The One Exercise Move Even The Pros Get Wrong


It seems like an easy one, but if your form is even just a little bit off with this move you run the risk of straining your back and taxing the wrong muscle group. I’m talking about deadlifts, people! More specifically, stiff leg deadlifts. Here’s what you might be doing wrong and how to do them right.

What Most People Do Wrong

They Round Their Back I’ve seen countless people—even trained fitness instructors—round their back when they lift the weight off the ground.

They Bend Over Instead of keeping their back straight and sliding their hips back, many people try to bend over, which could lead to injury.  

They Don’t Use Enough Weight With this move, more resistance (within reason) will actually ensure better technique.

They Have Active Arms Adding in a shoulder shrug or contracting the biceps… No. No. No!

Form is key with the stiff leg deadlift. (Courtesy of Harley Pasternak)

How to Do it Right

While it looks like a lower back exercise, the stiff leg deadlift is actually a hamstring-focussed moved. When done properly, you will also access your glutes.

Ready to give it a try? Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, or use a barbell. If using dumbbells, your palms should be oblique to the fronts of your thighs. If using a barbell, have your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the bar, with your hands facing in opposite directions.

Keeping your bodyweight in the heels of your feet, your head up, and shoulders back, inhale and slide your hips back as you hinge forward, sliding the weights along your thighs. Then, making sure your core is tight and your shoulder blades are retracted, exhale as you rise back up, bringing the weights with you. Imagine that your hips are on a track and slide your hips forward as you bring the weights back up.


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