T Nation

How Important are Stiff Leg Deadlifts?

for a long time they have been a staple of my leg days along with back squats. but i cant do them right, no mater how hard i try my back still rounds at the beginning of the movement and i feel it working my lower back way more than my hamstrings.

i do regular deadlifts on my back day, which i have no problem with. i feel them working my legs way more than my stiff legged ones.

are they that effective that i should learn how to do them right, or is there something else i can replace them with to target my hamstrings? do i even need another exercise, or are deep squats enough for my hamstrings?

right now, a typciall leg day for me looks like this:

back squats
s.l.d.l.
leg press
lunges
then some calf work

i do about 3 sets of 8-10 reps per exercise

leg press and lunges and squats are typically pretty quad dominant exercises, so i do want to put something in there for my hamstrings.

if SLDL’s aren’t working for you don’t do them.

I personally like RDL’s way better (basically you allow a slight knee bend). They really can tear up your hams, its a painful/awesome feeling the first couple times you do them.

That said RDL’s are my absolute favorite hamstring/glute exercise. Make sure your not just lowering the weight, but focus on shoving your butt back as far as possible, the weight should pretty much go straight down along your leg and provide a big stretch in your hams. Again, you are not lowering the weight so much as you are bending at the hip and pushing your butt back, which will cause the weight to lower. Your legs will not be perfectly straight, but they will be fairly straight (my knees are roughly 30 degrees by the bottom of the movement, you are not actively trying to bend them they just bend naturally when your butt goes backward). When coming back up don’t think about lifting the weight up think about flexing your butt hard and thrusting your hip forward, while you keep your back as straight as possible.

You will still feel your lower back get worked some, especially once your using a decent amount of work. That is fine.

And no I don’t think just squats will work your hamstrings efficiently.

Try something else.
OR…
SDLs are, for me at least, tricky, since unless I use the correct weight (65-70% 1RM for me), and really concentrate on flexing my hams and glutes hard to pull the weight the whole time, my lower back does too much of the work, like you describe it.
The first time I did it that way, the DOMS were unreal.

They’re far from irreplaceable.

Keep your shoulders back. If your shoulders round on SLDLs, your back will too. Try a wider grip and a narrower stance. You may not have the flexibility to reach the floor, but you’ll get the correct feel.

thanks for the advice. what exercises would you people suggest to replace SLDL in my workout, besides RDL?

Good morning or RDL

[quote]docthal wrote:
for a long time they have been a staple of my leg days along with back squats. but i cant do them right, no mater how hard i try my back still rounds at the beginning of the movement and i feel it working my lower back way more than my hamstrings.
[/quote]

  1. Do you do much mobility work for hips, if not start now
  2. Consider using straps, 1 less thing to worry about when working on form
  3. If back is rounding, you are probably not pushing your but back enough and chin not far enough forward
  4. Lower the load

See 2&4 as temporary measures

There is a really good Dan Jon video podcast on how to do them properly, try and find it

[quote]docthal wrote:
thanks for the advice. what exercises would you people suggest to replace SLDL in my workout, besides RDL?[/quote]

Cable pullthroughs

[quote]roybot wrote:
Keep your shoulders back. If your shoulders round on SLDLs, your back will too. Try a wider grip and a narrower stance. You may not have the flexibility to reach the floor, but you’ll get the correct feel. [/quote]

Can people actually reach the floor without their lower back coming out of extension? That seems almost physically impossible. You want to go as low as possible but not at the risk of compromising your lower back.

[quote]Quasi-Tech wrote:

[quote]roybot wrote:
Keep your shoulders back. If your shoulders round on SLDLs, your back will too. Try a wider grip and a narrower stance. You may not have the flexibility to reach the floor, but you’ll get the correct feel. [/quote]

Can people actually reach the floor without their lower back coming out of extension? That seems almost physically impossible. You want to go as low as possible but not at the risk of compromising your lower back.[/quote]

Depends on how flexible your hamstrings are. I can touch my palms to the floor, and had to do mine elevated to feel it. If your flexibility is poor, then your back will round excessively to compensate. You’ll feel it more in your lower back if you’re leading with it.

Glute ham raise

If you want to practice feelings your hamstrings do the work on SDLs. Superset them with leg curls. Do a set of leg curls then do light SDLs and put your toes on plates which will force you to lean back and get a more worser stretch in your hammies. Its lovely

[quote]roybot wrote:

[quote]Quasi-Tech wrote:

[quote]roybot wrote:
Keep your shoulders back. If your shoulders round on SLDLs, your back will too. Try a wider grip and a narrower stance. You may not have the flexibility to reach the floor, but you’ll get the correct feel. [/quote]

Can people actually reach the floor without their lower back coming out of extension? That seems almost physically impossible. You want to go as low as possible but not at the risk of compromising your lower back.[/quote]

Depends on how flexible your hamstrings are. I can touch my palms to the floor, and had to do mine elevated to feel it. If your flexibility is poor, then your back will round excessively to compensate. You’ll feel it more in your lower back if you’re leading with it. [/quote]

I have terrible flexibility so I don’t do SLDL’s but for me RDL’s are a must. I actually do them fairly close to an SDL with only a very slight unlocking of my knee and hit the floor with the 45’s which is just short of my lower back rounding out(have 2 herniated discs for about 30 yrs).
I notice when I start getting strong and going heavy on these, (for me anyway,385x3,275x20), I start to get thicker and stronger all over and my squats go up as the RDL’s go up.
So for me I have to do them. I guess it’s individual.

[quote]docthal wrote:
for a long time they have been a staple of my leg days along with back squats. but i cant do them right, no mater how hard i try my back still rounds at the beginning of the movement and i feel it working my lower back way more than my hamstrings. [/quote]

I have done elevated ‘Rounded back straight-leg deadlifts’ for over twenty years. IMO…they are the best hamstring movement and I have never felt them in my low back. I like RDL’s and Good Morning as well, but they do not seem to ‘hit’ my hamstrings the way straight-leg does. That doesn’t mean I think they are best for everyone…

"The straight leg deadlift with a rounded back is suggested by other experts including Greg Shepard, the Author of Bigger Faster Stronger, pg 90-91. His program has been used by more than 9000 high schools over the past 30 years.

In first edition of “Strength Training for Young Athletes” by Kraemer and Fleck, the cover states "Includes over 100 safe exercises for 18 muscle groups and 16 sports. They include two exercise similar to the straight leg deadlift:

Page 96: Rounded-back Good Morning Exercise
Page 97: Rounded-back Stiff-Legged Deadlift
In their book, the illustration of the Rounded-back Stiff-Legged Deadlift appears as though the boy was using 135 lbs. Dr. Fleck and Dr. Kraemer’s credentials are impeccable.

Experts such as Fleck and Nelson, as well as the ACSM weight training guidelines all recommend implementing full range of motion resistive exercises."

Ever tried SLDL with dumbbells?

you can try glute ham raises and leg curls instead.However it would be wiser to learn the deadlift correctly perform it for some time and see if it works for you.