Stiff-Legged Deadlift: Muscles Worked & Technique

Stiff-Legged Deadlift exercise technique

Muscles Worked in Stiff-Legged Deadlifts

Muscles worked by stiff-legged deadlifts exercise

Primary muscles worked:

Secondary muscles worked:

How to Do Stiff-Legged Deadlifts

  • Step up close to the bar, so that it is about over the middle of your foot.
  • Breathe in, lean forward with as straight legs as possible, and grip the bar.
  • Hold your breath, brace your core slightly, and lift the bar.
  • Pull the bar close to your body, with a straight back, until you are standing straight.
  • Lower the bar back to the ground with control, still keeping your legs straight.
  • Take another breath, and repeat for reps.


Stiff-legged deadlifts (or straight-legged deadlifts) is a variation of the deadlift, where you almost entirely have shifted the work to your posterior chain. This exercise requires good mobility to be performed without rounding your back excessively, and an alternative is to raise the bar up on blocks, plates, or a rack in order to decrease the range of motion slightly.

Difference Between Stiff-Legged Deadlifts and Romanian Deadlifts

Stiff-legged deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts are very similar in technique, with the difference that stiff-legged deadlifts usually begin and end with the barbell on the floor. In the Romanian deadlift, this is not necessary; you can reverse the rep before you hit the floor, and only put the bar back on the floor (or in a rack) when your set is finished.

stiff-legged deadlifts
Stiff-legged deadlifts are done from floor-to-floor.
Romanian deadlift exercise
Romanian deadlifts are done from top-to-top, without necessarily touching the floor in between reps.

Which Muscles Does Stiff-Legged Deadlifts Work?

The primary muscles worked in the stiff-legged deadlift are your glutes and hamstrings which extend your hip, and your lower back which keeps your spine in a straight position.

Secondary muscles worked in the stiff-legged deadlift are your adductors which aid in hip extension, your trapezius that supports your shoulders, and your grip muscles (unless you are using lifting straps) that hold the barbell.

Muscles worked by stiff-legged deadlifts exercise
Muscles worked in the stiff-legged deadlift.

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