Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlift: How To, Benefits, Muscles Worked

Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlift: How To, Benefits, Muscles Worked

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The stiff leg dumbbell deadlift is an alternative variation of the most common exercise in all gyms. By working with dumbbells instead of a barbell, you increase your range of motion by a few precious centimeters and put more stress on your stabilizing muscles, which leads to improved athletic performance.

This article will focus on how to do deadlifts with dumbbells correctly and also, what is the use of this exercise and why it should be used in your workouts.

Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlift Muscles Worked

The dumbbell deadlift, along with the squat, is the most basic exercise in the entire arsenal. Some experts cite the figure at 90%. It is this part of the muscle groups of our body that this exercise loads. Of course, the load is mostly static in nature, but the fact remains that stiff leg dumbbell deadlifts can tone and fit almost all of the muscles of a poorly trained or novice athlete’s body.

With dumbbell stiff leg deadlift (also known as the romanian deadlift), the movement is performed at the expense of the biceps of the thigh and gluteal muscles, and the quadriceps is not involved in the movement. You can also do deadlifts with dumbbells on one leg, this will allow you to stretch the hamstrings even more in the first phase of the movement.

The abdominal muscles, calf muscles and upper back (lats, rhomboid and trapezius muscles) serve as stabilizers for the bigger muscles.

Benefits and Contraindications

By working with dumbbells instead of a barbell, you can increase your range of motion and include more worked muscle fibers in the process. Apart from this main advantage, the exercise has a number of positive aspects.


Regular work with dumbbells helps athletes to increase their strength in the deadlift with a barbell.

In addition, in stiff leg dumbbell deadlift, a large proportion of the load falls on the stabilizing muscles, in particular, the core muscles. This makes our body more prepared for heavy strength work, and exercises such as squats or towing a tire are much easier for athletes.

When performing a romanian deadlift, you do not need to use a huge working weight, it is better to work in a high repetition range (from 12 and above), concentrate on stretching and contracting the working muscles and adhere to the correct technique of performing the exercise. This will strengthen the muscles in the legs and back and give the body a sporty silhouette. For this reason, stiff leg deadlifts with dumbbells are great for women. The exercise is extremely effective, fairly straightforward from the point of view of regarding the correct technique and also the risk of injury while performing it is minimal.


But as in any basic exercise, there are a number of contraindications. Some athletes are strongly discouraged from performing dumbbell deadlifts. If you perform this exercise with an excessively large working weight, then many beginners use the wrong posture, this will lead to a violation of the technique, and the lower back will be rounded at the lower point of the amplitude. The axial load on the spine with this moment is simply catastrophic, so the romanian deadlift with dumbbells is extremely not recommended for people with the following diseases:

  • Intervertebral hernias or protrusions in the lumbar spine;
  • Scoliosis;
  • Excessive kyphosis;
  • Lordoz;
  • Also with other muscular or joint underlying conditions.

stiff leg dumbbell deadlift muscles worked

Technique of Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift

The technique of performing stiff leg dumbbell deadlift is done with the following algorithm:

  1. Take the dumbbells from the racks. The starting position is exactly the same as in the classic deadlift with dumbbells.
  2. Place the dumbbells slightly in front of you and, without bending your knees, pull your buttocks back as much as possible. Gradually begin to descend. The movement is not so much a forward tilt as a backward movement of the buttocks, so the amplitude of movement in different athletes may be different, depending solely on the athlete’s flexibility. Dumbbells should be kept as close to the body as possible and not brought forward – this will shift the load from the biceps of the thigh and buttocks to the extensors of the spine. This phase of movement is accompanied by an inspiration.
  3. Lower down until you feel a strong stretch in the buttocks and back of the thigh. If you are not very successful, and the desired burning sensation is not achieved, then the neuromuscular connection with the biceps of the thigh is not sufficiently developed. Try to do a preliminary fatigue – 3-4 sets of bends lying down and sitting in the simulators, after that you will be able to fully experience the biomechanics of this movement once the relevant stabilizing muscles have grown.
  4. Return to the starting position without relaxing the biceps of the thigh. You do not need to fully straighten up at the top point, as it is better to leave a slight forward tilt – this will keep the working muscles in constant tension and increase the effectiveness of this exercise and lead to greater muscle hypertrophy.

