Barbell Exercises: Stiff Leg Barbell Deadlift

The barbell stiff leg deadlift is a classic free weight routine that uses the barbell, a long pole with weight loads on each end, to distribute resistance to areas of the body and train various muscle groups. You can do this kind of exercise at your local gym in the free weight area, or work out at home, as part of a plan to tone and train muscles, building limb strength and developing your core. Core muscles are part of your torso or trunk that help you to accomplish everyday tasks, aiding your balance, poise and spinal support.

Doing the Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift

Regardless of the name, this activity does not really work the entire legs. It’s called a stiff leg deadlift because you raise the barbell in a specific way, although your knees may bend a little bit.

The following steps are involved in the barbell stiff leg deadlift:

  • Stand with the barbell on the ground in front of you.
  • Reach down and grab the barbell.
  • Raise the barbell to waist level by extending your hips, bending knees slightly as necessary.
  • Pull up until you are at a full standing position, with shoulders properly raised up.
  • Lower the bar back down to your feet.

This is one repetition of the barbell stiff leg deadlift.

Muscles Worked with the Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift

The barbell stiff leg deadlift works a variety of muscle groups. Primarily, this exercise is meant for strengthening the hamstrings and glutes in the upper leg, hip and thigh area. However, the barbell stiff leg deadlift also works a range of core muscles called stabilizers, which help with spine support and overall body capacity.

Avoiding Injury with the Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift

Some experts call the barbell stiff leg deadlift one of the most dangerous free weight exercises. You can spot some of the dangers of this activity by noticing that practicing it seems to fly in the face of the old strategy for supporting the back: “lift from level”–you’d think that lifting a heavy item from above would be inherently risky for your back, and for lots of people, it is. That’s why it’s important to take care with this exercise.

One of the best ways to avoid injury with the barbell stiff leg deadlift is to use a very light weight to start out. Too many beginners fall into the trap of just putting on a “normal” set of weights. However, starting with very little weight or even just an empty bar (the bar by itself often weighs 10 or 15 pounds) is a way to help your body figure out what it can and can’t do, especially with an exercise that has the potential to put stress on the back.

Pay attention to the above safety tips when you’re looking at adding this interesting activity to your free weight fitness regimen. The barbell stiff leg deadlift can help you firm up your glute and hamstring muscle areas and get better lower body strength for supporting you in a range of other exercises, sports and recreational activities.


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