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Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Learning how to use the lower body appropriately is crucial for a number of high-performance bike skills. The single-leg RDL helps develop balance and power.

Strength and conditioning coach Jess Elliott of TAG Performance has worked with many cyclists. She often sees similar issues when it comes to general strength in these athletes.

This video is part of a series of full-body movements in which Jess walks through a multi-planar approach to strength to address those specific weaknesses that she so often sees. The goals are to build stability, efficiency, and resilience.

Learning how to use the lower body appropriately is crucial for a number of high-performance bike skills.

Improving balance assists with our confidence in cornering by managing our center of mass. Improving unilateral movements is great for those times when we are climbing out of the saddle.

Of note, there’s no sophisticated equipment necessary to perform these exercises. For those athletes who want to try the advanced progressions, have sliders, a dumbbell or kettle bell, and a pillow or mat handy.

For more on preventing injuries through strength and conditioning, check out Fast Talk, episode 87: Preventing Injuries Through Strength and Conditioning, with Jess Elliott.

For a better understanding of why it is so important to make time for off-the-bike strength and conditioning work, check out Cycling in Alignment, episode 16: Strength and Conditioning, with Jess Elliott of TAG Performance.

Single-Leg RDL (Romanian Deadlift)

  • Equipment: backpack, dumbbells, kettle bells
  • Benefits:
    • hip dominant lower body pull
    • balance
    • unilateral emphasis
    • great for barefoot training
  • Link to cycling = cornering, descending
  • Start with 5-10 repetitions per leg, progressing to 2-3 sets

Video Transcript

Jess Elliott

“For this final movement, we’re going to be doing a single leg RDL, stands for Romanian deadlift or straight leg deadlift. But you can also call this inverted hamstring. So for this movement, he’s going to start by standing on one leg, and then yup, if you need to balance you can feel free to reach out, grab a shoulder. So this is going to be a lower body pulling movement, emphasizing the posterior chain, primarily, the hamstring and the hips of the standing leg. Alright, so he’s standing on his left side. So he’s got a slight bend at the knee, so we don’t want to be locked out. his right foot is hovering off the ground. And as his torso comes down, he’s going to slowly lift the back leg up off the grounds, and then come back up. So we’re going to reset we’re going to do a couple reps here. So balance is definitely essential. So you want to not walk out the knee. Good, and you don’t want to squat into this, good. So slightly bend the rest of this is going to be coming from the hips, and then use the hamstring glute to slowly extend back up through this legs, so we’re working on hip extension of the standing leg. Still a couple more reps if you want, you can change up sides, good. So I want you to think about the body kind of like a seesaw when you’re going through this movement. So as the torso comes down, that back leg is going to come up to counterbalance. So you don’t want the back leg to get stuck on the ground as the torso is laying down, because otherwise you’re going to look like you’re bent in half. So once again, head to heel, strong as steel, you want a nice straight line all the way from ears to angles, good and to extend from the hips, he’s going to use the hamstrings and the glutes. The big thing we don’t want to see here is pulling with the lower back to return to that standing position. So only lower as far as you can with control. Ideally, we want to see you parallel to the ground, it’s okay if you can’t get there on your first couple of tries. That’s something that you can work to as you become more comfortable with this movement as and as your balance improves, and this is how we do a single leg RDL.”