Muscles Targeted: The barbell stiff leg deadlift is an amazing compound exercise that works several muscles at once. Although the primary target muscles of this exercise are the hamstrings and the erector spinae (lower back), many other muscles are recruited as synergists (glutes) or stabilizers (latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids and quads). What this means is that, when performed with correct form, the deadlift effectively works a large portion of your lower body and almost your entire back!
Exercise Advice: It is advisable to use fairly light weights when learning this exercise as it is very important to maintain proper form at all times to avoid serious injuries. Select a weight that you can comfortably lift and easily move around, even if this means you are using just an Olympic bar (these usually weigh around 45 pounds) and no additional weight plates.
Start by placing the barbell with any additional weight on the ground. Next, place your feet under the bar and stand with a shoulder width stance. Grab the bar with your palms facing downwards (overhand grip) and bend at the knees slightly while maintaining a straight lower back. Now slowly lift the bar to a standing position. Lower the bar down slowly to the top of your feet by bending at the hips. Make sure that your waist is kept straight throughout the movement, flexing slightly at the bottom. Repeat the above movement until the desired number of repetitions are reached.
Things To Avoid: It is very important to keep in mind that this exercise is not for people who have issues with their lower backs. Further, special attention must be given to prevent the rounding of your lower back and it must be kept straight throughout the movement. Sudden, jerking motions or using too much weight can also lead to severe injuries. So leave your ego at the door and start with light weights, progressively adding more resistance as you adapt.
Reps and Sets: The number of repetitions performed will vary based on your goal. To focus mainly on building strength, the recommended number of reps vary from 4 to 6 while those that are focusing more on muscle building and endurance may perform higher repetitions (10-12 and 15+ respectively). However, beginners should do 10-12 repetitions with lighter weight so that they can build a proper foundation of exercise technique and form while building some muscle at the same time.
The number of sets is up to you but, again, it is better to start off with just one work set that is performed after two warm-up sets (weight used in warm-up sets will be half the weight in the final work set) and slowly add a set after you have become more accustomed to the exercise.
Other Exercises To Use: The deadlift is a great compound mass building exercise that works several muscle groups and should definitely be incorporated into your workout routine. Other important exercises that you should be performing are barbell rows (for your middle to upper back) and barbell squats (for your lower body). Wide grip pull ups work the lats really well and can be included into your routine as well.