The single-leg deadlift is a simple and effective exercise that strengthens your lower body and core muscles. This variation of the traditional deadlift involves one leg lifting off the ground and extending behind you for a challenging twist.
The complexity works even more core muscles and smaller muscles in your legs to help improve your balance and overall strength.
Keep reading to learn how to do a single-leg deadlift, avoid mistakes, and modify this exercise for your next lower body workout!
How to perform a Single-Leg Deadlift:
- Start by standing with both feet directly under your hips. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in your hands down in front of you.
- Shift your weight onto one leg and begin leaning forward into your hips. Your supporting leg should be straight and engaged with a slight bend in the knee while your other leg starts to extend straight behind you.
- Keep the arm holding the weight straight, at shoulder height, and perpendicular to the floor at all times.
- Press down into your supporting leg as you lift your non-supporting leg back, allowing your upper body to move forward with your hips as a hinge until your torso is almost parallel to the floor, making a "T" position.
- Return to standing by focusing on using your hamstrings and glute muscles to pull the weight back up.
- Complete the movement with your torso upright and both legs back underneath you.
- Take a slight pause to make sure you have full control of your balance and start your next rep!
Things to Avoid
Rounding or arching your back
During a single-leg deadlift, your back should be straight. Rounding or arching your back can result in back pain because it takes the weight load from your glutes to your back muscles.
Bending your lifted leg
To avoid rounding your back, keep your back leg straight and in line with your spine. If your find yourself bending your leg to help keep your balance, you can use a step to gently rest your foot on top for practice.
An alternative way to perform a single-leg deadlift is using two kettlebells instead of one. This increases the total amount you are lifting, so make sure you have good form and are confident in your single-leg deadlift before progressing to this variation!
Another way you can increase the difficulty of the single-leg deadlift is to close your eyes during the exercise. The lack of visual input will challenge you to make your muscles work harder to keep yourself balanced.
Need a modification?
Practice this move without any weights to perfect your form. Practice lowering your torso until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings and bending your supporting knee if you don't have the flexibility to lean that far forward yet.
Learn more form tips like this during a complimentary session with a personal trainer.