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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Single Leg RDL and Deadlift...The Forgotten SUPER HERO exercise!

So by now I think most of my readers understand a lot about me. They have an idea about who I am, what I've done, and what I am looking to do!

It's all about getting to know who is training you and giving you advice right? I mean, the word "personal" lies right within my deemed title.

I just STRONGLY believe in mental attitude and awareness. It is one thing that I have seen on a day in/day out basis with clients I train.

You had a stressful day at work

You woke up late and didn't get anything done

Your boss is giving you hell

You missed breakfast...and lunch...and have no energy

You are being bombarded with negativity 

You HATE my workouts

....Hmmmm...Well...Maybe fibbing about the last one there, right!?? :)

Back to my topic...I see it all...I remember seeing frustrated athletes daily, who constantly beat themselves up over the thought of potentially failing at a given task. 

You see, in college, I WAS EVEN GUILTY OF THIS. The thought of letting yourself down, or maybe a friend, coach, co-worker, or family member. Nobody likes to disappoint least not normal people.

I remember subconsciously thinking to myself:

"Come on Mike, get this sh** done, or it's all over for you."
"Get the hell up, and get training...or you will be sitting on the bench."
"Really...that's what you call a strong push-up?"

Constant thoughts can render and tear even the strongest minds apart...but what separates the true competitors and successful people in this world are the ones who GET RIGHT BACK UP. The ones who might expect perfection, but also realize reality and do the best they possibly can.

I remember seeing a GREAT runner train in the gym one day. She was doing deadlifts. She really seemed to be having a rough day and could have the barbell hit the floor even on both sides, having the weights slip off every few reps. Next thing I know(after the few minutes of seeing her facial expressions look as if she would rip me apart even), she took the barbell and tossed it towards the cage which then cracks the mirror behind it.

Obsessed with perfection? DEFINITELY! this mindset such a harmful thing? I mean, EVERY successful business person in this country has some sort of perfectionism in a particular part of their life. That could mean some great things are in your future then right?

Possibly. You MUST MUST MUST learn how to channel that perfectionism.

That is where I COME IN. There will be days where you feel like throwing in the towel, giving up, throwing weights, medicine balls(most likely at me)...

THAT IS A KNOWN FACT! You must prepare for it, and channel your thoughts into a positive manner. That is where the "personal" part of my job lies.  I stay in CONSTANT touch to the best of my ability with EVERY client. Yes, I get questions on nutrition, workouts, supplements, sleep habits, hormone questions....

Hell, I even get messages from clients asking what skirt or shirt they should buy! Or if Kohl's still has athletic wear that wont rip or shrink in a few days.

Yesterday I got one reading....

"Miiikkkkkeeee....I don't want to get up!!!"

Maybe thinking it's due to soreness from my workout I said...SORE?  The reply was NO.

"THEN GET THE HECK UP AND BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY...nothing gets done sitting on your butt. I don't care if you open the door for someone, pay for some one's coffee at Starbucks, or clean your car...DO SOMETHING that will make you feel accomplished and even better if it is someone else."

Later that day I was told they helped do some gardening work for a neighbor and COMPLETELY made them  feel better because of the simple look of thankfulness on the neighbor's face.

What a change! See, it doesn't take much to take your day and turn it around! You have to believe and accept FIRST....

1) You will have bad days
2) Prepare and have a "way out" so to speak. Have a plan. 

You are your own worst enemy when it comes down to your success in life. You can't blame a lost job, broken relationship, sudden or lingering weight gain, or failed test on anything but YOURSELF.

You must work THROUGH those tough times.  Do you think I wanted to swim with one leg and arm for 3 months? Hell No! But I did what was best for my progress! Sure, I had days that I DID NOT want to go into that pool...but I had a backup plan.

My friends, clients, family...and series of quotes I posted on my wall in my bedroom the day after my surgery all helped me battle.

So next time your having that "rough day," remember, I will always be there to help push you through mentally because it is perfectly normal....

BUT, its ultimately your choice to making the best of the current situation. Whether your training, working, shopping...etc...change that mental mindset into one of positive outlook.

You are there

You are TRYING

You have been working your tail off

You are allowed to stumble and will stumble in life....but it's your mental state of mind that separates the weak from the dominant.

Which route will you take?

Now onto my OTHER topic. The Single Leg Romanian Deadlift and Regular Deadlift.

Single leg RDLs are, almost 95% of the time, overlooked by other trainers and coaches.  They use the bilateral exercise of basic RDLs and Convential Deadlifts because they don't want to spend the time to research the many benefits of the single leg variations!

To point out a few:

The single leg deadlift is an effective exercise for the development of the glutes and posterior chain, grip, and lateral core, while also teaching proprioception, stability and force generation off one leg.

Yes, two legs means MORE WEIGHT..but single leg variations play a HUGE role to athletes who need unilateral training in their sport...which is EVERYONE.

First thing your sport's coach always told you...NEVER STAND FLAT FOOTED! Well, there is your proof.

