The Dead-Stop Single Leg RDL

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Bodyweight single leg RDL

I’ve got another tweak on a common exercise for you to try out today, and incidentally it’s also a hamstring dominant exercise which makes it a fitting follow up to last week’s post.
I’ll probably be putting up these type of exercise demonstration blogs more regularly in future, as this is really my wheelhouse. I’m not an online trainer. I’m not someone who just reads research (though I do that too) or just reads text books (which I also do) or just reads other fitness professional’s blogs and social media posts (those too) and then copies some exercise ideas and sends them to someone online whom I’ll never meet face to face or, worse, just writes about it without ever testing it on anyone else at all. I train people in real life. I’m not knocking those who choose to train people online, it’s a more accessible medium for many and I know some truly great online only coaches. But it’s not what I do. And particularly if somebody wants to put out content about actual training methods, I really believe that they should be testing their techniques on people face to face where they can get instant feedback and coach people in a hands-on manner.

So I guess this is all to say that when I share information on training you can be sure that it’s been tested, not just for its ability to produce results, but for its practicality in real world settings. Training hundreds of people in person for literally thousands of hours can give you an insight or two on what actually works.

On to today’s exercise.

Almost by accident, I’ve been branded as a “single leg training guy”. Not in a way that suggests I’ve got anything against bilateral training – I like squatting for those who are orthopedically healthy, and I love deadlifting heavy, both myself and with my clients – but apparently I’ve developed a knack for breaking down the far more variable realm of single leg training and using it a little more intelligently within a training program, as I’ve written about a little bit before, for example here and here.

So today’s video is to show you a modification of the basic single leg Romanian deadlift, or SLRDL, for you to try out, and then try with your clients if it’s appropriate for their goals.

What I didn’t mention in that video is how I like to program them. Personally, I find their value lies in a brief phase targeting single leg stability. After learning the basic SLRDL pattern with just bodyweight, I like to then load it contralaterally with a KB or DB for a short phase to build some basic strength and movement familiarity. After this is when I’ll usually switch to the dead stop version, finding a challenging weight for my client and working on it for maybe two weeks with increasing load, and then do the same thing for the next two weeks with the alternating arm version.
By this point, balance and stability in single leg stance should be pretty solid, so that’s enough time spent mucking around with balance acts. It’s now time to go load them up heavy and get them strong!

*A final quick note, I was first shown this variation over a year ago and only just thought to film it and put it into a blog. While doing so I figured that I should probably check to see if anyone else had already done it. I found a variation from both Ben Bruno and Greg Robins (both coaches who’s content I enjoy checking out) but both were different versions in that they weren’t focused on the reflexive stability by grabbing the ‘bell off the ground straight away, but rather were aimed at getting the client set in the bottom position. So kind of the opposite intent.
All are good options for different purposes, so experiment with them all.

*EDIT 20th August 2015: I’ve just filmed another quick video showing a simple improvement for this exercise. Check it out below.

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