How to do the deadlift and stiff leg deadlift exercise, muscles worked and what are the benefits of performing this exercise?

Equipment Used for the Deadlift

  • Barbell
  • Smith machine
  • Dumbbells

Deadlift Muscles Worked & Benefits

The Deadlift is a compound exercise which is great for strengthening many major core muscles and it’s considered to be one of the best exercises for overall muscle and strength development.

The deadlift is considered by many people to be the ultimate strength and mass building compound exercise. The deadlift targets the muscles in your back including the lower back and the latissimus dorsi (upper back), also the glutes, quadriceps (thighs), hamstrings and trapezius which are the main focus points, however it works many more different muscles across the body. Perform this exercise and you will benefit from a strengthened core which is the foundation for any strong balanced physique.

The deadlift should be a primary exercise for most, as well as other great exercises such as Squats, Benchpress and compound pulling exercises.

Deadlift Variations

  • Romanian deadlift – much like the stiff leg deadlift except you bend your knees slightly.
  • Sumo deadlift – legs/feet wider than shoulder width, how wide depends on your flexibility.
  • Stiff leg deadlift – this version targets your hamstrings the most.
  • Clean deadlift/Snatch deadlift – mainly used for power lifting.


Using poor technique especially with heavy weights can lead to injuries of the back and possibly knees. Always be careful and seek advice from qualified instructors.

How to do the Deadlift

Muscles worked – Thighs/Quadriceps – Hamstrings – Lower back – Trapezius – Latissimus dorsi – gluteus maximus – increases hand grip strength.

Technique (Recommend using a weight support belt)

  • Keep your feet about shoulder width apart, bend your knees and grab the bar with an alternating grip. (using an alternating grip, one hand facing in and the other facing out, this helps to make the exercise more comfortable, especially lifting heavy weights)
  • Keep your back straight and your legs in a squatting position, your knees should be bent at about 90 degrees, with your thighs parallel or almost parallel.
  • Lift the bar using your legs (keep your back straight) raise yourself and lift until your body is straight, hips forward and shoulders back, hold for short moment.
  • Lower back down using your legs, keeping your back straight, return the barbell to the floor and repeat.

Stiff Leg Deadlift

The stiff leg deadlift is a common variation of the deadlift and it’s an exercise that I regularly perform. It’s very good for working the lower back and hamstrings, similar to the deadlift except you keep your legs in a straightened and fixed position.

Muscles worked – lower back – hamstrings


  • With your legs bent grab the barbell with a normal grip, palms facing inward, hands about shoulder width apart.
  • Lift up the bar with your legs, stand up straight holding the barbell.
  • Keep your back and your legs straight, now slowly lower the barbell as far as you comfortably can and hold for a brief moment, now slowly straighten back up keeping your back straight and then repeat.

Make sure you start out with a very light and comfortable weight.

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