A more advanced variation of this exercise is the deadlift with dumbbells on one leg. It is performed according to the same technical principles, but requires much more concentration on the working muscles, otherwise you will simply lose your balance, and the whole approach will go down the drain. Also, having well devolved stabilizing muscles for this exercise is a must to avoid any unnecessary injuries.

Common Beginner Mistakes

Let’s look at some of the most popular mistakes made by beginners while performing the dumbbell stiff leg deadlift.

Incorrect Back Position

The most common mistake of novice athletes that occurs when performing this exercise is the wrong position of the back. An athlete tries to perform a deadlift with heavy dumbbells, not realizing that if the correct technique is not followed, such exercises lose 99% of their effectiveness. The athlete is very hunched and bends their back, which often leads to serious injuries.

Incorrect Dumbbell Position

Another common mistake is the wrong position of the dumbbells. Dumbbells should be placed close to the body and not outweigh the athlete forward, this way the movement will be synchronous and safe. If you bring too heavy dumbbells forward, the shoulder blades will fall down, the upper back will be rounded, and you will “pull the hump”. On small scales, this is not critical, although it is undesirable. But if you are already a trained athlete and work with really heavy dumbbells, sooner or later it will lead to an injury.

Equipment Abuse

Another common mistake is the abuse of equipment. This is especially true for the athletic belt, which is designed to protect us from the occurrence of an umbilical hernia, but in fact only changes all our anatomical angles when performing deadlifts. It is better not to chase extreme weights in this exercise and work as “clean” as possible, then you will reduce the risk of injury to almost zero, and the need for a belt will disappear by itself.

Spine Deflection

Another problem is a bend in the cervical spine. This error is especially common in stooped people. Stiff leg dumbbell deadlift is a basic exercise that involves almost all the muscle groups within the body, and the neck muscles are no exception. Incorrect position of the head and neck can lead to neuralgia of the cervical nerve or the cervical spine.

Remember that in the basic exercises, the gaze should be directed forward or slightly upward, then the neck will be in the correct position throughout the entire movement, which will avoid injuries..

stiff leg deadlift dumbbell for women

Stiff Leg Deadlift Dumbbell for Women

This exercise is great for both men and women, and many representatives of the fair sex consider it one of their favorites. And they have every reason to do so.

  1. Dumbbell stiff leg deadlift for women opens up great opportunities in shaping the perfect body. The romanian deadlift allows you to work out the gluteal muscles and the back of the thigh perfectly. The muscles quickly become toned, the subcutaneous fat layer gradually decreases, cellulite and striae disappear, and the thighs gradually begin to take on a sporty appearance. To do the same with a barbell is a little more difficult, since there are too many subtleties and pitfalls in the deadlift with a barbell, which even many gym workers do not know about. But we should not forget about working out the front part of the thigh to avoid a disparity in the development of the athletic body.
  2. Romanian deadlifts with dumbbells allows you to strengthen all the muscles of the core and make a kind of power frame, which is simply necessary for full-fledged strength training with weights. We are talking about the extensors of the spine, the rectus and oblique abdominal muscles and intercostal muscles. If a woman has these muscle groups that are not in good shape, there is no question of technically correct and productive performance of squats and lunges with a barbell or leg press in the simulator.
  3. The weight of the dumbbells in the described exercise should be symbolic. The girl does not need to chase to huge weights, it is much more important to always follow the correct technique and not to slow down the overall intensity of the workout. Then sports results will not take too long to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift?

Dumbbell stiff leg deadlift is a very effective strength exercise that helps to develop the muscles of the back, back of the thigh and buttocks.

How to do a Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift?

Starting position: take the dumbbells with a neutral grip and stand up straight. Put your feet shoulder-width apart or a little narrower.

The technique of the exercise: On the inhale, pulling the pelvis back and leaning forward, gently lower the dumbbells down. On the exhalation, return to the starting position.

What Muscles do the Stiff Leg Deadlifts with Dumbbells Work?

The Stiff leg dumbbell deadlift is one of the best exercises to train your biceps thighs and glutes. Also, an additional load in this exercise is received by the lower back.

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