Rethinking the Single Leg Deadlift

As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette."  I love how sane and civil the contestants make me feel, but I hate how I can't. stop. watching it.  And by the way, the newest season premiered this past Monday and I'm currently tied with my wife in our fantasy league.

Yes, it exists.

But many of you don't know that I have the same love/hate relationship with single leg deadlifts.

I love how they can help individuals "sit" into their hips, build body awareness, and promote a neutral pelvis. It's also one of the few exercises where almost everyone can feel their hamstrings, especially the people that can palm the floor.  Building stronger, stiffer hamstrings - with our pelvis in the right position - is what most people need, because hamstrings hold us up. 

But I hate how few people are ready for single leg work on Day 1, or even Day 300. Most often, the culprit is a malpositioned pelvis that is tilted too far forward.  This leads to a cascade of events: tight quads, tight hip flexors, calves that won't shut off, and plantar fasciitis related symptoms. Worst of all, it forces people into a system-wide, forward weight shift where someone can't truly sit into their own hips. You'll often see these issues arise when someone attempts a standard SLDL, but their knees slide inward, while their ankles follow suit or go in the opposite direction. And as we've all learned one way or another, correctly aligned joints tend to be the happiest joints of all.

Until recently, I've shied away from SLDLs because of all these issues.  But rather than throwing out the deadlift with the bathwater, I've stolen the following exercise from Mike Perry and use it as a different starting point.

What I didn't mention above is that the bells may need to be elevated to accommodate for someone's mobility or height.  And once someone has mastered the exercise above, I'll have them follow Mike's progression.

So while this isn't The Bachelor, and Monday is a still a few days away, this revised SLDL approach deserves a rose and a place in your program.