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Stiff Leg DL Question

I just started to incorporate stiff leg deadlifts into my training program because I really want to target my hamstrings. My max deadlift is around 500, and I have been doing 3 sets of 10 with 315 with the stiff leg DLs. 315 for 3x10 feels light, but I am afraid to go any heavier for fear I will screw up my back.

I have heard mixed opinions about this exercise, but I have done no other exercise that targets my hamstrings as well as this exercise. Is it ok to be doing this exercise with this kind of weight as long as I keep my form strict, or should I eliminate this exercise because from what I hear, it can screw up your back even if your form is strict? What are your opinions?

Perhaps you have SLDLs confused with RDLs?

Are your legs straight or bent?

So long as you maintain a neutral spine, you should be fine. Focus on pulling the hips back instead of lowering the bar.

Still, if you have any history of back problems, avoid SLDLs and stick with RDLs.

I really like this exercise too for the same reason, it hits my hamstrings like no other. In my own opinion, with strict form you should be ok with that weight. Then again I’m not using that kind of weight but I have read other guys on here that use that much weight for this exercise with no complaints. If going “heavy” on this exercise is bad even with strict form then I too would like to know.


Here is the bottom end of an RDL by a guy who knows a thing or two about lifting heavy stuff.

Honestly I prefer Romanian DL’s to stiff legged. I find it targets the hams more without straining the lower back. If you haven’t, try those out next time instead of SDLs.

Here is a stiff legged deadlift. (Her legs are not the only thing that is stiff.) Note the differences.

I used to do RDLs, to right below my knees, and I found this targeted my lower back much more than it did my hamstrings. I usually go much heavier on my RDLs; for instance, 3 sets of 8 with 405-425. I have taken out RDLs for now and replaced them with Goodmornings. ALso, is there any real difference between a RDL, and a rackpull? I know with the rackpull you can set the pins to any lvl, but is that the only difference?

If you use good technique you’ll be fine. I don’t feel anything in my lower back when I do these.

I get stiff legged and romanian mixed up, but the version where your knees are not locked out and you only go down as far that 1) you keep neutral spine and 2) you feel a stretch in your hamstrings and then change direction is the version I use.

[quote]DeanoT wrote:
I used to do RDLs, to right below my knees, and I found this targeted my lower back much more than it did my hamstrings. I usually go much heavier on my RDLs; for instance, 3 sets of 8 with 405-425. I have taken out RDLs for now and replaced them with Goodmornings. ALso, is there any real difference between a RDL, and a rackpull? I know with the rackpull you can set the pins to any lvl, but is that the only difference?[/quote]

You are not doing the RDL’s correctly and this is why you are feeling it more in your back. Also if your max is 500x1 on a real deadlift, you will not use 405 for RDL’s for sets of 8, you’ll go much lighter. My guess is you are letting your knees move forward. When you do an RDL do not let the knees move forward at all. You can pratice this by putting a bar just below your knees (say in the power rack) and then bend down like you were touching your toes. You can bend your knees they don’t go forward, your shins should be vertical.

You should feel a major stretch in your hamstrings as you go down. Note the picture that someone posted. In a rack pull your knees should be somewhat forward. An RDL looks just like a good morning but the bar is in your hands instead of on your back.

When I do my RDls I have been doing them just like a good morning w/ a slight bend in my knees. I havn’t been bending my knees any further than this. Maybe it is that I have long arms, and I do not need to move the bar as far. When I do A RDL, my ROM is about 5 inches from lockout to the bottom of my knee.

[quote]nptitim wrote:
You are not doing the RDL’s correctly and this is why you are feeling it more in your back. Also if your max is 500x1 on a real deadlift, you will not use 405 for RDL’s for sets of 8, you’ll go much lighter. My guess is you are letting your knees move forward. When you do an RDL do not let the knees move forward at all. You can pratice this by putting a bar just below your knees (say in the power rack) and then bend down like you were touching your toes. You can bend your knees they don’t go forward, your shins should be vertical.

You should feel a major stretch in your hamstrings as you go down. Note the picture that someone posted. In a rack pull your knees should be somewhat forward. An RDL looks just like a good morning but the bar is in your hands instead of on your back.[/quote]

315 x 10 is pretty good. I just got to 315x1 and I was happy.

[quote]DeanoT wrote:
When I do my RDls I have been doing them just like a good morning w/ a slight bend in my knees. I havn’t been bending my knees any further than this. Maybe it is that I have long arms, and I do not need to move the bar as far. When I do A RDL, my ROM is about 5 inches from lockout to the bottom of my knee.

[/quote]

You can go down as far as you want with an RDL, the bottom of the knee is just a guideline. I am inflexible and even I can go down way more than that. The point is imagine you were taking a bow and stucking your butt back, with your head up still looking at the crowd. Bend over far enough to feel a stretch in the hamstrings without rounding your back. Then go down that far.

If you have normal flexibility I would say you will get to mid shin or a little lower, if you are quite flexible you might need to stand on a step or something to get a better ROM. Another simple guideline is this should be significantly harder than a regular deadlift, if it is not you are doing something wrong, either with the RDL or with your regular deadlift

You won’t feel much of a stress in your hamstrings when you bend your knees.

I tried the stiff legged version, with locked knees, but didn’t like they way my knees felt afterwards.

So now I do it with slightly bend knees, lowering the bar to just below the knees.