single leg romanian deadlift

Why the single-leg Romanian deadlift is so undervalued

5 minute read

When I am working with people, I want to find exercises that have the most bang for their buck. Simply put, what exercises can we find to hit a few different goals at once?

One of my staples for low back pain is the single leg Romanian deadlift (SL RDL).

To perform this, stand on one leg with a dumbbell or barbell in the landmine attachment in the hand opposite to the leg you are standing on. Slowly lower the weight down until you get a few inches from the floor. The key to this is to tighten your core and hip musculature, and make sure you don’t allow your hips to roll over. You want to make sure that your pelvis is level.

So what if you don’t have a landmine attachment? That is 100% okay! I like doing the landmine attachment with people because it helps people find balance and feel secure, but mostly I just prefer the landmine attachment.

So, that is cool and all.. we figured out how to perform. Now WHY do we perform it?

I have found that most people are weak in their hips, in all planes but especially on the side and the front (abductors and hip flexors, respectively) despite being super strong athletes. Performing single limb activities require CORE, HIP ABDUCTORS, POSTERIOR CHAIN, BACK, CALVES, etc. Look at all those muscles performed.

The RDL itself works a ton of muscles, but the use of unilateral/single limb work really causes increases in muscle recruitment in these areas.

In this study performed by Delgado, it is actually found that the bilateral RDL is comparable to many other major movements such as back squat and barbell hip thrust. This not only means that it is a good exercise for muscle activation, but could also be a potential for alternatives when training with pain.

I implement the single leg RDL for people who have injuries in low back, hip, knee, ankle, or just want to improve core work. This exercise requires a lot of balance, but it also creates a ton of muscle activation in a bunch of different areas, and can be applicable to a whole lot of people.

This is also a great exercise to reduce the overall load on your back/hip/knee, while still getting a good workout for all these areas. A reduction in load is one of the most important things to consider while rehabbing an injury and the single leg RDL allows you to do that!

So, give this a shot and let me know what you think!


Delgaldo, J. (2019, October). Comparison Between Back Squat, Romanian Deadlift, and… : The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Retrieved January 09, 2021, from https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2019/10000/Comparison_Between_Back_Squat,_Romanian_Deadlift,.1.aspx

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