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Replacement for Stiff-Leg DL/Squats?


So I've been doing this lately for my leg day:

Squats (2x8-10)
Leg Press (2x8-10)
Leg Extensions (2x8-10)

Seated Hamstring Curl (2x8-10)
Stiff-Legged Deadlift (2x8-10)

Seated Calf (2x15-17)
Smith machine calf raises (2x12-14)

Works great and I see nice gains. But:

I dislike Stiff-Legged deadlifts with a passion. I just can not get them working and I always feel the effect in my lower back. I've read lots of guides and I've tried reduing my weights, elevating my toes, bending my knees slightly and all that jazz. Im quite tall at 6'4 and I believe this is why I cant get it working properly.

Will my routine suffer if I just remove that one completely? Can it be replaced somewhat by say adding another set or two to my curls? (The later questions feels like a "no", but I'm throwing it out there)

As for squats, I have issues with a inflammation behind my right kneecap. I've had this on and off since I was 14 (29 now) and did a lot of various sports at the time that "messed up" that knee. I see gains in squats, but I need to take weeks of squats now and then to let it rest and and for the pain to pass. Then rinse and repeat. Tried therapy for it, but it did not help. Apparently its a common thing and I just have to feel it out myself.

I like doing squats and I got the technique down (got a good spotter), but if I can get more steady gains somewhere else then I'm up for it. It not a goal of mine to be awesome at squats anyhow so I don't mind not doing it.

Hope someone can help out :).


With SLDL I always had trouble feeling them until I heard someone tell another person to sit back. To effectively hit your hamstrings your ass has to sit back just like it would in a squat, except your legs will stay straight. Hope that helps.

And as for the knee pain I'm no doctor but try taking fish oils or joint support as In my opinion there is no replacement for squats.


By "sit back" do you mean with your knee's bent?

I eat fishoils like there is no tomorrow. 2x the recommended daily dose for 3 years now :).


Have you tried swapping the straight legs for romanian deadlift?



i've had similar issues in the past. theres a good article by Dan John on here that should help explain it. It's about swings but it's kind of the same movement pattern as stiff legged deads;


the wall drill worked pretty well for me - you can keep your legs/knees locked straight but kick your hips/ass back and it should produce a lot of tension on the hamstrings. the article explains it better than me.

i don't know if your height could be an issue - but if the article doesn't help and it's not the hinging movement pattern thats the problem then possible alternatives would be good mornings, kettlebell swings, glute ham raises


Stand up right now and keep your legs locked out and straight. Push your hips back. You'll see what I mean instantly.


this will really help

i had similar problems before but now my hamstrings are cooked after 3-4 sets of these

Personally i prefer a little knee bend and i focus and kicking the hips back, keeping the same bend in the knee for the entire motion, and then just focusing on keeping the bar as close to my knees as possible.v

Another thing that helps is not going to heavy, i find if i put too much weight on the bar my lower back takes over and form deteriorates a bit. I also do these very slowly to make sure i feel the muscle working as much as possible and dont fully lockout at the top unlike in a convertional dead.


Depdns on why your doing them in the first place

if your doing them for pure hamstring growth then i would say change to something that you feel a lot more

if your doing them to improve your squat then id change to good mornings


I'm going to look into everything offered here so thank you for the advice so far. I think I've kept my legs far to locked/stiff. I see now that it's not really about that, so hopefully I can get this one working to its full effect now.

@Blackaggar - Pure hamstring growth really, but I've not seen a lot of other options that will hit the same spot


yeah if thats your goal then just do a lot of experiementation


Have you tried these? It is a good morning but using the Hack Squat Machine. I started doing these a few months back as I am trying to grow my hamstrings as well. I can say these have been really helpful since I can load a lot more weight on my hamstrings without having to focus on so many other factors.


OH MY GAWD! Wow. That looks... effective.
I was coming in with Good Mornings as my answer but um...


The pain behind your patella sounds like chondromalacia. Google it.
It's common among young athletes and can require surgery in severe cases.

Your patellar and quad tendons are probably tight. You'll need to really begin a good stretching program of your quads after each training session. Be sure you stretch the rectus femoris thoroughly to reduce some of that tension on the patella.

Also, see s sports med specialist about the possibility of your patella tracking wrong. A simple and somewhat painful manipulation can work wonders immediately.

One more thing... when performing Leg Extensions, be sure your ROM doesn't include your lower legs going UNDER the bench. Try to only go to a 90 degree bend at most.


This too in terms of hamstring growth it tends to be a lot more focused on feeling it than rather pounding the shit out of them with heavy weights. If you were looking for strength and getting better at squatting and deadlifting, GM's are the best answer.


@BlakeAJackson: Thats one of those things where you dont know if someone is joking with you or if its actually the new thing :).

"Look now, I'll convince some random guy over the internet to go try this out at his gym :D".

Seriously tho I can actually see that working. Kudos for thinking outside the box :slight_smile:


If you drop RDL's you will not have any movements directly targeting hip extension/glute development. Another alternative is to look into BB Hip Thrusts or weighted reverse hypers. Though, the best thing you can do is get a video of your RDLs and post them back in this thread.

For your knee I 100% would say start taking glucosamine daily. You'll have to give it about a month to notice the effects, but boy will you notice a difference.