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Paleo Fitness Exercise: The Single-Leg Dead Lift

The single-leg dead lift is pretty much what it sounds like — the dead lift using only one leg — with a few minor tweaks, of course. Most natural and athletic movements happen from a split stance, not an even one, so it’s equally important to train the one-limbed (unilateral) movements as it is the two-limbed (bilateral) movements.

The big benefits of the single-leg dead lift that don’t necessarily come with the conventional dead lift are the additional balance, coordination, and motor control components.

Use a kettlebell or dumbbell for this exercise, but if you want to develop extra balance and coordination, practice this movement as often as possible without weight. Here are the steps for the single-leg dead lift with a weight:

1

Stand on top of the weight so it’s positioned between your heels.

Push your heel back and up toward the ceiling.

Be sure to minimize any twisting and rotation throughout the movement. Both of your shoulders should fall and rise at the same rate; you want to keep them as square as possible throughout the movement.

2

As your back heel starts to rise, naturally let yourself hinge at the hips. Allow your knee to bend as you hinge.

To keep your balance, your knee may even come slightly forward in the single-leg dead lift.

This is a single-leg dead lift. Not a “stiff leg” single-leg dead lift. So let the knee bend! If you don’t, you run the risk of overloading the hamstring.

3

When you’re able to, reach down and grab the weight with the arm opposite the planted leg.

For example, if your right leg is on the ground, grab the weight with your left arm.

4

Finish the movement the same way you came into it, standing tall at the top.

Be sure to place the weight back down exactly how you picked it up.

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