DAM...pretty simple right?

So how is the exercise performed?

Two major movement cues are necessary for this exercise: “straight back and forward facing hips.” Axial twisting or bending in the spine takes away from the efficacy of the exercise, violates basic movement laws for injury prevention and makes your movement inefficient – all terrible things if you want to perform at a high level.

Another important movement cue is hip posture – shoulders and hips always facing the same direction. As the shoulders and hips deviate two things happen:

1)  We induce axial twisting of the spine. This is a mechanism the spine does not like (Drake et. al., 2005). Pair this with added load, and we are sapping tolerance the spine can take before injury.

2)  Movement inefficiency. How many fast and powerful movements can you think of that require the spine and hips to rotate away from each other?  Most rotational movements (swinging a baseball bat, throwing a punch) require rotation of the hips and shoulders to work in concert to make rotational power more efficient.

There will be a natural tendency for the hip to want to open up to the free end, but fight to keep this hip down and pointed forward at all times.

Also, here are a few other postural cues that are VERY important to remember when doing this exercise:


  • Chin back/head neutral. Keeping the neck neutral helps reduce excessive extensor or flexor torque on the neck. It won’t make or break the exercise but does make it a bit friendlier on the cervical spine.

  • Keep the shoulders in neutral posture while pulling the shoulder blades back, locking them in place and contracting the upper back musculature. As the lats have attachment points along the spine, activation of this muscle group improves torso stability. 


  • Keep a tight, death grip on your weights. This follows the irradiation or co-contraction theory espoused by Pavel Tsatsouline which improves activation of musculature throughout the entire body. This is also a great way to improve your crushing grip strength and build a strong pair of forearms.

  •  Keep the core braced as if a friend or enemy is going to hit you in the stomach. If you’re loose it’s going to hurt, but if you’re braced correctly you’ll be fine. This is the same brace you should use when performing a SLDL or any load bearing exercise.

Planted Leg:
  • Grip the floor with your foot like a monkey and root yourself into the ground to maintain stability between yourself and the ground.
  • Contract the quadriceps and hamstrings to develop stability of the planted leg.

Free Leg:

  • Press the heel of the free leg outward, pulling the toes down and forcing the heel out. Keep this cue while you allow the leg to swing with the torso.

 Free Leg Too High!

Note the major cues: neutral head posture, back leg parallel with torso, back toes pointed down with heel driven outward, tight grip, core braced, hips squared with shoulders.

So, in summary, THIS powerful exercise is GREAT for overall glute recruitment and isolation! It does wonders for proprioceptive skills and will help enhance strength gains as well as development of single leg stability and anti-rotation and lateral bending core stability.

What MORE can this exercise do? SAVE YOUR KNEES! Yes, keeping those glutes strong will keep the knees healthy! So why not try this out! You have nothing to lose but all to gain my friends! 

The single leg stance also develops frontal plane (side to side) stability. When we stand in a uniform bilateral stance we are in symmetry; each leg bears half the bodyweight load spaced equally from the body’s centre of mass. However, as soon as we are required to balance on one leg, we put ourselves in uneven load distribution and must generate muscular force to maintain stability to keep ourselves from tipping over. In this unilateral stance, two groups of muscles contribute to stability – the glute of the planted leg and the opposite lateral core. When these two muscle groups activate together they prevent the torso and knee from buckling laterally; the challenge to these muscle groups is increased under external load.

Doing bilateral squats and deadlifts work so many muscle groups and using the single leg variation will put constraints on certain muscle groups to isolate and strengthen properly.

This exercise can be performed at the beginning of a workout(which I prefer) as a stability and unilateral strength exercise OR it can be used as a main lift if the athlete primarily needs unilateral work! 

Well that's all I got for you on this last day of July! 

Remember, expecting the best from yourself is great...but make sure you control the mental aspects of your thoughts on your bad days, because we all know they will come....

And Now You Will Be Ready! 

And I'll be there to help! As always!

Stay Strong,

Mike Over
Strength & Conditioning Specialist

"You MUST plan ahead. You MUST stay strong, lean on your social support (that's me, right here!), and keep on looking for healthier alternatives to bad habits. Our bad habits MUST be attacked head-on. We MUST overcome fear and destroy weakness. It will not get better by avoiding it. Instead, become what I call, "a Nike Robot"...and...Just do it. I believe in you. Take action today."

  • Drake, J.D., Aultman, C.D., McGil, S.M.,& Callaghan, J.P. (2005). The influence of static axial torque in combined loading on intervertebral joint failure mechanics using a porcine model. Clinical Biomechanics, 20(10), 1038-1045.
  • Callaghan, J. P., & McGill, S. M. (2001). Intervertebral disc herniation: studies on a porcine model  exposed to highly repetitive flexion/extension motion with compressive force. Clinical Biomechanics, 16(1), 28-37.
  •  Souza, R. B., & Powers, C. M. (2009). Differences in hip kinematics, muscle strength, and muscle activation between subjects with and without patellofemoral pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 39(1), 12-19

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