Both the standard deadlift and Romanian deadlift are superb lower-body exercises that build strength in your hamstrings and glutes in particular. If you’re someone who struggles to maintain an even temper when things get frustrating, we’d recommend sticking with those two moves most of the time and only attempting the single-leg Romanian deadlift when you’re in a really good mood.
That’s because it’s one of the trickiest exercises out there, where your balance and co-ordination are tested as much as your strength is, and it’s all too easy to lose your balance and ruin your rep.
However, it’s worth persevering because the single-leg Romanian deadlift is a terrific functional exercise that’s especially useful for any sportspeople using their time in the gym to get an edge in their preferred sport. Training one leg at a time mimics the movements of running and the exercise also improves stability in your ankles, knees and hips, which will make you more resistant to injury.
Furthermore, your core will be working overtime during the exercise to help you stay upright and in the right position, so it’s not just your hamstrings and glutes that will get stronger.
All that’s worth risking a little frustration, right?
How To Do The Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
We’re going to describe how to do the exercise with a barbell, but it can also be done with a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand or just one, or without any weight at all. It’s certainly worth trying the bodyweight version at first to get used to the movement and improve your balance. Of course, whichever type of free weight you end up using, you’ll want to use far less weight than you would lift in the standard deadlift or Romanian deadlift when you have both legs planted on the ground.
Hold the bar by your thighs in an overhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart. Lift one leg off the ground, moving your foot behind you, and lean forwards slightly. Keeping your back straight, hinge at the hips to lean further forwards, raising your back leg behind you to help maintain your balance. Lower until you feel the stretch in your standing leg’s hamstring, then return to the starting position.