Struggle with Single Leg RDLs? This might really help

Posted on by Ben Bruno

I really like single leg RDLs, but I have a hard time with them, and so do most of my clients. The hardest part is just the balance aspect, and for reasons I can’t explain, it just seems harder to learn and do well than other single leg exercises like single leg squats, skater squats, etc.

If you’re like me and struggle with them, or if you’re a trainer and find that your clients struggle with them, this variation I want to share today might really help you.

As is typical with me, I don’t have a good name for it, so I just copped out and went the boring route: TRX-Assisted Single Leg RDL.

I know, so creative.

Just put one foot in a TRX set to approximately knee height so the leg is bent around 90 degrees. Any higher may be uncomfortable. From there, hinge at the hips and reach the leg in the TRX straight back behind you, making sure to keep a flat back.

Like so.

As a learning progression, I think it works best to hold a single kettlebell or dumbbell in the opposite hand of the working leg while you extend the other arm straight out to the side for balance. If you’re not ready for additional load, you could just reach your arms out in front of you as you hinge.

Once you get the hang of it and want to add more weight, you can do a similar movement using the barbell, which obviously allows for much greater loads.

I don’t feel entirely comfortable loading these super heavy because I worry about losing balance, so I’d recommend keeping these in the 8-12 rep range to ensure the loads are manageable. I will say though that doing 3-4 sets of 10 with reasonably heavy weight will have your hamstrings begging for mercy, so don’t think of this as a wussy exercise.

I like the TRX for the obvious reason that it provides some stability without being a crutch, so you still have to work hard to stabilize yourself.

At the same time, I like the TRX because it helps reinforce the idea of extending the rear leg straight back, which is something a lot of people struggle with on this exercise.

It’s actually fairly similar to Sliding Singe Leg RDLs, which I shared this summer.

But with the TRX, the rear leg can move in a similar path to a free standing single leg RDL. I like both exercises, but you may not be able to do the sliding version depending on your gym.

In any case, give these a try and let me know what you think.

You can also subscribe to my You Tube page for more videos.

And if you missed this weekend’s Good Reads post, give that a look too.

 

 

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  • Ralph

    Ben, If you don’t have TRX straps would holding a kettlebell with both hands placed over the stationary foot work as a substitute?

    • Ben Bruno

      I’m not sure I understand what you’re describing?

  • Chris

    I’ve always wondered…does it matter what your back leg does? For example some people have a very straight knee on the back leg, others a bent knee, some go high up with the back leg, others keep it fairly low, some cross the body with the back leg, whereas others go straight back. Should you worry what the back leg is doing and where the glutes and making the leg go?

  • Dean

    Liked this!

  • Kirk

    Hey Ben, I try to do a lot of single leg work as well…including 1 leg RDL. I have found that with some of the guys I train, their asis of the leg that is lifted can’t stay pointed toward the floor (externally rotate and abduct a bit) at the hip when executing the move. Is this a mobility issue?

  • http://unblob.blogspot.com/ Cort the Sport

    Great ideas! I do these standing on a stretch cord, holding the handles, and for some reason, that bit of lateral tension helps. I also have to find some tiny thing to focus my eyes on. It’s tricky though!

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