Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Exercise of the Day: Single-Leg Deadlift

The glutes and the hamstrings.....very often overlooked yet oh so important for strength and injury prevention!

Most of my clients will tell you that I go on and on about the importance of strengthening these key muscles. The glutes and the hamstrings are what keep your pelvis aligned and provide a foundation for your balance. When your glutes and hamstrings are weak, it affects your entire body and how successfully it functions.

One exercise you can include into your workout to help strengthen your glutes and hamstrings is the single-leg deadlift.

Here's how to do it: 

1. Keep your shoulders active (think of holding an orange between your shoulder blades but don't squeeze hard enough to juice it) and away from your ears. Straighten your back and keep your chest up to prevent rounding in the back. This is especially important if you are using weights.

2. Raise your left leg behind you, flexing your left foot, and grounding yourself through your right heel. Push through your right heel and lengthen your spine by stretching your head towards the ceiling. You can maintain a slight bend in your right knee to protect the joint.

3. Now hinge at the waist, bringing your hands toward the ground. When your back and left leg are parallel to the floor, hold for two counts. The only movement is at the waist. Keep your shoulders back and active and your chest out; this will prevent your shoulders from rolling forward, which creates unnecessary tension in the neck and along the spine. 

4. Also, keep your pelvis parallel to the floor. Your body will want to tip into the stable leg to have better balance, but this puts unnecessary pressure on your hip joint. To readjust your torso to being even, engage your core muscles in your abs and back. Remember that this is a challenging balance exercise and your core muscles are your best friends for success!

5. SLOWLY, and I mean SLOWLY, squeeze the back of your right leg and your glutes to bring you back up to the starting position. This is the most important part of the exercise, so DO NOT RUSH through this. 

6. Repeat this, keeping your right foot on the floor for a total of 12 repetitions. Switch to your left leg being the stable leg and do 12 repetitions.

7. Do three sets on each leg.


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