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Deadlift on straight legs

The straight-legged deadlift is an exercise to develop the back of the thigh and gluteus muscles. In bodybuilding, it is more popular with women. This is because there is practically no load on the quads during this deadlift. And most girls don’t want to develop them. But this does not mean at all that men do not fulfill it. The most famous bodybuilders in the world do the deadlift on straight legs in every workout. Just look at the development of the back of the thigh of athletes like Phil Heath, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Doriana Yates. They clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of this thrust. 

Therefore, the statement that this is a purely female exercise is erroneous. In our country, deadlift on straight legs is more often called “Deadlift”. There are many misconceptions about this exercise. Unknowingly deadlift and Romanian deadlift are considered the same exercise. Without even thinking that the technique of their implementation is very different. I already wrote about this in the article “ROMANIAN DEADLIFT”. I advise you to read it, for a better understanding of this issue. In this article, we will not waste time on this. 

What muscles does the deadlift use on straight legs? 

In the deadlift on straight legs, the muscles of the back of the thigh receive the main load. These include:

  • Biceps muscle (hamstring). This muscle is the main muscle in this exercise. Its development gives an expressive shape to the back of our legs. In a deadlift, its main function is hip extension. 
  • Semitendinosus muscle. Together with the previous muscle, it extends the thigh. 
  • Semi-transverse muscle. Located under the semitendinosus. Responsible for the thickness of the back of the thigh.

A secondary function in this exercise is performed by the gluteal, adductor, and lower leg muscles. Namely:

  • Big
  • Small
  • Average

They receive minimal stress. This is because in the deadlift, when bent over, our legs remain straight. This prevents the pelvic muscles from stretching properly and taking over dominance. But in the Romanian cravings, everything happens exactly the opposite. 

In order to learn more about leg muscles, I advise you to read the article “ANATOMY OF LEG MUSCLES “

  • Large leading
  • Calf and soleus muscles

Their elasticity is responsible for the tilt depth. Before starting this exercise, you should do exercises to stretch these areas for several weeks. 

Deadlift options and techniques

Deadlift on straight legs with a barbell

This option can be called classic. Men love him most of all since you can work with a lot of weight. It is best to take the barbell off the racks in the power rack. Place the bar at knee level. It must be understood that the weight when performing deadlift will be significantly less than in classic STAFF. The main advantage of rods is their availability. Since we only need a bar and, at best, a power frame with which we will take the bar. As for the range of motion, it will be individual for each athlete, it all depends on the elasticity of the muscles. 

The more often you practice this type of deadlift and do stretching exercises, the lower you will be able to lower the weights. We only grab the bar with a straight grip (palms look back). Using a grabber is prohibited! Since during the lowering of the projectile downward, unnecessary rotation in the spine will be created. Over time, it can lead to injury in the area. In terms of the degree of impact on the back of the thigh, the deadlift can be considered the number one exercise. The sameLUNGS exercise LEG BENDING will not give the same result. 

Starting position:

  • Install the struts in the power rack to the desired height (knee level) 
  • Put the bar there and hang the required number of discs (pancakes). 
  • Approach the barbell. Grab the bar with a medium grip (shoulder-width apart). 
  • Remove it from the stands and take a small step back. So that when lowering the bar does not cling to anything. 
  • Keep your back straight, shoulders down. The arms are completely straight. 
  • We put our feet on the width of the pelvis.
  • The gaze is directed forward. 


  • As we inhale, we begin to lean forward. That is, we move the pelvis back as much as possible, and the arms go down perpendicular to the floor. Do not bring them to your feet! 
  • We lower the barbell down until we can keep our back straight. For beginners, this is usually just below the knee. 
  • Further on exhalation due to muscle contraction of the back of the thigh, we return to the starting position. 

Throughout the entire execution, we do not bend our legs. This will shift the load from the back of the thigh to the glute. No wonder the exercise is called deadlift “on straight legs”. The movement must be controlled. If you experience lower back pain during exercise. It means you took too much weight or dropped the bar very low. 

Dumbbell Straight-Leg Deadlift

This is a lighter version of the previous version. Most of all, this option is suitable for girls, since the weight of the barbell can be heavy for many of them. Also, working with dumbbells, less load goes to the wrist. For men, holding large dumbbells over 40 kg in their hands will be quite problematic. And so the exercise is completely similar to the previous version. Stretch your dumbbells before increasing the weight. There is also the option of standing on one leg. It is more technically challenging and requires good stability from the athlete. But this technique will reduce the imbalance in the development of each of the thighs. It will also improve coordination. 

Smith Machine Stiff Leg Deadlift

This option almost completely imitates barbell training. The only movement occurs along the vector set by the simulator. This excludes stabilizers from the work of muscles to the maximum and allows you to fully focus on the work of the target muscle groups. In order that the bar below does not rest against the stops, you can stand on the step platform. More advanced athletes can do the deadlift while standing on one leg. 

Recommendations for implementation

  • Before embarking on a deadlift with a large weight, it is worthwhile to thoroughly study the execution technique. Then work out for a few weeks with light dumbbells or body bar. 
  • Watch your back position while bending over. No deflection is allowed in it! 
  • Do not bring the barbell to your feet (as is done, for example, in the Romanian or classical deadlift). This movement puts a strain on your lats and makes it harder to focus on the target muscles. 
  • Movements should be controlled. This way you can avoid inertia during the exercise. 
  • Our main task is to work within the amplitude and load only the muscles of the back of the thigh. If we fully straighten with the barbell, then all the load will go to the gluteal muscles.
  • When leaning forward, do not look under your feet. This will round the back. And it must be kept flat throughout the entire execution. 
  • When lowering down, bring the shoulder blades together. This will make our back stiff. 
  • For greater stability, the entire load should be on the heels. It is very easy to lose your balance if you slide it on your toes. 

All success in your training!


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