Exercises You Should Be Doing: DB Reverse Lunge to 1-Legged RDL

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This is an exercise that’s been in my programming repertoire for a while now, and every time I place it into someone’s program, I either get one raised eye brow of intrigue or a chuckle; as if to say, “dude, really?  This?  Come on….I need something more challenging.”

Then, of course, those who fall into the latter category wake up the next morning and realize their hamstrings feel like they were put through a meat grinder.

*strokes evil strength coach beard*

Muhahahahahahahaha.  I win.

Anyways, getting right to the point, there are quite few inherent benefits to this exercise.

1.  It’s a single leg movement.  People need to do more single leg work. Nuff said.

2. Thing is, single leg work can be about as exciting as watching Gossip Girl. More to the point, it’s a hybrid single leg movement, combining both the reverse lunge and the 1-legged Romanian deadlift, so I’ve found it’s a nice change of pace, and a bit more palatable for most trainees.

Note:  I will say, though, that this is a more advanced variation so I’d be reticent to encourage newbies to throw this into the mix right off the bat.

3.  With regards to the reverse lunge component, it’s more knee friendly compared to forward lunge variations.  With forward lunge variations you have to decelerate the body, which can be problematic for those with a history of knee pain.  Conversely, with the reverse lunge, it’s more accelerative (I think I just made a word up) in nature, and thus less stressful on the knee joint in general.

4. On the flip side, with respects to the 1-legged Romanian deadlift component, I just like it because it trains the lateral sub-system, and it really forces the trainee to focus on his or her hip stabilizers.

5.  Maybe a little less obvious, but nevertheless an important point to consider, is that this exercise – being hybrid in nature – kicks your ass! It’s not uncommon for peeps who perform this exercise for the first time to be fairly winded by the end of their set.

So, what does this bad boy look like?

Key Coaching Cues:  First and foremost, don’t be a hero.  You won’t need a ton of weight with this particular exercise, and given most people butcher the 1-Legged RDLanyways, I’d be more inclined to start conservative with the weight selection.

Secondly, while the reverse lunge part is pretty self explanatory, the 1-legged RDL is a different animal altogether. That said, I’d HIGHLY encourage you to click HERE to get a little more insight on how to be less sucky at it.

I generally keep the reps in the lowish range and shoot for 5-6 per leg, which is really 10-12 reps per leg because you’re doing two exercises in one.

AC/DC in the background is optional.

Try it out today, and let me know what you think

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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  • Jim Benson

    Love this hybrid exercise Tony! While I really enjoy all of your posts, “Exercises that you should be doing” is probably my favorite of the topics that you write about. Thanks man!

  • Kelsey

    Ha, you programmed that for me when we came up there (though in reverse order) and that has managed to find it’s way into many SAPT athletes’ programs…

  • Gaurav Kapil

    Great Hybrid. I’ll overdo this one. Just a question: While doing 1 leg DL my pelvis doesn’t get completely squared. Is it acceptable form?

  • Lauren L

    What Gaurav said. I feel like there’s a gray area with respect to pelvis positioning during the sl rdl. I’m never sure if I should keep bugging my clients to get it more level, or allow a little bit of lateral tilt. My instinct tells me that a perfectly level pelvis isn’t realistic since we’re working on one leg (yours tilts a little in the vid) but one butt cheek stacked on top of the other isn’t good either. Anyway would love your thoughts.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, mine tilts ever so slightly…….thanks for pointing out my faults……;o) Juuuuuust kidding. There’s definitely a “standard” to shoot for here. If your clients are tilting significantly, my first inclination would be that it’s too advanced for them. Remember, YOU’RE the coach……..if it looks funky, fix it.

  • MaxiG

    This is brutal.

    • Anonymous

      HA! I did my job.

  • Domenic

    I like this one.  It emphasizes the posterior chain aspect of the reverse lunge more, its like you just grooved that pattern so your body tries extra hard to use glute and hamstring during reverse lunge as well.  Nice stuff.  I saw Cressington the third doing his on youtube in my wanderings around youtube this week.

  • AndrewM

    I’ve done this one before…it works.  If you’ve never felt your hamstrings before, you will now.

  • Barath

    Tony = Pai Mei!!!!

  • RS


    These bring back “fond” memories: EC programmed them for me in 2010. That was the day I discovered how you must feel every day in the gym–All eyes were on me 🙂

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  • Ian

    I like to do these for time with just BW. Both my knees have had trouble before and these are great for stability firstly and also not having the jolt of regular or walking lunges.

  • Quite possibly the best exercise ever for runners. Good stuff. New site looks good, BTW!

  •  Great! I’ve been doing the 1 Legged RDL but I haven’t tried it together with a reverse lunge! I am definitely going toimplement this in my workout! 🙂