T Nation

Deadlifting

We all deadlift. If you don’t, Mufasa will show you the door. Here’s the thing. There are numerous ways too deadlift. Currently I’m using Stiff-Legged Deadlifts to completely abuse my hamstrings. Problem is that my erectors are much more sore than my hamstrings.
This means one of two things:

  1. My erectors are strong and bear the brunt of the work and are therefore taxed to a larger degree
    or
  2. My Hamstrings are stronger than my erectors and aren’t taxed enough to get sore.

So, my fellow T-Maggers, what’s the solution? Is there another form of deadlift you guys perform that I can supplement SLDL’s with too build my hamstrings a little more? Don’t tell me to do leg curls or I’ll find you and…

are you doing what is called the romanian deadlift where your back is flat and you basically stick your butt out back? if not, move to that kind. also start some good mornings.

I’d recommend Good Mornings to replace the SLDL. I’m assuming that you’re not familiar with them so here’s a brief description. Position a barbell on your back like you’re squatting. Make sure to keep your elbows in tight to prevent the bar from moving. Position your stance so that your feet are a few inches apart. Now bend at the waste. Keep your back straight and kind of throw your ass back a little to keep your balance. Return to starting position.
Another great hamstring exercise is the reverse hyper. I don’t know as much about them (I just started doing them). Use the search engine to look them up. TC wrote a whole article on them.

Hey BigRob, here’s a thought: with your stiffleggeds are you
allowing your hips to drift, or better yet extend sufficiently?
Remember the greatest function of the hamstring is as an
extender… At times it’s good to do them with dumbbells
using a moderate weight, in order to get the feel back into the
movement…Sometimes when I go heavy, I lose the feel
of the movement,and it turns into a Romanian or traditional
deadlift…While keeping the bar close to the body, you have to
let your butt travel backwards; this will allow your hamstrings
to dominate the move!..When your starting the positive, remember
to press your heels into the floor… This engages the hamstrings
more efficiently…Oh, and make sure you never lose the curve in your
lower back during the movement because (a) it puts too much strain
on the lower back, and (b) it takes the hammies out of the movement!
I am sure you already know this shit, but sometimes it’s good to have a
reminder!..Hope some of this helps! Your dead lifting fool, Joey Z.

I do not know how you split your workout up but here is a couple of suggestions; if you do quads and deads the same day do them after you do something like wide stance squats or leg presses with your feet high and wide, and I know you ain’t gonna like this one but you could try pre-exausting your hams with a leg curl/stiffleg superset I know, I know, I can not remember the last time I did leg curls (about 3-4yrs?) but they WILL pre-exaust your hams and you will feel it. but try the wide squats or leg presses first;-) peace

Chances are your technique could use a change. In my opinion the stiff legged deadlift is the hardest exercise to perform correctly. When watching someone do it they can even appear to be doing it perfectly yet still working the back much more then the hammies. The solution is to make sure you get your butt back…way back…arch your back tight and once you reach the bottom you have to think of yourself as a raging bull…What does a bull do before it charges?..It paws the ground. At this point if you concentrate on pawing the ground as in digging both your heels straight back and down you should feel a strong contraction in the hammies…Your feet won’t actually move but it’s the idea that counts. As an alternative some glute ham raises or reverse hypers would get you used to using the hamstrings as hip extensors.

BigRob, as others have already pointed out, it’s probably your exercise form that’s the culprit, rather than an imbalance in your muscles. I rarely see people doing SL deadlifts in the gym, but far more rarely see anyone doing them correctly. Especially men. Rather than try to correct your form through the forum, my advice is to find a good PT, preferably female, and have her instruct you. (For some reason, women seem to pick the movement up better than men - not gonna speculate why!)

(For a minute there I thought you said that your ERECTIONS were more sore than your hamstrings. I was like, “WTF??! Maybe I should stop doing stiff-legged deads!”

I’ve started doing a couple of sets of glute ham raises after my stiff leg deads. Ouch! You could give it a go.

