Personal & Athletic Training in St. John's, Newfoundland

How to: The Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

By jonerikkawamoto | In Exercise How To | On March 21st, 2012

JKConditioning, personal training
This exercise is great at challenging single leg hip stability while strengthening your posterior chain (hamstrings, gluteals and para-spinals) and abdominals (indirectly). Don’t be confused with the version where the weight is lifted off the floor between reps – that’s referred to as a Stiffleg Deadlift – two different exercises even though they look the same.  I’ll save that exercise for another post.

Dumbbells can be held in each hand or in just one hand (same side as the leg that is going up – more challenge to the abdominals).  A barbell can also be held so more weight can be an option (as dumbbells only go so heavy).

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Lift one leg slightly off the ground so that you’re now standing on one leg.
  • Puff out your chest and bring your shoulders back.  Slightly bend your stance leg.
  • Pretend you are in front of an audience and that you’re about to bow.  This is called the “hip hinge” and is pivotal in performing this exercise correctly.
  • As you slowly start to lean forward, simultaneously lift your opposite leg.  Pretend it’s connected with your shoulder so that if you bow “so much”, your leg will lift “so much.”
  • DON’T squat with your stance leg – keep that leg slightly bent throughout the exercise.
  • Keep lifting that leg and keep bowing.
  • Think of reaching for the wall behind you with your lifting leg’s heel.
  • Stay flat in your hips and shoulders – keep square with the ground.
  • At the end position (as in the picture above) you should have a flat torso position and should feel tremendous tension in your stance leg’s hamstring.  If you don’t, something is probably wrong.  Don’t round your back by “loosening” the muscles along your spine.  Stay straight!
  • Keep that neutral spine and your shoulders back.  Your chest should still be puffed out, even in this bottom position.  From the side, your body should form a capitol “T.”
  • Bring your mid-air leg down as you stand up.
  • That’s one rep.

I like doing sets of 5-8 with my runners depending on the time of year; also, depending on the week, I’ll typically get them to perform 2-5 sets in a given workout.

That’s a wrap.

Thanks for reading and run strong,

-Jon

2 Responses to “How to: The Single Leg Romanian Deadlift”

  1. Sonnenschein Says:

    I have been struggeling with this exercise for a long time! My problem is that I am quite tall and have long limbs which makes it challenging to target the glutes, I have to “lean over” a lot and it is tough not to round my upper back. Many taller people can relate to this problem as we need to increase our range of motion in order to target the posterior chain. The same applies to the stiff legged deadlift (on both legs), I have to cheat and bend my legs more than I should with this exercise, otherwise, I wouldn´t be able to target my glutes/hamstrings but only my lower back…Do you have any suggestions?

  2. Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc. Kin. (c), CSCS, CEP, FMS-1 Says:

    Hi Sonnenschein,

    That’s a common problem. I wrote two other blog posts on the posterior chain:

    1) http://www.strongerrunner.blogspot.ca/2012/01/posterior-chain-part-i.html

    2) http://www.strongerrunner.blogspot.ca/2012/01/posterior-chain-part-ii.html

    Check them out and let me know if they help. Cheers.

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