How to Do the Single-Leg RDL

Test out your stability and overall body control by incorporating this RDL exercise into your next strength training workout.

July 25, 2019

Stability is important for any athlete. The single-leg Romanian deadlift (RDL) can be a great tool to help improve stability as well as overall body control.


The single-leg RDL is a hip-dominant exercise that can strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. Because you’re balancing on one leg at a time, the emphasis of this exercise is on stability.


“The single-leg RDL enhances lower-body stability, which helps to optimize performance and body control,” professional baseball strength and conditioning coach Jorge Canepa says.


To complete the single-leg RDL, be sure to have a medicine ball or dumbbell ready.




Begin this exercise by balancing on one leg. The leg that is in contact with the ground should be straight. Meanwhile, your other leg should be lifted off the ground, with a bend in the knee.


Once you’re content with your balance:

  • Get into a position incorporating soft knees and soft hips. This means relaxing these joints as you stand comfortably.
  • Extend both arms out as you reach forward. At the same time, drive your hips back. Your chest should be facing toward the ground and your elevated leg should be straightened out, extending back.
  • Your body should be in a straight line.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Once your repetition is done, drive your knee and hips forward. Return to a standing position with both feet touching the ground and your arms at your sides.

When returning to your starting position, don’t rush the movement. Drive your hips forward in a slow, but controlled manner.



It’s time to add some weight to this workout. Once you have a medicine ball and are comfortable:

  • Create soft knees and soft hips.
  • Your hands should be on both sides of the medicine ball, not underneath or on top.
  • Reach out holding the medicine ball with both hands while driving your hips back. “As you reach out with the medicine ball and balance on one leg, your hips will naturally drive back,” Canepa says.
  • Keep your body relatively straight with your chest facing the ground.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Drive your hips forward to return to your starting position.



Adding a dumbbell to your single-leg RDL workout increases resistance and helps train balancing skills. For this exercise, you’ll use one dumbbell instead of two. Instead of dropping the dumbbell to the ground, you need to have good balance to hold it upright.


“You want to make sure to balance on the opposite leg in which you are holding the dumbbell,” Canepa says. “Instead of reaching out forward, you want to lower the dumbbell toward the ground as you drive your hip and leg back.”


Begin by standing on one leg. If you're holding the dumbbell with your right hand, your left leg will be in contact with the ground. Once you're comfortable with your balance:


  • Create soft knees and soft hips.
  • Reach down with the dumbbell toward the floor. The dumbbell should lower to below the knee.
  • Keep your other arm at your side.
  • Your chest should be facing the ground.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Drive your hips forward to return to the starting position.


The dumbbell should not hit the ground during this exercise. That’s why it’s important to choose a weight you’re comfortable with holding for the allotted time.


Whether you’re adding weight for resistance or training your balance with no equipment, the single-leg RDL is a great technique to add to your next workout.


Now that you know how to do the single-leg RDL, check out these Pro Tips on how to do a regular Romanian deadlift.