Straight Leg Deadlift
First, I must apologize for the poor video quality. It was taken on an iPhone, and the lighting isn’t the best. I promise I’ll do better next time. Now, on to the exercise itself.
The Straight Leg Deadlift is a great exercise for strengthening the hamstrings and low back – an area that often gets ignored. While it a simple exercise, technique is VERY important on this movement, not only to work the proper muscle groups, but to prevent injury, as well. When done properly, it has great benefits. In this video, I am using dumbbells. You can substitute a barbell, kettlebells, or anything that is the proper weight, for that matter.
You cannot see from this angle, but my feet are set up just inside shoulder width. I personally like a little more narrow stance on this than I do normal deadlifts. Start with a SLIGHT bend in your knees and arms locked out at the bottom. I realize the name of the movement is “straight leg,” but I never completely lock out my legs. To me, it is too easy to injure yourself if your legs are completely locked out, especially if you’re not experienced in the movement. Now, a few tips here… As you can see here, my first movement is to push my hips backward. Hey, just pretend you’re Miley Cyrus for a minute. Push your hips and butt back, almost as if you’re trying to bump into something behind you. While doing this, rotate AROUND YOUR HIPS, lowering the weight below your knees. Make sure the rotation is at the hips here, as opposed to the knees. Keep your back flat, and your chin up, looking a few feet in front as opposed to straight down. Once you have lowered the weight below the knee, use your hamstrings, glutes, and back to pull the weight back up. Make sure this movement is done SLOWLY and UNDER CONTROL. The faster you do this exercise, the more likely you are to get injured.
If you’ve mastered the standard version, or just looking work on a little balance, try this version. You might want to start without any weight to get the movement down first. Focus on the same things here: slight bend in the knee, rotation around the hips, back nice and flat, eyes up. Try to get the back leg up to parallel with the floor.
Note: If you cannot keep your back straight during this movement, you’re not ready for it. If you feel your back constantly bending over in order to complete the exercise, go back to both feet on the ground. This is an advanced version, and one that technique is even more important. Be smart, and work up to it if you need to.