The single leg deadlift is a great exercise to give your glutes and hamstrings a real workout.
Compared to a traditional double leg deadlift, you need to use far less weight to get a similar training effect. Single leg deadlifts provide far more of a challenge in terms of stability, so will help you improve hip and ankle stability quickly, as well as strengthening your core region.
Performing this one leg deadlift variation with added resistance, like a medicine ball or dumbbells will further challenge you in terms of strength, throughout this functional movement.
Single Leg Exercises – Why?
Single leg exercises are of huge benefit not just to us runners, but athletes of all types. Take something as fundamental as your running stride, you’re only ever supported on one leg or the other as you run… whether you’re running a marathon, or chasing after a ball in the outfield.
Traditionally when we talk about deadlifts, we think about loading a barbell up and performing a typical double leg deadlift. Fantastic for building leg strength in general – and being a hip dominant exercise, your glutes and hamstrings will really benefit.
The great thing about the single leg variation of a deadlift is that you don’t need anywhere near as much load to get the desired training effect, as you’re only working one leg at a time. This will place a lot less strain on your low back. You’ll also be challenged a great deal more in terms of stability – at the ankle, knee and hip in particular. This makes the single leg deadlift huge bang for the buck exercise for athletes of all varieties.
How to Perform the Single Leg Deadlift?
Begin standing tall. Engage your core by drawing your belly button inwards, and gently clench your butt muscles, your glutes.
Throughout the exercise maintain a soft bend in the standing knee.
Keeping your back straight, shoulders back and chest open, slowly push your hanging leg back to near horizontal as you reach your hands to your toes, with straight arms. Make sure the hinge comes from your hips, rather than rounding forwards, flexing through your spine.
You should feel tension in your hamstrings as you reach the lowest position. Only go as low as hamstring flexibility will allow you – don’t compensate by compromising torso position.
From the lowest point, consciously squeeze your butt to engage your glutes in working alongside your hamstrings to bring you back to the upright start position.
Aim to repeat this for three sets of 10-15 on each leg. If you need to break it down to smaller sets to work on stability, then build-up the reps, that’s fine.
To start with, practice these single leg deadlifts with no resistance, just to get used to the movement and nail the stability challenge. From there you can add resistance using dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbel, or in this case a medicine ball in both hands.
One word of cation when loading the movement – be sure to keep the shoulder back and chest open, rather than finding yourself rolling your shoulders forward while holding the weight, which will encourage to lose the correct posture of your spine from top-down.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about these single leg deadlifts, or anything else you’d like me to cover on my YouTube channel.Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.