Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift: 4 Steps To Mastering The Move

 

Single-Leg RDLs Aren't Easy

The hip hinge is a fundamental movement, and mastering it means you get to try new ways to hinge.

The single-leg Romanian deadlift tends to be a staple in many strength training programs, but it's a tough move to get right. 

For one, it requires a considerable amount of balance, coordination, and proprioception. 

Add in trunk stability, spine rigidity, and hamstring flexibility, and, you've got your work cut out for you. 

But single-leg movements are a cornerstone for stability and injury prevention. Don't skip them! 

Before you throw in the towel and decide wobbling your way through another SLRDL isn't in the stars, try these 4 progressions.

I recommend working through each of these over a series of 3-6 weeks, depending on your level of fitness. 

Add one to your weekly workout plan, and then move to the next when you've nailed it down. 

Split Stance Romanian Deadlift

 

  1. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell that's a little heavier than what you would use for a SLRDL. Hold it at your side. 
  2. Stand staggered with one leg tracking behind and hips faced forward. Think railroad track stance, not trapeze wire stance.
  3. Hinge at the hips, sitting back toward the wall while breaking at the knees.
  4. The chest should move toward the floor and head tracks the movement. The weight will naturally move toward the floor as you sit back. 
  5. Load through the hamstrings, then press through the hips to return to starting position.
  6. Repeat for reps on each side (recommended 3 sets of 6-10 reps each side)

 

Sliding Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

  1. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell that's a little heavier than what you would use for a SLRDL. Hold at your side. 
  2. Place the back foot on a slider, glider, furniture mover, or towel. 
  3. Stand staggered with one leg tracking behind and hips faced forward. Think railroad track stance, not trapeze wire stance.
  4. Hinge at the hips, sitting back toward the wall while breaking at the knees. The weight will naturally move toward the floor as you sit your hips back. 
  5. Allow the back leg to slide on the floor.
  6. The chest should move toward the floor and head tracks the movement. 
  7. Load through the hamstrings, then press through the hips to return to starting position.
  8. Repeat for reps on each side (recommended 3 sets of 6-10 reps each side)

Braced Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

  1. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell that's a little heavier than what you would use for a SLRDL. Hold an apparatus with the other hand. 
  2. Stand staggered with one leg tracking behind and hips faced forward. Think railroad track stance, not trapeze wire stance.
  3. Hinge at the hips, sitting back toward the wall while breaking at the knee, allowing the back leg to track with the body as you hinge. 
  4. The key with the brace is to not fully rely on the apparatus for support. Use it sparingly to help control balance. 
  5. The chest should move toward the floor and head tracks the movement. 
  6. Load through the hamstrings, then press through the hips to return to starting position.
  7. Repeat for reps on each side (recommended 3 sets of 6-10 reps each side)

 

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

  1. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell that's a little heavier than what you would use for a SLRDL. 
  2. Stand staggered with one leg tracking behind and hips faced forward. Think railroad track stance, not trapeze wire stance.
  3. Hinge at the hips, sitting back toward the wall while breaking at the knee, allowing the back leg to track with the body as you hinge. 
  4. The chest should move toward the floor and head tracks the movement. 
  5. Load through the hamstrings, then press through the hips to return to starting position.
  6. Repeat for reps on each side (recommended 3 sets of 6-10 reps each side)

 

Polishing It Up

Once you work through all four progressions, you can try various different loads.

Loading the non-working side (contralateral load) helps build the glute medius, allows you to focus more on form, and helps maintain trunk stability. 

Conversely, loading the working side (ipsilateral) forces one side to work more intensely to avoid rotation or loss of balance. 

You cal also load bilaterally with a barbell or by holding a single kettlebell with both hands. 

Bands are another great tool for the SLRDL, as are medicine balls. Get creative and find new ways to challenge your body using the same movement. 

 

 

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