Lots of lifters have a large, strong upper body and tiny ass chicken legs. Our legs are so important, so make sure you are not one of the many people that do not give them the attention and training they need and deserve.
Besides all of the functional benefits you get, if you are working your upper body and not the lower, your proportions are going to look ridiculous. Also, don't think you can use your pants to hide them because in the gym there is nothing easier to spot.
The Single Leg Deadlift is a great exercise that can add some significant size to your hamstring(the back of your legs) and strengthen your entire posterior chain. It will also help you to increase your hip strength and power which can carry over to increase weight on lifts like your squats.
How to Guide
Single Arm Kettlebell Deadlift
Step by Step Description
Step 1: Grab a kettlebell with one of your hands. Lift your foot on the opposite side of the kettlebell off of the floor.
Step 2: Keep a slight bend in the leg you have planted on the floor. Bend at your hips lowering the kettlebell towards the floor while extending your free leg behind you for balance. Use your free arm to help assist you with balance.
Step 3: Remember to keep your back flat and keep lowering the weight until you are parallel to the ground.
Step 4: Reverse direction raising the kettlebell while lowering your leg.
Repeat on the opposite side to complete one repetition.
Two Arm Kettlebell Deadlift
Hass less core requirement since your body no longer gets offset by having more weight on one side than the other. However, it allows you to lift heavier and place more focus on developing strength in your legs.
Step 1: Grab a kettlebell with each hand and hold them at your sides. Lift one of your legs a couple of inches off of the ground. Have your other foot firmly planted on the ground.
You are now in the starting position.
Step 2: Hinge your hips back and bring your foot that is off the ground up, while bringing your upper body towards the floor remember to keep a flat back. Do not worry if you can not get the kettlebells all the way down to the floor.
Step 3: Now reverse direction by Hinging your hips forwards lifting the kettlebells up to the starting position.
You have now completed one repetition.
Single Leg Deadlifts get rated at an Intermediate difficulty level.
Before using this exercise, you should have a full understanding and proper form when performing the traditional Stiff Leg Deadlift exercise.
Since you are balancing on a single leg, you are going to have to work harder to keep your body stabilized.
As the title states to perform this version of the Single Leg Deadlift, you are going to need at least one kettlebell, but ideally, you should have a pair of kettlebells.
However, you can still perform the movement of this lift with dumbbells or a barbell if you do not have access to any kettlebells.
Your Hamstrings are the primary muscle worked when you are performing the single leg deadlift.
The secondary muscles involved are your Glutes(the butt), your Quadriceps(muscle group covering the front and sides of the thigh), your Core especially your Obliques(muscles that run along the side of your core), and the Traps.
Multiple smaller muscles groups referred to as the lateral subsystem get recruited to help you maintain your balance of only being on one leg.
By training each of your legs separately, you will be able to find any imbalances you may have developed. If you do discover any imbalances, you can then use this lift to help even out your sides.
Unilateral training(training sides individually) gets used heavily by athletes since when you are performing actions like running where one leg pushes off the ground while the other is in the air your sides are working opposite to one another.
Having strong posterior chain is crucial when you are performing explosive movements involving your lower body. Your hamstrings are responsible for shifting the load from your knees to the hips and act as shock absorbers when you perform high-velocity force (think the landing portion of the long jump).
Pick a spot where you do not have to worry about someone suddenly walking behind you and where you are far away from the wall(or mirror) that your heel is not going to slam into it.
The leg you keep on the floor needs a Small bend at the knee. The more you bend at the knee, the less efficient the exercise is at targeting your hamstrings. Research shows that approximately a 20-degree angle at your knee provides maximal recruitment of your Hamstrings. Hold your leg in this position the entire time you are performing this exercise.
It is best to include this exercise early in your routine. You risk of injury increases on this exercise with the more fatigued especially for people just learning the lift.
When you are first learning the exercise, it is best to practice the movement with just your body before adding a kettlebell.
Keep your back straight the entire time. Rounding of the lower back is a problem many people have with his lift. Keeping your shoulders pulled back and down can help reduce any rounding.
You can perform this exercise with one or two kettlebells. Using two will allow you to load significantly more weight but reduces the work placed on your core muscles since your body no longer has to resist leaning to the side.
When you are raising the kettlebell up, you need to drive your hips forward.
Over time many people who do not perform any unilateral training usually end up with muscle imbalances between their two sides. Unilateral training is a perfect way for you to find and correct these imbalances.
Most athletes perform a significant amount of single leg training since it so closely mimics the movements done in many sports. If you are trying to increase your athletic performance, unilateral training should get included in your routine.
Looking to gain more strength or lose some weight? We offer free fitness tools to help you reach your fitness goals. Register for free while we are in beta and get free lifetime access to our fitness tools that include an easy to use Calorie Counter, High-Intensity Interval Timer, Multiple Fitness Calculators and our Exercise Logger.