Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull
  • Experience LevelIntermediate
  • Secondary Muscles
    Glutes, Lower Back
Target Muscle Group


Hamstrings Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (On Bench) Instructions

Performing the dumbbell stiff leg deadlift on a bench allows for a greater range of motion.

  1. Begin by placing two flat benches together side by side. Space them apart so that when you stand on them, your feet will be around shoulder-width apart.
  2. Choose a pair of dumbbells and stand securely with one foot on each bench and a slight bend in your knees. Hold the dumbbells down at our side. You are now in the starting position.
  3. Keep your back as straight as possible and bend over at the waist lowering the dumbbells over the tops of your feet. Your knees should be kept stationary during the movement.
  4. Focus on the stretch in your hamstrings, and continue to lower the dumbbells down as far as your hamstrings will let you comfortably.
  5. Now engage the hamstrings and begin to raise the dumbbells straight back up.
  6. Your eyes should be facing up and your shoulders back. This will prevent your lower back from rounding.
  7. Squeeze up through the glutes and hamstrings until you're standing straight up.
  8. Repeat for desired reps.

Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (On Bench) Tips

  • You must keep your eyes looking up at all times. As soon as you look down at the floor your back will round.
  • The dumbbells need to stay close to your body throughout the set. The further the dumbbells are from your body the more strain is on your lower back.
  • Focus on stretching the hamstrings out as you lower the dumbbells and contracting them as you raise back up. The greater the mind-muscle connection the more you'll get out of this exercise.
  • It's best to have your knees slightly bent during the set but fixed (ie: bend them slightly but keep them locked in the same place throughout the set).
  • During the descent, to protect your lower back, keep your weight back on the heels. Do not let your weight shift forward onto the toes. If you find your weight on the toes when at the bottom position of the exercise, you are performing it incorrectly.
  • Do not relax at the bottom of the movement. Keep your legs, back, and abdominal tight as you begin the ascent.
  • Keep the rep timing slow and control the weight, especially when lowering. Remember the focus is on stretch and contraction!
  • One of the biggest mistakes people make when performing this exercise is bending over at the waist without moving the hips back. Instead of being supported by the large hamstring muscles, the weight is now placed almost entirely on the lower spine. Needless to say, this puts your back at great risk for injury. If you keep the weight close to your body your hips will naturally move back.
  • Technique is so important with this exercise. If you're just starting out, stand with your side to a mirror with a very light weight and practice the movement. Once you get the technique nailed you'll be able to move up in weight and start building some killer hams and glutes!