You may have noticed that for a while now we have been implementing a ton of single leg and single arm work in our warm ups, and sometimes our strength sessions. I will be the first to tell you, I love doing single leg, and single arm work. After doing the awaken training series, seeing how imbalanced I was, then working on those imbalances and seeing massive improvements in my function and strength, I have come to really appreciate unilateral (single arm or leg) work. One movement that we use a lot is the single leg romanian deadlift (rdl). This movement is a staple in my warm ups if there are any hinging based movements in the workout for that day. The reason I like to use it so often is because it warms up each side individually, and challenges your balance and coordination. For these same reasons it is an awesome accessory movement if you are looking to improve your strength imbalances. While I do use this movement a lot because of its benefits and transfer to CrossFit movements, it is also a movement I see commonly mis-executed.
One of the more common faults I see with this movement is the rotation of the pelvis, causing the back foot to spin out. Its a compensation that can easily be missed if you are not paying close attention to it. Whenever you are doing this movement you should be on the lookout for this movement fault because it can cause the stabilizers of the hip to become inactive, reducing the benefit of the movement. It can also decrease the amount of activation in your hamstring, which is the primary aim of the movement. A very quick way to combat this common fault is to try and keep the back toes pointed towards the floor. This helps a lot in preventing the rotation of the pelvis, aids in making sure the stabilizers of the hip stay active, and maximizes the amount of hamstring activation you get.
Another way to help aid in the proper execution of the movements is to go slow on the execution of the movement. In our warm ups, many of the movements we perform are better performed at a slower speed, with control. You should be able to perform the movement under control, with proper technique, before adding in speed. This rings true especially with these unilateral movements. These unilateral movements can help in developing our stability, and when you try to go as fast as possible, you take this component out. Another thing you have to remember is that we are preparing our bodies to execute a variety of movements at a high intensity, with most of us coming from an inactive state. Whether you’re getting to the gym first thing in the morning after a night of sleep, or getting your workout in after a long day at the office, you’ve probably spent a good amount of time not moving around. Starting slow in your warm ups helps acclimate the body a lot better than trying to go full speed right off the bat. You would never hop off the couch after a Netflix binge and go right into a dead sprint. Same should go for anything we do inside the gym.
Below I’ve linked a short instagram clip from Squat University explaining the toe down cue. If you guys couldn’t tell, I love to use Instagram (especially Squat University) as a resource. There are a lot of knowledgeable people out there who put out good, easily digestible information that I think could benefit a lot of you. Definitely give this page a follow if you’re looking for some tips on how to imrpove your lifting (not just your squats). As always if you ever have questions about technique or execution of a movement, always ask a coach. You’re never too new, or too experienced to ask for help. Also be on the lookout for a video I will be putting together soon on single leg hinging progressions. This will be part of JB’s movement refocused, which you should definitely check out if you haven’t already!