Strength: noun. the ability to overcome.

The Most Underrated Exercise?

by GEOFFN on February 16

At a certain point, I’ve got to wonder when, if ever, I will get tired of “discovering” new (old?) tricks, tips, and methodologies for my programming.

Lately, I’ve been focusing on Get Up based exercises/movements and anything that helps that particular movement. I came up with a series of exercises last month that were literally because I was too weak, and too locked down in my hips to be able to do what I was supposed to. I have a feeling there are many other people out there in the same boat.

This particular exercise actually makes many of the other exercises in our arsenal that much better.

  • It makes the half-windmill portion of the Get Up easier by “opening” the posterior hip capsule
  • It makes the lunge in the Get Up easier for the same reason as above
  • It allows you to pack the shoulders on the Get Up and the Press easier
  • It promotes reflexive core stability – the ability of your body to fire your core to protect your spine under load without you having to resort to artificial strategies
  • It strengthens all the muscles of the leg, from the plantar flexors in the foot and its intrinsics, all the way to the hip, including the deep hip rotators and the gluteus medius
  • It teaches you how to “link” your shoulders to your hips, via the Lat(s), which is important for spinal stability and increasing pressing strength
  • It allows you to fully load the hips and hamstrings in exercises such as the Deadlift and Swing

What is it?

The Single Leg Deadlift – with contralateral loading.

Here’s a pretty good picture (Sorry Brett Jones fans, couldn’t find a pretty one of him).

And here’s how to perform it:

Pretty Good Contralaterally Loaded Single Leg Deadlift

  • Don’t wear shoes of any kind – barefoot only
  • Initiate the movement by hinging into the hip
  • “Push” the elevated leg toward the wall
  • Keep the chest up and out, with your chin like the guy in the pic
  • Keep the elevated leg from externally rotating and pull the toes toward the hip (active dorsiflexion)
  • Keep the non-working leg close to midline of the body
  • Make sure the Lat is connected to the hip – should feel it contracting the whole time
  • Push foot into the floor the whole time
  • Don’t activate the abs – they should activate reflexively
  • You’ve hit end range when you can no longer keep the lower back flat
  • Reverse the motion and squeeze off the glut to stand up, pushing the foot into the floor the whole time.

When To Use the SLDL?

Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it’s a great exercise to use if you have been screened with the FMS/CK-FMS to increase shoulder flexibility, to improve rotational stability, and to improve your Active Straight Leg Raise. Maybe. It also could be used just for a warm-up. It fires up the ol’ CNS pretty quickly. I am currently using it for reflexive core stability and hip mobility, and pattern work.

Tonight I did a whopping 12kg for a set of 13 each leg and a set of 15 each leg. (Hey, leave me alone with the high reps thing – it’s a corrective exercise…). I was actually able to work up to 24kg for 5,5 on Friday, but it didn’t feel nearly as good as tonight. But that’s ok, I believe it set the “tone” for tonight’s work. So did all the modified SLDL work that I’ve been doing over the past 4 weeks.

I haven’t used them, or really been able to them well, for the last 10 years. I did a variation of them pretty routinely from ’98 to ’01-ish, but not the more effective way that’s shown in this picture. I honestly don’t think I ever got into the hip capsule the way I am now.

So add these in your training program once or twice a week either before or after your main work (Not after a heavy ballistics or metabolic conditioning session.). Start with some low reps and add reps when you’re able to get the movement down. See if it makes a difference. You should feel more “put together.” You will also notice a difference in some other exercises too.

Drop a response and let me know what you notice. I look forward to hearing how you get on with these.

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