Stiff-Legged Deadlift (SLDL)
AKA Romanian deadlift
The stiff-legged deadlift is a very effective back strength exercise often confused with or considered a synonym for the Romanian deadlift.
With your feet in the pulling position and holding the bar in a clean grip, set your back tightly in a complete arch. Hinge at the hips as far as you can without losing any arch in your back, unlocking the knees as you hinge, allowing them to remain slightly bent until you return to standing vertically, straightening them as you straighten the hips. Keep the bar as close to the legs as possible without scraping throughout the motion.
The stiff-legged deadlift and Romanian deadlift are often considered the same exercise, but we distinguish between the two. In the stiff-legged deadlift, the knees start fully extended and unlock slightly as part of the forward hinge rather than remaining bent throughout the entire movement as they do in the Romanian deadlift.
The stiff-legged deadlift strengthens the back arch along with the glutes and hamstrings. It also strengthens the lats and shoulders because of the effort to keep the bar close to the legs with the shoulders in front of the bar.
Sets of 3-6 reps are most common. Weights usually start around 50% of the lifter’s best back squat and often be very heavy, sometimes as much as 70-80% of the back squat.
The stiff-legged deadlift can be done with a snatch grip and with more bend in the knees to be able to handle more weight for increased back arch strengthening. It can also be done without lifting straps for more grip strength work, or standing on a box, plates or similar to allow greater range of motion for extremely flexible athletes.