The Single-Leg RDL teaches you to stabilize and control your body effectively and increases your rate of force production, which means you will be a more explosive athlete. However, many people do not effectively load it properly for optimum results. To perform any unilateral exercise effectively, you must learn and practice stabilizing your core, hips, knees, ankles and feet, all of which will confer huge benefits to your performance on the field.
Standard Single-Leg RDLs help eliminate strength imbalances and energy leaks by encouraging lower body stability, protecting the knees from injury, recruiting the glutes and promoting strong hamstrings.
Although light variations of single-leg work are ideal and encouraged by many professionals, you can and should get heavy once you master the technique and get stronger. Perform heavy Single-Leg RDLs to challenge your strength, balance and coordination.
The targets are the glute on your working leg and your hamstring group, but the exercise also improves motor control and balance of the planted leg, which should theoretically allow for more explosive movements off a single leg.
Here are two of my favorite variations, which I’ve found particularly effective. Watch them demonstrated in the video above.
1. Single-Leg Kettlebell RDL (Banded)
Set up the same as a standard Single-Leg RDL. Place a light band under your foot and wrap it through the kettlebell. Grip the kettlebell and perform the movement like you would a standard Single-Leg RDL.
2. Single-Leg Landmine RDL (Banded)
Set up the same as a regular Landmine Single-Leg RDL. As shown in the video, place the band around the sleeve of the bar and the bottom of your foot. Grip the landmine sleeve on the same side as the loaded foot and perform the movement.
One quick tip with these exercises, as recommended by researcher Bret Contreras: Try hard to keep your non-working leg straight.