Muscles Targeted: The main focus of the dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts are the muscles of the lower back including the quadratus lumborum that causes the lateral movement of the trunk and the lumbar spine. 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 hamstrings (back of the upper leg), latissimus dorsi (upper back), as well as the arms and forearms that are responsible for keeping the proper grip that lasts throughout the entire repetition and the remainder of a set.
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.
Why This Exercise is Important: The dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts improves the strength, stability and flexibility of all the muscle groups that are involved in the entire movement. It is important for the increased development of the quadratus lumborum that aids in the side to side movements of the lower back including the spine. Importance is also seen for the improvements in the range of movement within the hip joint with the help of the gluteus medius muscles. Flexibility is also provided for the hamstring muscles when the dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts are executed. It also gives importance to the increased stability of the arms and lats that provides assistance throughout the entire movement.
Things To Avoid: The first point that needs to be addressed when performing the stiff leg deadlifts is the position of the legs. Often the legs are meant to be within shoulder width distance with the toes pointing forward or slightly to the side, and moreover the knees have to be kept as straight as the joint can take. The extension of the knees is the key factor that characterizes the dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts from other dumbbell exercises for the lower back, hence you should avoid overly bending the knees. Keeping the entire back flat for the whole duration of the dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts is a must. So avoid an arched back by pushing the hips out toward the back and keeping your line of vision forward so the chest, shoulders and chin are in a neutral position.
Reps and Sets: The dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts can be used to help improve muscular endurance by training within 15-20 repetitions for about 2-3 sets. It also helps to improve muscular strength when performed for 10-12 repetitions of 3-5 sets. Additionally it can also help improve and increase muscular power with 5-8 repetitions of 4-5 sets per workout.
Other Exercises To Use: In order to make a full and well structured lower back exercise program you can include the dumbbell stiff leg deadlift with Romanian Deadlifts using a barbell along with exercises like Supermans and Hyperextensions. All of these exercises target the quadratus lumborum, gluteus medius and hamstrings increasing the range of movement of the hip joint and the stability of the entire torso including the spine. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the back.