This is such a big-bang-for-your-buck movement. It’s a single-leg balance plus a hip hinge, and it builds deep strength in your back, hips, glutes and hamstrings. Named after a Romanian lifter in the early ’90s, it has become a mainstay in power and sports training.

For beginners

One of the great things about this drill is you can back off the difficulty and build up your skill slowly. That said, if you have a history of back problems or injuries, this move still might not be for you. Check with your physician or physical therapist for clearance before you try it out.

Best practices

  • Keep a soft knee bend in your standing leg to prevent injury to your lower back. This is important for safety. Do not lock out your knee!
  • Make sure your back stays flat and long.
  • Try to keep your hips parallel to the ground.

Master This: Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in one hand or no weight at all.
  2. Shift your weight so you’re standing on one leg (the same side holding the dumbbell).
  3. Start moving by hinging forward at your hips as your free leg extends out behind you.
  4. Lower the dumbbell to the height of your knee or slightly below, then return to the starting position.

Make it easier: Try it with no weight at all. If you can’t balance for the whole movement yet, try doing it in a split stance, with your back toe on the ground for stability.

Make it harder (pictured): Hold the dumbbell in your opposite hand and stand on your other leg.

Photo credit: Tom Casey,
Model: Nick Routson, 24 Hour Fitness