason many do not utilize exercises like the stiff leg dead lift is sheer laziness. It’s just too hard and not as fun to train legs and lower back. Well, for all you lazy asses out there who are beach lifters, most women notice a man's ass and legs. A flat flabby ass is out, and a lean athletic ass is in. So, where do you start, you ask?

Performing the stiff leg deadlift strengthens and develops the posterior chain, which includes the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. The glutes (butt) and the hamstrings are responsible for hip extension while the muscles of the lower back (erector spinea) are contracted statically.

Because of the large degree of hip flexion, the gluteus maximus and the hamstrings are utilized throughout the movement. The glutes work in unison with the hamstring to extend the hips in the concentric (raising) part of the movement. The hamstrings, located on the back of the thigh, become more involved as you begin to decrease the degree of hip flexion as you raise the weight. The erector spinea, which run the length of your spine on both sides, are statically contracted throughout most of the movement, keeping the normal curvature of the spine. A static contraction of the abdominals also helps to maintain spinal stability.

Extension of the body occurs when the upper, torso, and pelvis rotate up and back. The biggest mistake I see with this movement, as with the deadlift, is allowing the back to “round” and magnifying the kyphotic (upper back) curvature while de-emphasizing the lordotic (lower back) curvature. To combat this mistake, look straight ahead throughout the movement. Do not look downward because the spine follows the head. Also, before you start the eccentric (downward) portion of the movement, take a deep breath. As you start your decent, keep your chest up.


The stiff leg deadlift:

Elsie Konawol – Figure Competitor

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width and the dumbbells hanging at your sides. Look straight ahead and keep your chest up.
  • Start your decent in a controlled manner with a deep breath. Continue looking straight ahead all the way down. You’ve reached full range when your torso is horizontal to the floor. If you’re flexible enough, you can go even lower making sure to never break your form.
Elsie Konawol – Figure Competitor

  • After you reach the bottom position, start to reverse directions. As you begin your assent, start to exhale and return to the starting position.


Questions or comments? Send them to mike@bullz-eye.com. 

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