Stiff-Legged Dumbbell Deadlifts – Hamstrings Exercise Guide


Muscles Targeted: The main target of dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts are the muscles of the hamstrings (back of the legs). The gluteus medius is also directly involved when the dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts are performed through keeping the hips stable and moving in the full range of movement. Other muscles groups that contribute to the correct and controlled movement of the dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts are the lower back including the quadratus lumborum that causes the lateral movement of the trunk and the lumbar spine. The latissimus dorsi (upper back) is also a secondary muscle group involved with the movement as well as the arms and forearms that are responsible for keeping the proper grip throughout the entire range of motion for this exercise.


Exercise Instructions: Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging straight down in front of your body. Begin this movement by bending at the waist and lower the dumbbells as far down to the floor as you can comfortably go. Be sure to keep your legs as straight as possible (no bend in your knees) and really let the weight of the dumbbells bring your body slowly down. On the way up, really focus on your lower back, butt and hamstrings to pull the weight back up. It is very important to keep your back straight and rigid throughout this exercise and to let your back and leg muscles do the work.

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    Anwar Qureshi on

    Thanks for this demo ShapeFit! This is a wonderful website for guidance. However, the timing of how to breath-in (inhale) or breath-out (exhale) is missing. Can you also tell me the breathing pattern while doing deltoid front raises using a barbell? Thanks in advance!

    • shapefit

      Hi Anwar – You will want to breathe out (exhale) when exerting the most force and then breathe in (inhale) on the eccentric portion of the movement for each exercise. For the stiff-legged dumbbell deadlifts, you will want to breathe in slightly when you lower the dumbbells down to the ground and breathe out (exhale) as you exert force on the ascent back up to the top. For front deltoid raises, breathe out when you bring the barbell up to the top and breathe in as you lower the barbell back down to the starting position. Breathing patterns are an interesting topic. Some people even recommend holding your breath for a short amount of time during certain exercises like the deadlift to lift the most amount of weight possible (similar to the Valsalva Maneuver). Do some research on this for more information and decide which way works best for you.

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