- Glute Activation Drills
- Thoracic Mobility Drills
- Squatting Patterns
- Core Stabilization
- Single Leg Dead Lift Pattern
I believe these concepts should be addressed in virtually every training session unless there is some unique circumstance in which it would be a contraindiction.
As specific movements go, one that I incorporate everyday as either part of the warm-up or as a strength exercise is the Single Leg Dead Lift. Although the Single Leg Dead Lift or “SLDL” at first glance does not seem to fit in with the other drills and movements I believe it is just as important for the following reasons.
- Full Body Muscle Recruitment
When performed correctly the single leg dead lift pattern requires the recruitment of all of the muscles up the posterior chain. The gastrocnemius and soleus work to stabilize at the foot and ankle. The hamstring group is stretched at the same time it is working to stabilize the knee joint, while the glutes concentrically extend the hip. During all of this the lumbar extensors work to keep the spine neutral while the rhomboids and lower traps work to stabilize the scapula and keep the thoracic spine in extension.
- Functional Posterior Chain Strengthening
As I touched on briefly we are able to both stretch and strengthen the hamstring and recruit the glute for hip extension, this is true functional posterior chain training. Hamstring pulls are often a result of poor glute function and over-recruitment of hamstrings as hip extensor. If we are able to train single leg hip extension with the glutes while strengthening and stretching the hamstring than we are killing two birds with one stone.
- Balance and Proprioception
1) Straight Reaching Single Leg Dead Lift
This is the first progression that we use for the single leg dead lift at MBSC. The key here is to ask the athlete to reach their rear foot as far back as possible while also reaching their hands as far forward as possible. Be sure to cue the athlete to keep a slight bend at their knee so that they are not overstressing the hamstring and neglecting their glutes. The difference in glute function from a straight leg to a slightly bent leg will be significant.
Corrective Strategies for the SLDL
The two most common mistakes I see when people are performing the single leg dead lift are flexion of the thoracic and lumbar spine and poor extension of the rear leg.
When performing the SLDL the lumber and thoracic spine should be extended just as it would during a traditional dead lift. Far to often though I see them performed wrong where the trainee is bent over looking like quasimodo.
Although the sheer forces in the SLDL are not nearly equal to that of a traditional dead lift you do not want to put your spine in such a precarious position. What do we really gain by flexing our thoracic spine? Additional benefits can be gained in the form of scapular stability and upper back strength when you retract the should blades and extend the thoracic spine.
Contrary to what many may think the rear leg that is raised during the SLDL is not inactive. You should be firing the glute of the up leg and be actively trying to reach you foot towards the wall behind you. The rear leg should be internally rotated and your toes should be pointed down towards the ground. The correct position should have the trainees pelvis square to the floor. Often you will see people simply leave their rear-leg bent and let their femur externlly rotate, this is incorrect.
To correct these problems here are a couple tricks I use to get clients to properly use their glutes and stay square to the floor.
- Cross-Reaching Single Leg Dead Lift
The cross reaching variation forces the the client to stretch and recruit their glutes as well as square up their hips to the floor. I find that when I do this the trainee often also feels much more balanced and strong due to increased glute function.
To do this place the client just adjacent to an object (I use the bar from a squat rack) and have them reach across their body to try to touch it. I incorporate the band into the second variation in order to force the trainee to extend their rear leg.
- Banded Cross-Reaching Single Leg Dead Lift
Once the bodyweight only reaching variation of the SLDL is mastered I would the progress to loading the SLDL in the following order.
2). Unilateral Loaded Single Dead Lift
It is best to start loading the SLDL in a unilateral fashion using dumb bells or kettlebells. You should hold the weight on the opposite side of the leg that is being trained. So if you are standing on your right leg hold the weight in your left hand. Doing this creates more tension on the glute and trains the bodiess diagonal fascial lines most effectively.
3). Bilateral Loaded Single Leg Dead Lift
Once you have gotten to the point where the load is to great to hold in one hand I would progress to holding two dumb bells or kettlebells in order to increase intensity.
4). Barbell Single Leg Dead Lift
The final progression I would recommend is the barbell loaded SLDL. If you are performing your single leg dead lifts correctly and have exhausted the dumb bell rack then your are exhibiting some pretty impressive glute and hamstring strength. Hoorayy for you!!!!
Please drop some knowledge in the comments section below!!!!
Here are some blogs I liked from this week