I agree with Hatey, pre-exhausting is the way to go, However, I would use glute/ham raises. They are more challenging.

Okay, things are starting to clear up a little. Char-Dawg I am a PT and my form appears esthetically sound but I’ll get one of my friends to take a closer look.
Kelly Bagget, sounds like my hips aren’t swinging back far enough and the weight is getting to far away from me. I do dig my heels in hard but the carpet floor in the gym makes it hard to get any grip.


Hetyey225 brother, what’s up? Listen, right now I’m doing 8 sets of 3 and pre-exhaust isn’t really in the cards. I’ll try finishing with a two sets of glute ham raises and let you know. I’m only doing deads on leg day one week then squats the next and rotating.
Now Joey Z. suggested to never loose the curve in my back. If he means hyper-extension in my back, then I don’t. But if he means flexion (bending forward) then that seems to go against what I’ve been taught. Any thoughts?
Also, if I increase my Range of Motion by using a box or something, what back angle would I use to get hamstrings burning?


Thanks guys. It’s funny how my education so far has overlooked strict squat and deadlift form. Frustrating when a teacher says that dead’s are too hard on the back and not worth doing.

I’m guessing the reason your lower back is sore is because it’s rounding at the bottom of your SLDL. You could also give Keystone DL’s a try. From a standing position, arch your back so that your ass and stomach stick out. This will pre-stretch your hamstrings so you don’t have to use as great of an ROM. Then lower the weight down to around your knees and come back up.

I second Kelly’s advice. It’s probably due to technique. If you do the stiff-legged deadlift correctly, you will feel it immediately and with very little weight! It is all in the hips! Bring the hips back first. You should feel it even without weight if done properly. And you don’t have to bring the bar all the way down because it will hurt so good!

what’s wrong with feeling it in your lower back and your hamstrings. you are supposed to feel it in those 2 muscle groups. on a good set of regular deadlifts i feel it in my hams, lower back, and shoulders. That’s why they are called compound movements. Quit trying to isolate. Do curls if you want to isolate, and no one ever said that you should leave curls out of your routines. you work the muscle ina different matter. I feel my lower back when i do full range squats all the time. If i feel it that means that i’m working the muscle and getting stronger there also. as long as you feel the stretch in the hams then you are working it fine. Just keep increasing your volume. laters pk

My back is pretty much as stiff as board. If anything, my shoulder girdle is too relaxed, but my erectors stay tight and the back stays straight.
I think the culprit is not leading with the hips. When the bar drifts away from my body, I think my back takes the majority of the load. Thanks for all the help. I’ll look for more suggestions. Peace.

Assuming your using the classical (i.e., arched back, head up, slight bent) form, perhaps you are not going deep enough to hit the hammies. Try doing them standing on a box and going “deeeeeeep!!!”. You might even try doing a limited range of motion from the bottom(e.g., going up only 3/4 ) to give the hammies superpriority over the erectors. Also, a great accessory exercise for the hammies are “glute-ham raises”. You get do them high intensity (i.e., high load), with a slower tempo. Or, low intensity with an accelerated concentric.

Yeah man, I think box deads are what’s in order. And I’ll go as deeeeeeeep as possible. Thanks.

pk, re-read the post. I feel it in my lower back, but not my hams. Any thoughts?

for some reason in my original response I did not even consider flexability. are you VERY flexable in your hams? if you are then you will “feel” it more in your erectors but that does NOT mean you are working your hams any less. if you can put your chin to your knees then that would be my belated explanation (I dissapoint myself sometimes, whether I am correct or not I can not believe I did NOT mention that earlier) peace my man peace

Many people have mentioned form and I’m with them. Many people do SLDL but few do them to properly hit the hams. Listen to Kelly Bagget and Nate. Kelly has the form and Nate solidifies two key points, you don’t have to go all the way down when doing SLDL correctly (or up for that matter) and you don’t need a ton of weight.