Accelerate Physical Therapy

Performing a Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

If you have been asked to do single leg Romanian deadlifts (SLRD), but are not sure how they would benefit you or even how to do them properly, this article will give you the basics to make sure you can perform them safely and effectively.

The SLRD is one exercise that works both as an exercise for the hamstrings, as well as improving balance. The reason for this is because it’s performed on one leg at a time. Strengthening the hamstring can be necessary or simply desired for various reasons including overall improvement in lower body strength or rehabilitation.

However, working at improving your balance is in your best interest, because as we get older, our balance diminishes. The concern is when that happens a lack of balance increases the chance of injuries. So anytime you can increase your balance, you decrease the risk for future injury.

Muscles Involved

The SLRD, if done properly, will help to strengthen the posterior muscles in your legs, such as the glutes, adductors, and hamstrings. It will also work in sync to extend the hip, all while strengthening the lower back muscles as they act to help stabilize you through the motions.

This exercise, as the name indicates, is done lifting one leg at a time. Also, the weight you lift reduces by at least 50%, in comparison to the standard Romanian deadlift…and will put less stress on your back.

With the necessary proprioception and balance required for this exercise, it causes the external rotators and hip abductors to work along with quadriceps located on the front thigh. In turn, it acts as a stabilizer for the pelvis and knee of the grounded leg.

A physical therapist might suggest this exercise for any athlete or patient in rehabilitation who has weak glutes, eliminating the need for the hamstring to overwork itself.

So, now that we know what a SLRD can do for you, let’s take a look how to do them properly…

Performing the Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

You will first want to determine which leg you are going to start on, and then grab a dumbbell in the opposite hand. And, then do the following:

• Make sure to keep your back straight and not curved or rounded
• Tighten the abdomen muscles
• Keep your head looking forward
• Pull in the shoulder blades

The above is your starting position. It is best that you have this accurately set before you start the movement process. So, if possible, get into the position in front of a mirror to see if your body is properly aligned.

The movement portion is equally important in order to have the most effect, as well as reduce the risk of injury. Once you have the proper starting position, do the following for the remainder of the exercise:

• Bend forward and slowly at the hip, while keeping the back straight
• Lower your arm with the weight
• Push your hips backward, while slightly bending the knee of the supportive leg
• Slowly swing your other leg backward, keeping it aligned with your torso
• Lower your upper body until you feel your hamstrings gently stretched
• Return to your starting position

Repeat these steps for however many repetitions your physical therapist or trainer recommends. Then switch to the opposite leg and do it all over again. If you feel you are overdoing it, stop for now and try again later.

A key point to remember while doing the SLRD is to remain focused on pushing your hips backward, and to keep your spine naturally aligned during the entire process.

Possible Variations to the Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

One variation to the SLRD is to add a rowing motion with the arm. Combing the deadlift with a rowing motion (one arm only), it makes it a compound exercise, emphasizing a cross-body connection.

Another option is to do this with a staggered stance, requiring less balance than the SLRD instructions mentioned earlier. This is recommended if you need to gradually get accustomed to the one leg deadlift. It’s just as it sounds…rather than doing multiple repetitions on one leg, alternate the legs to reduce the stress of balancing.

Regardless of which variation you choose to do, make sure you don’t overdo it. Doing too much at a time will increase the risk of injury…which will only set you back more than you were when you began.