This is a complex movement and takes practice before attempting to move heavy weight. This movement can be mastered using only your own bodyweight first to avoid injury. When used correctly this deadlift exercise can provide muscular strength in nearly all muscles and can be used as a lower back workout which is important to all aspects of fitness.
Muscles Used in the Stiff-Legged Deadlift:
Every major muscle group and balanced distribution of muscles worked are found with the Traditional Deadlift as opposed to the “Sumo” and “Stiff-Legged” (Romanian) Deadlifts.
• Begin by standing in front of a barbell on the ground, feet slightly wider
than shoulder width, with toes pointed slight out.
• If you find this exercise too challenging for the mechanics of your legs, try
moving feet wider as this will open up your thighs and increase your base of
• Your shins should be touching or very close to the barbell.
• Squat down so you can comfortably grip the bar with arms remaining
• One hand should be using a supinated grip (palms up) while the other using
a pronated grip (overhand grip).
• Grip should be shoulder width or slightly wider if this is more comfortable.
• Be sure to keep your buttocks low to the ground.
• Upper body and head should be straight with an upright posture and tight
• Your chest and buttocks should look as if you are sticking them out on
• Begin by contracting your traps and tensing the connection between the bar
and your arms.
• Drive your heels into the ground and contract your buttocks while extending
at the knees.
• The two previous steps should be done essentially at the same time (this is
where practice comes in).
• Keep chest out, keep a slight arch in the small of your back, and don’t round
the back! This is the most common mistake and will inevitably lead to
• Always concentrate on keeping your buttocks low and this will reduce
rounding of the back.
• Throughout movement keep the bar as close to your body as possible. Even
letting the bar ride up your shins and thighs is ideal (wear pants or this
• Abs should be contracted throughout the movement. This is important as it
will keep the pressure around your core tight. It is your “natural belt” which
mimics many common power lifting belts.
• As you begin to reach the end of the movement, be sure to not lean
forward. Lean back slightly as knees are full extended. This is the end of
the concentric movement.
• If you feel your core is weak, strengthen your lower back and abdominals
first and then attempt the dead lift exercise.
• Slowly lower the bar with your chest and buttocks sticking out.
• Make sure your body is upright!
• It is ideal to lower the bar as close to your legs as you can, just as in the
• It helps to keep upright posture by looking up to the ceiling while lowering
the weight (Neck extension naturally influences the rest of the spine to
• Make sure buttocks stays lower than your upper body as you descend
• Movement is complete when weight touches the ground. Avoid dropping the
weight to the ground as this can damage the floor and very unpleasant to
fellow gym members.
• This movement is very unnatural to most and will not come easily. Form
must be learned before attempting this exercise! Try looking at yourself in
the mirror while practicing with no added weight.
• This is a high intensity exercise as almost every major muscle is being
worked! Be sure to have lots of energy and focus when performing the
• Be sure to inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up! If you hold
your breath in you risk passing out in the middle of the movement due to
built up pressure in your body!
Simply do without the belt for lighter sets leading up to the heavy sets at which time you can put the belt on. This will keep you safe without having the core weakness associated with using a belt.
The best belts are the thick powerlifting style belts that are just as wide in the front as they are in the back. This allows you to push your stomach against the belt and provide more support for the lower back. I suggest you avoid the thin weight lifting belts that are pretty common in department stores. If you are interested in weight lifting belts you can find them in the Fitness Store.
Here is a video to assist you in learning the proper form for stiff-legged deadlifts: