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3 single-leg deadlift variations

Single-leg deadlifts combine two of my favorite types of movement: deadlifts and unilateral exercises. Single-leg deadlifts can be beneficial in many client programs depending on their goals and abilities.

As we know from understanding unilateral movements, single-sided exercises can help us bridge the gap between muscular imbalances, improve stability, and increase core utilization.

1. Kickstand RDLs (Romanian Deadlifts)

Kickstand RDLs allow you to build strength and endurance in the leg of the planted foot before advancing to a full single-leg deadlift where your foot is completely off of the ground. Kickstand RDLs still challenge the glute, hamstring, core and overall stability without the added balance aspect.

2. SL Deadlifts

Your standard single-leg deadlift can be done without weight, with weight in various modalities (dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, and barbells), ipsalaterally (weight held on the same side), or contralaterally (weight held on the opposite side). All variations and modalities will challenge the glute, hamstring, core, stability, and balance.

A couple keys to balancing in a single-leg deadlift include: keeping the weight in line with your mid-foot to help your center of gravity, keeping your eyes in one place the whole time, and keeping all three points of your foot (heel, under big toe, and under little toe) in contact with the ground throughout the whole exercise.

3. SL Deadlift with a Knee Drive

This one is popular with my running clients because it allows for growth in stability, strength, endurance, AND power. Although essentially the same as a regular SL Deadlift, there's an added flare of driving the knee up at the end of the movement. This requires power and stability from the hip complex.

All three variations (and others) can be found in my 1:1 training programs. Learn more here.

View the video below for three single-leg deadlift variations.


Katharine Moustakes
Hey, friend!

I'm Katharine.

I'm a personal trainer, running coaching, and nutrition coach who's stoked about lifting, the outdoors, summit snacks, and my dog.


I understand that fitness is not your whole life. Fitness is a PART of your life. I approach training in a way that adds value to your life and longevity, so you can enjoy being active whether you're romping around in the mountains, playing with your kids, or signing up for your first 10K race.

I'm here to meet you where you are, so you can train safely and effectively, and gain strength and confidence both in the gym and on the trails.

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