Why the Single Leg Romanian Deadlift is Essential for Your Lower Body Training

When it comes to sculpting a strong and well-functioning lower body, conventional exercises such as squats and deadlifts often take the spotlight. However, if you’re looking to truly maximize your lower body gains and activate your glutes and hamstrings on a whole new level, the single leg Romanian deadlift (SLRDL) is an exercise that deserves your attention.

In a recent video by renowned strength and conditioning Coach Bret Contreras, he delves into the intricacies of the SLRDL, explaining its benefits and demonstrating proper technique for an optimal workout experience. So, let’s dive in and explore why this exercise is an absolute necessity for anyone looking to level up their lower body training.

Benefiting the posterior chain

One of the primary reasons why the single leg Romanian deadlift is so effective is because it specifically targets the posterior chain muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. This exercise is essential for strengthening and sculpting these muscles, helping create a more well-rounded lower body and add to your overall “X frame” look.

By focusing on a single leg at a time, the SLRDL helps expose and address any imbalances or weaknesses between your left and right sides. This unilateral training is vital for not only enhancing muscular development but also improving stability and balance.

Proper technique for maximum effectiveness

To perform the SLRDL correctly, Contreras emphasizes the importance of maintaining a neutral spine, hinging at the hips, and keeping the chest lifted throughout the movement. Begin by standing with feet shoulder-width apart, maintaining a slight bend in the knee of the working leg. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in the opposite hand of the working leg, and slowly hinge forward, extending the non-working leg behind you.

As you hinge forward, engage your glutes and hamstrings while keeping your core tight. Aim to bring your torso parallel to the floor while ensuring your back stays straight and your hips remain square to the ground. Feel a stretch in your hamstring as you descend, and then drive through the heel of the working leg to return to the starting position.

Single leg Romanian deadlift variations

Once you’ve mastered the conventional SLRDL, Contreras highlights several variations that can add intensity and diversity to your lower body workout.

– Elevated SLRDL: Perform the exercise on an elevated surface like a step or a weight plate, allowing for an increased range of motion and further activation of the glutes and hamstrings.

– Single-leg barbell SLRDL: As you become more advanced, consider progressing to using a barbell instead of dumbbells or kettlebells. This addition of external load will help progressively overload the muscles, leading to further strength gains.


Incorporating the single leg Romanian deadlift into your lower body training regimen will undoubtedly take your lower body development to new heights. Not only does it target the major muscle groups of the posterior chain, but it also helps improve balance, stability, and symmetry between each leg.

Remember, mastering proper technique is crucial to reap the full benefits of the single-leg Romanian deadlift. Be patient, start with lighter weights, and gradually increase the load as you improve your strength and stability.

So, if you haven’t already started incorporating this exercise into your training routine, it’s time to give it a try. With consistent practice and proper execution, the single-leg Romanian deadlift will undoubtedly help you forge a stronger, more balanced lower body. If you’d like to have an insight on effective exercises and programming then the below video will help you unlock the true potential of your glutes and hamstrings!

If you’d like the exact game-plan, implementation, and to work with elite coaches who will support you ever step of the way then click here to learn more!

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