T Nation

RDL, Stiff-Legged Dead Loading


Does anyone go heavy on these exercises?

I was planning on taking it up to 4-6 rep territory, but something feels like it MAY not be a good idea. I just thought I'd ask others to see if the more experienced guys do or don't and for what reasons.


Yep...i usually do the SDL version of the lift, standing on a box @170 lbs i usually go 4-6 reps w/ 255 (even though thats nothing special, lol)


That's exactly the load I did today for 5x6 RDL. I'm just worried it will do more harm than good when I start pushing it up to 275-285 territory and if I should just rely on my hams to get stronger as a side effect of real deadlifting and such.


I don't see the problem in doing these for 4-5x6..as long as your form is good to go..i don't see the problem at all. I've done them with 315 before. Not really an exercise I do. mostly do natural glute ham raises, deep squats, reg. deadlifts and stiff leg deads hits my hammies and low back hard.


I i agree with him ^^ up there...if your worried in going to heavy, maybe wearing a belt could give you a boost of confidence and safety for targeting your hams and glutes with out overstressing your lumbar


I prefer going heavy with low reps (3-6) on stiff leg deads. Find that doing more reps starts to get uncomfortable for form.

Last time I was going SL Deads I was going for 4 reps at 150kg (about 2 months ago).


Well my concern was really that sheer stress on the spine. You guys all seem to be fine with it though, so I think I'll keep at it until/unless something explicitly tells me to stop.


I just bumped the weight up on my SLDL's.

Currently doing 315lbsx3. If my callous' stop ripping off i should be able to handle another rep or 2. I have had a shitty lower back ever since i was 11years old, but going heavy on these hasn't hurt me yet. It feels good, actually. I see no reason why going heavy on these would be worse then going heavy on regular DL's, just gotta keep your back straight and lower the weight slowly.


It needs to be kept in mind that some people's idea of Romanians, and many people's idea of SLDL's, do not involve keeping the back straight.

I have no way of knowing what the OP means by a Romanian.

Myself, I consider the correct method to aim to achieve strong stretch at the hamstrings with the bar at the highest position possible. In my case, that is just below the knees. For a person with more flexibility it would be lower. When done in this way, then as you say there is no regard in which this is more problematic for the back than traditional deadlifts. Personally I use the same weight and have no concern about going to triples. Really wouldn't have a concern about doing singles, but just have never chosen to.


Neutral back posture, with all the normal curves in place, not straight like a board.


Yes, I should have been clearer: I did not mean straight like a board, but rather, not curved over, not losing the natural arch of the lower back nor letting the upper back flop like a noodle.


Was addressing one of the guys above who was worried about sheer stress. Hadn't seen your post when I posted that response.

Generally for SL deads, I get people (as I do), to push their bum back a bit first while keeping the legs straight (passive hip extension). This helps to balance the center of gravity of the body during the exercise and assists in preventing the faulty rounding patterns that you described.

edit: also get people using this technique for good mornings (I was up to 100kg for 4 reps last time I did GMs).


I meant as a RDL, having a slight bend at the knees, straight back, slight "sit", bar pulling down for less than a maximal stretch of the hams.

I used to use nothing bigger than 25lb plates to let myself SLDL right down, bar to toes.

The RDL I'm describing is only coming down to, at most, halfway down the shin.


RDL is excellent to go heavy with... Right now I'm using 405 in the 6-8 rep range. I keep my back neutral, push my ass out getting a deep stretch in the hams with "loose" knees and then hump the bar up. I feel like my hams could handle more but my back/core in general starts losing it in the last reps.


This is my easiest lift to progress on. Been training about a year on it and have done 160kg for 8. Never used more than 8 reps per set. Have gone as low as 3 rep sets but ego takes over and form was sacrificed a little. I usually do a 5 or 6 straight sets of 8 one week, 6 x 7 reps the next week, and 3 x 6 reps the following week. Brutal but yielded fantastic gains for me.


I've been doing sldl's for about 6 or so months now and I've worked up to 295x5 before with no problems.


I've been doing sldl's for about 6 or so months now and I've work up to 295x5 with no problems.


Once I started getting my SLDL in the 300's, I switched over to RDL. I do them how Bill described them. I feel a full stretch just past my knees and sometimes a little lower. I am VERY flexible and still get a good stretch here. I just focuse on sitting my ass as far back as I can.

Personally, I don't feel any danger from RDLs as I did with the SLDL. It may be a mental thing, because of my prior knee injuries leave me feeling insecure with my legs locked out.


SLDL can mean stiff leg dl, not just straight leg. Personally, I like to keep a slight bend in my knees, so I guess its basically the same thing as RDL.


I use this movement in all it's variations and with many weight & rep patterns.

Typical Heavy Work:
RDL-floor (neutral back, loose knees, butt back, hook grip) plates to the floor- 410x 3-5reps.

SLD-elevated (rounded back, locked knees, butt back, straps) bar to my toes- 340x 3-5 reps.