Straight-leg dead lifts

Photo: Inspire Training Systems

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You Think You Need Straight-Leg Dead Lifts...
But You Can Leave Them to the Pros

You've probably seen this exercise touted in fitness magazines as a way to sculpt your glutes. The problem is that "there's a lot of potential for mistakes," says Bracko. Bending forward with straight legs puts immense pressure on the invertebral discs. And while you're supposed to use your hamstrings to pull you up, many people lift with their back, which can lead to a herniated disc.

Better: Bird dogs. "This exercise is great for your butt and hamstring, with the added bonus of working the muscles around the spine," says Bracko.

How to Do Them
  • Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  • Extend your right arm straight out in front of you and your left leg out behind you.
  • Raise your arm to shoulder height. At the same time, straighten your left leg and raise it to hip height.
  • Hold for one count and release.
  • Do 10 reps. Then switch to the left arm and right leg.
  • Repeat three times.
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.