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Single Leg Romanian Deadlift (Dumbbell) – How to Instructions, Proper Exercise Form and Tips

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What is a Dumbbell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift?

The single-leg Romanian deadlift might be one of the best exercises you could do in the gym or at home. Unlike many movements, single-leg Romanian deadlifts develop your balance and strengthen many posterior muscles. As a result, the exercise boosts your gym performance, makes you a better athlete, and improves your ability to perform daily tasks.

Unlike a traditional deadlift, the goal with single-leg Romanian deadlifts is to balance yourself on one leg as you hinge at the hip. Balancing is quite challenging, and regular practice teaches you to remain stable more easily. Training one leg at a time is also great for improving your mind-muscle connection and strengthening your glutes and hamstrings.

As an accessory exercise, you should include the single-leg Romanian deadlift at the start or in the middle of your leg workouts. Avoid getting too tired before doing the activity because you will struggle to remain balanced.

How to do a Dumbbell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

  1. Grab a pair of moderately-heavy dumbbells and stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed slightly out.
  2. Bend your knees slightly, and bring your shoulders back.
  3. Lift one foot off the floor and bend the knee of your supporting leg a bit more for better gluteal activation.
  4. Take a breath and hinge at the hips as you keep your supporting leg in a static position. Your other leg should extend back, and your spine should remain neutral.
  5. Lower your torso until it becomes parallel with the floor. You should feel an intense stretch in your posterior muscles.
  6. Contract your glutes as you exhale and slowly raise your torso to the starting position by extending your hips forward as your back leg gets in line with the supporting one.
  7. Take a deep breath and repeat the motion. After that, do the same number of reps on your other leg.

What muscles does a single-Leg Romanian deadlift with a dumbbell activate?

Despite the outward simplicity, single-leg Romanian deadlifts train your entire body. Most notably, the movement works your hamstrings, which cover the posterior of your thighs (1). The hamstrings connect the knees to our hips, and one of their primary functions is hip extension, which occurs during the exercise (2).

Similarly, the movement strengthens our glutes, the largest muscle in the body. Our glutes offer stability in the midsection and produce hip extension (3).

The entire back musculature also plays a role in the single-leg Romanian deadlift. Our erector spinae, rhomboids, infraspinatus, trapezius, and other back muscles keep your shoulder blades retracted and your spine in a neutral position. 

Midsection muscles (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques) also contribute during a single-leg Romanian deadlift to provide torso support.

Tips on what to Focus on when doing a Dumbbell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift 

The greatest challenge of single-leg Romanian deadlifts is maintaining enough balance to stimulate the correct muscles. So, before focusing on anything else, begin by getting comfortable balancing yourself on one leg.

Once you can maintain balance on a single leg, introduce slight torso leaning while keeping your back neutral. Hold onto something for balance (for example, a squat rack) and gradually increase the amount of torso lean until you reach a point at which you feel your posterior muscles working. As you start doing complete repetitions, let go of the object that supports you. It takes practice to get comfortable with the movement pattern and maintain balance on a single leg, so patience is critical. 

Warrior 3 is a yoga pose that can help you master the single-leg Romanian deadlift. The pose forces you to balance yourself on one leg, allowing you to strengthen the same muscles you would use during Romanian deadlifts.

As for technique, what matters most is that you maintain a neutral spine, distribute your weight evenly on the supporting foot, and actively engage your midsection muscles. Doing all three things will speed up the process of learning the single-leg Romanian deadlift and help you reap its benefits for a long time.

Variations and Modifications of the Dumbbell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

1. Supported Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

single leg romanian deadlift dumbbell

The supported single-leg Romanian deadlift is a beginner-friendly variation that teaches you the movement pattern. Hold onto something for balance, support yourself on one foot, and practice the hip hinge.

2. Landmine Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

The landmine single-leg Romanian deadlift is a variation you perform by holding a barbell in a landmine attachment. Landmine Romanian deadlifts are beneficial because you can load your posterior muscles with more weight. Plus, since the barbell is anchored, holding it offers some support, making it easier to remain stable.

3. Barbell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Barbell single-leg Romanian deadlifts are one of the most challenging variations. The objective is to hold a barbell with a shoulder-width grip, support yourself on one foot, and perform the hip hinge. 

Mistakes to Avoid

The most common mistake with the single-leg Romanian deadlift is attempting the movement with no deadlift experience. Learning to hinge at the hip is an essential part of the Romanian deadlift, so taking the time to master it is helpful. Begin with the basic hip hinge pattern before supporting yourself on one foot.

Another significant mistake with the movement is allowing excessive back rounding. Instead of pushing the buttocks back and loading their hamstrings, trainees often round their lower back to do the exercise. Aside from failing to train the correct muscles, doing so puts significant stress on your spine, resulting in back pain.

The third mistake to look out for is excessive knee flexion and extension. Many trainees bend their supporting leg as they lean forward and extend it as they stand up. Doing so makes the movement more unstable and shifts the tension toward the quadriceps. Avoid the mistake by maintaining a slight bend in your supporting knee throughout each set.

Shortening the range of motion is also a significant mistake because it prevents you from training the correct muscles effectively. You should lean your torso forward until it becomes parallel to the floor before standing up. Anything less would prevent you from stretching and shortening the posterior muscles effectively.

Similar Exercises to the Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift with a Dumbbell

Glute Ham Raise

Like single-leg Romanian deadlifts, the glute ham raise is an effective assistance exercise that strengthens your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back (1). The objective is to anchor yourself on a glute hamstring machine and use your posterior muscles to lower and raise your torso.

Good Morning (Barbell)

man good morning barbell

The good morning is an excellent compound exercise that allows you to load your posterior chain musculature with a lot of weight. Similar to squats, you have to place a barbell on your upper back. But, instead of squatting, you perform a hip hinge that trains your hamstrings, glutes, and entire back.

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