A single-weight deadlift (otherwise known as a single-leg dumbbell deadlift) is one of those common moves that is all too easy to screw up. There’s a lot going on—it’s got you holding a dumbbell, balancing on one leg, and trying to hinge forward while extending your leg back all at the same time—which means that proper form is hard to come by. But just because the move is difficult to get right doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.
“This is one of my go-to moves for working the booty, because it’s a hip-dominant exercise for targeting the glutes and the hamstrings,” says trainer and Le Sweat founder Charlee Atkins. But, she says, there are admittedly a lot of common mistakes that people make when trying to do them on their own, which can ultimately mess up your form and prevent you from reaping the full benefits of the lower-body-strength-building move.
Some of the biggies she sees on the reg? People often put their weight in the wrong hand (it should be on the opposite side from the standing leg), which causes them to open up their hips to the wrong side. Or, they turn the move into a sort of squat, bending both knees instead of just the working one to distribute the weight in all the wrong places. Extending your leg too far back in a de-facto airplane pose is also a no-no, as is hunching your upper body as you extend into the move, because it prevents you from properly engaging your core.
Luckily, adjusting these oopsies in a single-leg dumbbell deadlift is as easy as pressing play on the video above, in which Atkins demonstrates how to do the move the right way. If your entire lower body is on fire by the time you’re done, you’ll know you’ve got it down pat.
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