Target your hamstrings and glutes with one strong move, the dumbbell straight-leg deadlift. It’s common to see gym goers performing deadlifts with an Olympic bar, so what benefits does using a pair of dumbbells bring to the table?
When you use a barbell your wrists and forearms must stay dedicated to one position. Using dumbbells gives each arm the ability to move independently which makes for a more natural movement, and it lends itself to a more comfortable overhand grip.
You will have more flexibility in the amount of weight that you use, and you also have less setup time. It’s always a good idea to start with a lower load when performing straight-leg deadlifts until you master the technique. Then you can gradually increase the weight.
How To Do The Straight-Leg Deadlift:
- Select a pair of dumbbells and hold them by your sides with your arms fully extended.
- Stand with your trunk straight to ensure a neutral spine and your feet positioned in an athletic stance or at shoulder width. Your knees should have a slight bend in them.
- Keeping your knees in the bent position and stationary. Push your weight into your heels and lower the dumbbells to over the top of your feet by hinging at the hips. Keep your back straight.
- Lower toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Exhale as you are moving downward.
- Begin raising your torso straight up by extending your hips and waist until you are back in the starting position. Inhale as you are moving up.
If you have lower back problems, you should avoid this exercise since it can aggravate your lower back. Even if you are injury free, you must still pay special attention to the positioning of your back. You don’t want rounding as you lower the weight. This is called a still leg deadlift, but in actuality your knees are bent and your back is what should remain straight as a board.
Avoid using any type of momentum or jerking motions. This should be executed slowly and in a controlled manner to avoid back injury. Begin with very light weight and add additional weight gradually to allow your lower back adequate adaptation and time to build strength progressively.
Sample Exercise Plan:
- Dumbbell straight-leg deadlift 3 sets of 10-12
- Barbell squat 3 sets of 10-12
- Stationary alternating dumbbell lunge 3 sets of 20 (10 per leg in each set)
- Dumbbell sumo squat 3 sets of 12
- Leg press machine 3 sets of 10
- Calf raise (holding dumbbells in each hand) 3 sets of 12