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Effect of One Leg Deadlift on Regular Deadlift


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I'm slowly incorporating one leg deadlifts in my workouts, but currently, I'm only at the stage of acquiring the balance and coordination to execute the exercise. So I'm currently using fairly low weight and not feeling much effect of the exercise (apart from getting closer to lifting my supporting leg).

 

So I would like to hear from people with experience with one leg deadlifts.

Do you find it beneficial to you general athleticism/fitness? Does it benefit your regular deadlift? 

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In general, unilateral exercises are good for correcting muscle imbalances, improving balance, and strengthening stabilising muscles. Single leg deadlifts in particular may help with functional strength and balance for day-to-day activities such as picking up objects off the floor, especially if the load isn't perfectly balanced like it would be for a barbell deadlift. The fact that you are finding single leg deadlifts challenging (even if not from a strength perspective) means that you are probably benefiting from the exercise, even if they don't build your overall deadlift strength much. Since they involve a light load, they are also unlikely to hinder your progress since they won't be very difficult to recover from.

 

I'm doing some single leg dumbbell deadlifts now as a way to increase exercise difficulty while I don't have access to heavy weights. When I was training with a barbell, I primarily used heavier deadlift variations and accessory exercises like barbell RDLs, deficit deadlifts, paused deadlifts, and pull ups to help me make progress. I still did single leg deadlifts occasionally, but I don't think they helped my barbell deadlift much since the load was so different and I didn't have any major imbalances or stability issues. I am planning to try out a more complex variation (see #2 here) to work on balance for pistol squats, though, so you might also find that they help with other exercises besides your deadlift.

 

You could also experiment with using light single leg deadlifts as a warm up to activate your glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles prior to heavier deadlifts, as long as they don't tire out your core muscles or one side of your body. I personally haven't tried using them in this way, but I do find other unilateral glute activation exercises such as bird dogs really helpful before squats and deadlifts. 

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Personally I find that one-leg deadlifts are easier with a heavier weight, because holding a heavy weight in the hand opposite from the leg I am standing on makes it easier to balance.

 

I firmly believe that strengthening the smaller stabilizer muscles in legs and torso make it easier to lift barbells, because form is everything, and stable balance is form. That said, I believe that over time one-leg deadlifts can also help with the standard barbell deadlift simply because they strengthen the glutes. 

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