Improve your one-leg strength, improve your balance, and (of course) build better glutes and hamstrings. How? With an exercise. This:
“Tight” one-leg deadlift
How it goes
- Stand in front of a power rack or unused fitness equipment. You want to be able to hold it at about chest height.
- Hold a dumbbell in the same hand as your forward working leg. Note the angle of the dumbbell and how the handle and your grip stay firmly in your leg at all times.
- Take one leg off the floor and start the support to stay balanced by stepping off your one leg deadlift.
- Try to put as much weight on your glutes as possible. Really “sit”
- Focus on pushing your hips back while allowing some flexion of your support knee.
- Don’t use the support to lift the weight, but rather to keep you balanced while your focus is on hitting your glutes and hammies as hard as possible.
- When you get tired, you can start using the support to help you lift up while the downward movement should still be everything to you. This is optional, but a great way to get closer to failure if you are feeling particularly masochistic.
Why this exercise works
Regular one-leg deadlifts are a great option if you want to build strength, stability, and a bulletproof lower body. The problem is, your lack of balance can get in the way. And while practicing on one leg with no support is important to get better, it doesn’t do much for your pancake bum or weak hamstrings in the meantime.
By doing one leg deadlift with support, you can increase strength and stability one leg at a time without becoming too shaky. This can either help you prepare for more unstable things over time – if that’s a route that suits your goals – or you can just stick to partial support to build better glutes and hamstrings. Tight one-leg deadlifts meet in the middle and delight both the “functional” camp and the hardcore meatheads.
Keeping the dumbbell near and on the side of the grounded leg (ipsilateral) will make these deadlifts easy on your back while adding more stress to the glutes and hamstrings of your guide leg. Tight one-legged deadlifts are kind of a hybrid between a one-legged Romanian deadlift and a skater squat, both of which have the benefits of the back.
Sets and repetitions depend on your goals and your training phase. In general, start with 3 sets of 8-12 on each leg and don’t be afraid of getting heavy. Your balance won’t hold you back!
Related: Body weight, strength & fitness from home
Related: Strong glutes, healthy back