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Traditional Deadlifts vs. Stiff-Legged Deadlift


Traditional Deadlifts vs. Stiff-Legged Deadlift
Posted on: 2013-11-18 20:15:23 Ft.

Does one exercise work your hamstrings harder than the other? Nope. Here’s why.


Researchers took 14 men and attached electrodes to their biceps femoris (one of the hamstring muscles), vastus lateralis (one of the muscles in the quad), medial gastrocnemius (one of the calf muscles) and lumbar multifidus (lower back) to measure muscle activation during each exercise. The men then performed deadlifts and stiff-legged deadlifts using 70% of their one-rep max for each exercise.

The results showed no significant difference in muscle activation in the biceps femoris during either exercise. Nor was there any difference in the lumbar multifidus or medial gastrocnemius. There was, however, a significant difference in the vastus lateralis with the traditional deadlift causing greater activation.1

Therefore, if you’re looking to build your hamstrings then you can’t go wrong with either exercise. Although, if you’re looking to beef up your quads (specifically the vastus lateralis) then you might want to stick with traditional deadlifts. Conversely, if you’re looking to give your quads a break(either due to an injury or to simply reduce their overall workload) you may want to incorporate stiff-legged deadlifts into your hamstring training.

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1. Bezerra ES et al. (2013) Electromyographic Activity of Lower Body Muscles during the Deadlift and Stiff-Legged Deadlifts.June. Vol 16.3