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  • Deanne Pandey

This exercise will change your leg day game!

While working on our legs and glutes, we often include squats, Romanian deadlifts, hip thrusts and lunges. These require coordination between both your legs. However, independent training can also boost your leg day game in terms of balance and strength. Nearly every athlete can benefit from performing unilateral leg training. Increased neuromuscular control, joint and muscular function, and muscular hypertrophy and endurance are just a few of the expected positive outcomes of including such movements into training programs.

If you are going to have a leg day or want an exercise focusing on increasing your leg strength, Romanian deadlifts should definitely make your list. This exercise is particularly significant due to the different variations one can take up, including the single leg RDL. This unilateral exercise is a powerhouse of a move. Posterior Chain Muscles are the muscles that are on the backside of your body. These muscles are essential for strength training and balance, yet they are often harder to activate. A single leg RDL, however, does a fantastic job of engaging posterior muscles. Hamstrings are essential for hip flexion and knee movement and mobility, and they are often overlooked in the gym. Single leg Romanian deadlifts don’t just target the upper posterior muscles, they also can engage your lower leg muscles as well. Because this is a unilateral exercise, you will lift one leg while the other is planted on the ground. It activates your lower leg muscles in a couple of different ways. It is first activated in the leg that you are pulling up into the air as you hinge forward. The leg planted on the ground during this movement also activates your lower leg (calves and ankles) by keeping your body stable. Other single leg RDL benefits are glute activation at two important points in the exercise. Similar to when it targets your hamstrings, it activates your glutes when you hinge forward. They’re also activated when you are pulling your body back up to the standing position. Single leg RDLs are a great way to mix it up while also targeting your glutes and building those muscles. Your hips aren’t the only thing stabilizing with single leg RDLs, your whole body is! When we’re young, we do all kinds of things to work on our balance. We climb trees, pretend sidewalk curbs are balance beams, play hopscotch and so on. But, as we grow older, we work on our balance less and less while the importance of having a good balance becomes more and more. Speaking of stability, another enormous benefit of incorporating a single leg RDL into your routine is that it will build your hip stability and strength.

Here's how to reap the benefits of this versatile exercise-

  1. Start by standing upright with your knees soft and your body relaxed.

  2. Standing steady, lift your left leg off the ground by bending at the knee.

  3. As you hinge at your hips, reach both arms straight forward and kick your left leg straight backwards. Your body should be in a straight line parallel to the floor. Make sure your core is activated and your hips are straight. 

  4. If you would like a static hold, you can hold this pose for 10-30 seconds.

  5. Simultaneously, bring your arms and left leg in as you hinge to the upright starting position. Again, make sure you tighten your core.

  6. Repeat a set number of times and then switch legs or do the exercises alternating the leg each time.

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