Why You Should Try Single Leg Deadlifts

If you’ve been struggling with our deadlift challenge because you don’t have easy access to a gym with barbells and heavy weights, this one’s especially for you. All of us can benefit, though. It’s time to try single-leg deadlifts.

October Is For Deadlifts

Welcome back, friends! We’ve done a lot of bodyweight exercises in our fitness challenges, and last month we got out on the road for some running or walking. This month we head into the gym for some heavy lifting — but don’t worry, even if you don’t have a gym membership we’ll have options for you too.

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Balancing on one leg makes this exercise a lot harder in two ways. First, you need to use a lot more of those little stabilising muscles just to keep yourself upright. Second, you have one leg doing double the work, so even a light weight can be very challenging.

I like this video from Breaking Muscle to demonstrate some different options. First, they have you start from a standing position, and lower the weight, rather than starting with the weight on the floor. It’s easier to find a natural motion that way. They also use two kettlebells, on either side of your standing leg, so at least your upper body can stay balanced.

Depending on what you’d like to work on, you can put your toe on the ground near your standing foot, put your toe on the ground significantly behind that foot, or drive your free leg back behind you so it doesn’t touch the ground at all.

It’s tempting to keep your standing leg totally straight, but few of us have the strength and flexibility (it takes both!) to be stable in that position. Allow some bend in your knee, and try to still think of the motion as a deadlift rather than a straight-legged ice skating arabesque.


So how have your deadlifts been going? What are your wins and what are your challenges so far this month? I was travelling for most of the past week, so I couldn’t do deadlifts, but I grabbed the heaviest dumbbells in the hotel gym and did dumbbell rows with my back parallel to the floor, which is a great hamstring move (that’s where I feel it, anyway). How about you?


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