I’m not perfect.
In fact, far, far from it.
First and foremost, I have an obsession with Lord of the Rings. I’ve watched all of the extended DVDs, gotten Tolkien quotes tattooed on my ribs, and bought a replica of the Ring of Power. Oh, and I’d argue I almost used a pick-up line in Elvish. Once.
So yeah, I’m not perfect.
Quirkiness aside, I pride myself in being near perfect in my career as a coach. I say near perfect because, well, perfectionism is a trap and robots don’t run the world…yet.
When it comes to coaching movements, I’m a stickler for close-to-perfect form. Especially with the single leg deadlift, I find myself cringing when I see people fuck it up. Even the slightest bit. And oftentimes, I’ll see people do something like this:
Before I dive into the drills and cues I use to polish the SLRDL, let’s take a look at common mistakes:
– Rushing the movement.
– Externally rotating of the hips.
– Showing piss poor posture and rounding of the back.
– Lacking balance and instability on the working leg.
– Misunderstanding the hip hinge pattern.
Any new client or athlete is bound to make one of these mistakes, and it’s your job as a coach to avoid these.
But first, let’s take a look at what a proper SLRDL looks like:
Why is this correct?
Well, besides rocking the high socks and wind-blown hair, I’m initiating the movement with my hips, not rushing, and getting juuuuuuuust enough depth to feel a nice stretch in the hamstrings.
So, rushing. Let’s polish this one first.
There are plethora of reasons athletes and clients go too fast: lacking confidence in their eccentric control (downward phase), going too heavy with the load which causes them to drop too quickly, or wanting to get it over with so they can go on a froyo date with their baes.
If it’s a load issue, then you have to get tough love-y with your athletes and clients. Lifting heavy is great when done under control, but sometimes the ego has to go.
The SLDL is not a maximal strength-1RM-let’s-go-balls-to-the-wall movement. It’s for single leg balance, stability, and strength.
I like to tell my athletes, “put the ego aside and you’ll put the injuries aside too.”
I would also go as far as to have them warm-up with a couple sets of these rack hinges if they’re reallyyyyyyy butchering the movement:
A few verbal cues for this one:
“Shift weight in the heel”
“Push butt away from the rack”
“Drop it like it’s hot”
This drill is great for gaining confidence, balance, but also levering yourself to comfortably sit back and initiate the movement with the hips. Using your arms as a lever also avoids any back rounding.
A handful of quick external cues I like to use:
“Project your chest forward like you’re superman”
“Pretend their are lasers beaming straight out of your chest”
And sometimes, tactile cueing must happen because auditory isn’t enough. I like to put my pointer finger in between their shoulder blades and tell them to “squeeze my finger.” This way, the shoulders stayed packed down, posture stays intact, and the back is not rounding.
Here is a drill as well:
I like to place a cone or a box in front so they can play with depth and avoid “see-saw-ing” down into the hunchback of Notre Dame.
And if you really want to reinforce posture once you get past the box drill, try paused SLRDLS:
This way, you can “hang out” in the most vulnerable position. Hell, stay here until you’re done singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall.
So, what about the hip hinge?
More often than not, a newbie to the SLRDL will bend the knee too soon, making it look like a shitty single leg squat. And that’s when the soundtrack to the Psycho shower seen cues in my head.
A shitty hip hinge is worse than screeching violins, no doubt.
For beginners, this is a great drill to “groove” into what a hip hinge should feel like:
Cue sitting the butt back to the heel and keeping the chest proud.
And finally, this drill is the icing on the cake to reinforce everything about the SLRDL. I stole is from strength coach Tony Gentilcore:
And that just about wraps it up.