Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift Video Guide

Exercise Profile

  • Strength
  • Dumbbell
  • Compound
  • Pull
  • Beginner
  • Glutes, Lower Back
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Hamstrings Exercises Diagram Target Muscle Group

Exercise Instructions

  1. Set up for the dumbbell stiff leg deadlift by choosing a pair of dumbbells and holding them down at your sides.
  2. Stand up straight with a slight bend in your knees and your feet around shoulder width apart. This is your starting position.
  3. Keep your back as straight as possible and bend over at the waist lowering the dumbbells over the tops of you 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. Your eyes should be facing up and your shoulders back. This will prevent your lower back from rounding.
  6. Squeeze up through the glutes and hamstrings until you're standing straight up.
  7. Repeat for desired reps.

Exercise Tips:

  1. You must keep your eyes looking up at all times. As soon as you look down at the floor your back will round!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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 the your weight on the toes when at the bottom position of the exercise, you are performing it incorrectly.
  6. Do not relax at the bottom of the movement. Keep your legs, back and abdominals tight as you begin the ascent.
  7. Keep the rep timing slow and control the weight, especially when lowering. Remember the focus is on stretch and contraction!
  8. 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 with naturally move back.
  9. 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!

11 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 02/16/2015 - 13:24

His back is far too rounded at the bottom of each rep... Deadlifting with this form is inviting injury without question. Always keep your chest up, your shoulders pinched, and your back straight throughout the movement, regardless of weight.

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Posted Sat, 06/28/2014 - 14:39

This is absolutely NOT a "beginner" level exercise. There are several ways to hurt yourself here and you need a lot of core strength to safely attempt this lift. The written instructions are great, but the video demo, not so much.

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Posted Fri, 02/21/2014 - 13:57

i have trouble with my bck

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Posted Wed, 11/06/2013 - 10:21

The only time I feel any stretch in my hamstrings is been I bend my knees a little more than I think I am suppose to.. Is this wrong ? I feel pressure on my lower back but I continue to keep my face forward and back straight so I didn't think it was something to worry about ??

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Posted Wed, 04/03/2013 - 17:16
Cameron D

For those of you having trouble with this exercise, keep your back as straight as possible. Put all your weight on your heels, do not let any of your weight shift to the balls of your feet. Like this you should feel it more so in your hamstrings and it should take strain of your back. Make sure to keep the dumbells very close to you, as in holding them pointed towards your body, directly above the tops of your feet. Practice in a mirror, that will help you to see what you are doing wrong.

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Posted Wed, 03/20/2013 - 15:50

no matter how I do this, I still don't feel anything on my hamstrings only on my lower back. I don't bend too much forward and don't use heavy weights yet I still only feel it on my lower back.

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Posted Wed, 03/06/2013 - 13:29

I can't touch my toes and it seems as though you would need to be able to do that in order to perform this exercise as demonstrated in the video. Any tips?

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Posted Wed, 02/13/2013 - 13:45

You shouldn't go to far in the upper position.
In face you should be slightly bent forward. I used to move my shoulders back in the upper position which put more pressure on my back.

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Posted Sat, 02/02/2013 - 11:24
Simon S. K.

How come i can only feel anything in my calves when doing this? i feel absolutely nothing in my hamstrings

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Posted Tue, 09/04/2012 - 17:16

Question: i feel my lower back when i do this is it good or bad?:S

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Posted Thu, 10/04/2012 - 21:05

It sounds like the weight is too far forward. Make sure that the dumbells are close to your body and you are looking up with your eyes. You should feel this in your hamstrings. Also, try squeezing your glutes as you rise with the weight.