Build stability, strength and flexibility with single leg deadlifts

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: single leg deadlifts.

Deadlifts are already probably part of your workout routine, so why not challenge yourself with a single leg version? After all, variation is key to adaptation – your body needs new, challenging stimulus to keep getting stronger and growing muscle. 

 What is a single leg deadlift? 

The single-leg deadlift is the same hip-hinging movement you know and love from the traditional deadlift, only with an added challenge on your balance and core.Everyone should spend time working on unilateral movements like a single leg deadlift. 

The move is great because:

  • It works one side at a time: This means you can even out any imbalances as one leg won’t ‘take over’ the movement. 
  • It builds strength: Load up your single leg deadlift with dumbbells to really strengthen the hamstring.
  • It improve flexibility: The aim of the game is to lower as far to the floor as you can while maintaining good form – you’ll definitely feel a stretch through the back of your legs. 
  • It improves stability: You have to brace your core and focus on not twisting from side to side as one leg comes off the floor. 

What MUSCLES DO single leg deadlifts work?

A single leg deadlift will work into the posterior chain – that’s the muscles at the back of the body – as well as the core: 

  • Hamstrings 
  • Glutes 
  • Abdominals 
  • Obliques 

HOW TO DO A single leg deadlift

  1.  Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart with a small bend in the knee. Lift up through the neck, keep a neutral spine and brace your core. 
  2. Place your hands behind your head, on your hips or take a dumbbell in one or both hands, depending on how advance you are. 
  3. Lift one leg off the floor. You can either lightly place your toes on the ground in line with your heel or allow it to hover behind you
  4. Start to hinge by pushing your hips behind you and letting your chest and stomach lean forwards. If you are lifting your leg, keep it strong and steady with the glute squeezed. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your hips – don’t arch through your spine or roll through your shoulders. 
  5. Lower until you feel resistance in your standing hamstring, then pause at the bottom of the move for a second. 
  6.  Push through your standing heel to come back to the starting position. 

Keen to improve your form? Check out our How To library to see exactly how the experts do over 100 of the most common strength training exercises.

Image: Stylist

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