Deadlifts can be tough to learn and even tougher on the lower back. That’s why I recommend single-leg deadlift (or hip hinge) variations for most people, especially if you’re over 30. They unload the spine, improve core strength and hip mobility, boost balance, and safely hammer the hamstrings and glutes. That’s why they’re a featured exercise in my Men’s Health MetaShred Extreme program.
Here are 2 of my favorite variations that you can start implementing into your training today:
1. Asymmetrically loaded Bulgarian hip hinge
You’re more likely to see a unicorn than witness someone performing a single-leg hip hinge (also referred to as a single-leg stiff-legged deadlift or RDL) correctly. That’s why I love the Bulgarian hip hinge for hamstring, glute, and back development. Elevating the back foot gives you just enough stability to feel the movement in the support leg without having to constantly reset for balance. It’s kind of like a kickstand on a bike. Now you can focus on keeping your hips and shoulders square and moving at the hip through a full range of motion. The offset loaded versions I show in the video below are also amazing:
I place the opposite hand behind the lower back to both mobilize the chest/anterior shoulder and to ensure the slight arch in the low back is maintained. These are also self-limiting due to the grip challenge of holding the fat part of the bar. In other words, it’s inherently a pretty safe variation if you have a history of back pain.
Plus, using the plates ensures you can never go too low, or lower than trunk parallel to the floor. It’s fine to go lower (and I’d recommend it if you can do it without rounding your spine), but most people don’t have the mobility and stability to do that.
Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 15 reps per side with 30 to 60 seconds rest between sides. For best results, mix between both of these variations over the course of a given training week for the next 6 to 12 weeks.
P.S. The barefoot training socks are from @pedestalfootwear and Captain America plates from @onnit.
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