Zach Homol – @ZachHomolPower
Stiff Leg Deadlifts have always been a constant in my training over the years and for strong reasoning. Stiff leg deadlifts are one of the best accessory movements to increase strength, as well as size, on the lower back as well as the hamstrings, if the movement is done correctly. Which leads me right into why I am writing this article. Of recent, I have been in discussion with novice lifters who state they don’t do stiff leg deadlifts due to the face they are nervous to get injured. Just about each lifter had the same idea about stiff leg deadlifts, “It hurts my lower back. It hurts my knees. I’m nervous to get injured.” Once hearing this, I instantly had to go into “coach mode” haha-. Explaining to the lifters that Stiff Leg Deadlifts have always been a staple in my training and that it should too be a staple in theirs. I then proceed to explain WHY their lower backs where hurting as well as their knees. See the examples given below on the incorrect and correct way to do STIFF LEG DEADLIFTS! When this movement is done correctly it can be a very vital tool to packing on size as well as strength!
In order to complete the deadlift effiently as well as safely we must know how to set up correctly.
Hang from a Pull up bar for 10 seconds, let go. Where you land is THE MOST optimal position to conventional deadlift from. Slightly point your toes OUT (external rotation/ glute activation). Hands and arms directly to your side. Now we are set up correctly.
Here is where the knee pain is coming. Notice the picture on the left. My knees are locked out, pulling the pressure into the knees. Now look at the picture on the right. By slightly breaking my knees this will relieve pressure from the knees. This will also put MORE load from the bar into your hamstrings. More weight on the hamstrings = Bigger Stronger hamstrings. (something we all need a little more of!)
Bracing/ Core Tight:
What I have come to realize is the majority of lifters, speaking of the “general health seekers,” have absolutely no idea how to create tightness in their core. Now, speaking for about 80% of all athletes/ lifters who I’ve worked with had no understating on how to properly BRACE when training. Bracing in itself could be an entire article. But let me give you the short version. The top right picture I have all of my air loaded in my belly. My abs are tight, but I’m not bracing. There’s a difference, a big difference. Now look at the picture on the left: This is BRACING! So how do you brace? Fill you belly with air, preferably through your nose. Now I want to act as if someone is punching you in the belly as hard as they can. What did you just do? Well, if you are preparing to get punched in the stomach, you squeeze and “sit down” on your core. Creating tightness throughout the entirety of you core. From here you are now BRACING! Throughout the set you should NEVER break your brace.
Getting Loose/ Bracing:
Here’s why these guys were having lower back pain. The picture on the left shows what happens when you GET LOOSE/ Break your brace. When you break brace (or let your air out) you core fails and your lower back rounds. So that means there can be more than 1 reason why your lower back hurts when deadlifting or doing stiff leg deadlifts. The first being: A. Not knowing how to brace/ stay core tight. B. Your core is not strong enough to handle the weight on the bar. C. You let your air out, therefore have nothing to brace with! The picture on the right shows the correct position to be in for bracing correctly.
Hinging/ Eccentric Portion
Hinging correctly will make or break you on the amount of weight that you will be able to use during this movement. I’m a firm believer in all movements should be done AS HEAVY AS POSSIBLE, while executing PROPER FORM and TECHNIQUE!
The picture on the left shows me hinging with my upper body. My hips are nearly in line with my knees and my shoulders are over top of the bar. With this upper body hinge, it very likely you will become off balance, lock out your knees (putting pressure in the knees), as well as leave your lower back in a vulnerable position. While there are specific times in my training that I do hinge upper body, it’s specific to myself in my training and done with caution. I would not recommend this to a novice or intermediate lifter.
The picture on the right shows a lower body hinge. To make it as simple as it can be, once you get the first rep up, start the descent by HINGING your HIPS BACK while keeping your chest UPRIGHT! If your chest goes DOWN, you are using the upper body hinge or breaking brace; no good!
For more articles like this, click here!