In one of my previous posts I have written about the straight leg deadlift. Although this exercise has great value and should be a part of all strength training programs, the single leg variations provide even more benefit. The reaching single leg deadlift exercise targets several areas of the body which are often problematic, such as the hips (glutes/hamstrings), back (spinal erectors), and balance. For all of my clients, my goal is to progress them from bilateral exercises, on both legs, to unilateral exercises, on one leg. If you look at activities such as walking, going up or down stairs, jogging, and most sports, you will notice we often rely only on a single leg for support. So, wouldn’t it make sense to train with more single leg exercises in the gym? Bilateral exercises don’t target the stabilizers of the hip and ankle like the single leg variations do.
Purpose of the exercise:
Strengthen the gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles
Improve hip and ankle stability in single leg stance
Improve core stability, specifically the spinal erectors
Actively lengthen the hamstrings
Steps to properly execute the exercise:
- Hold a 5-10lb medicine ball in your outstretched arms
- Stand on one leg with a slightly bent knee (about 15 degrees)
- While hinging at the hips, reach your arms forward toward a wall while raising your back leg up so it remains in line with the upper body
- In the stretched position, while the body is parallel to the floor, squeeze from the hips (not the lower back) to return the body to the starting position
- Repeat for the desired sets and repetitions
Note: Strong focus needs to be placed on keeping good upper body posture (shoulder blades pulled back and down), keeping the shoulders and hips facing forward/towards the ground as you lower, and only using the hip to create motion.