Mastering the Single-Leg Deadlift for Enhanced Cycling Performance


For cyclists, mastering the hinge movement is crucial since it’s a stance maintained throughout cycling. Enhancing this movement can significantly improve your cycling performance, and incorporating deadlifts into your exercise regimen, especially the single-leg version, can be a game changer.

The single-leg deadlift not only refines your hinge technique but also strengthens each side of your body independently, mirroring the action of cycling.

This exercise differs from the quad-focused squat by emphasizing hip movement. It requires pushing the hips backward, leaning the torso forward, and activating the glutes and hamstrings.

Regular deadlifts enhance glute and hamstring strength, alongside back and abdominal muscles. The single-leg variant elevates these benefits by introducing a stability component, engaging additional leg muscles and intensifying core work. It also puts your balance to the test.

The effectiveness of the single-leg deadlift hinges on proper execution. Below are steps to ensure you’re performing it accurately, including insights on incorporating it into your exercise routine and its benefits.

Executing the Single-Leg Deadlift with Precision

Kristine Zabala, a fitness expert based in Philadelphia with experience at Barry’s and Solidcore, shares her advice for performing the single-leg deadlift correctly, along with a demonstration for visual guidance.

Begin in a standing position with your feet set hip-width apart.

Shift your weight onto your right leg, pressing the right foot firmly into the ground while lightly tapping your left toes behind you.

Visualize your body forming a straight line from your head to your left toes.

Hinge at your hips, pushing your buttocks back while keeping your shoulders retracted.

Lift your left leg behind as you maintain a slight bend in your right knee.

Lower your body until you feel a stretch in your right hamstring or until your upper body is about parallel to the ground.

Then, push through your right foot to rise back up, straightening your hips.

Continue with repetitions before switching to the other side.

Avoiding Common Errors in the Single-Leg Deadlift for Optimal Results

The single-leg deadlift stands out as a complex exercise that demands prior proficiency in the conventional two-legged deadlift. To excel, remember these crucial form tips. Firstly, maintain a firm core throughout. A common mistake is bending at the waist instead of focusing on pushing the hips back and visualizing a straight line from head to toe, advises Kristine Zabala.

Proper posture is also vital, necessitating the shoulders to be drawn down and back, preventing the rounding of the upper back. Additionally, your gaze should be directed downwards and slightly forwards to avoid neck strain, Zabala suggests.

Ensuring both hips remain parallel to the floor is another key point, as allowing them (or the shoulders) to rotate or stack can engage the wrong muscles and potentially strain the lower back.

If you find yourself tipping forward or struggling with balance, there’s no need to force your torso to a parallel position with the floor. Instead, start with smaller movements and gradually increase the range as your strength and stability improve.

TheBenefits of Single-Leg Deadlift

The primary benefit of the single-leg deadlift lies in its ability to strengthen the posterior chain—the muscles along the backside of the body. Given that cycling predominantly works the quadriceps, it’s essential to counterbalance with exercises that target the glutes and hamstrings, such as the single-leg deadlift, Zabala emphasizes.

By fortifying the glutes and hamstrings, this exercise not only enhances pedal stroke power and efficiency but also contributes to faster and more robust cycling performance.

Furthermore, the single-leg deadlift’s inherent stability and core engagement challenges lead to improved balance and bike control.

Progressing with 4 Single-Leg Deadlift Variations

Mastering the two-legged deadlift is a prerequisite before advancing to its single-leg counterpart. Begin with supported versions and, when ready, introduce weights for an increased challenge.

Zabala suggests exploring four variations of the single-leg deadlift to integrate into your lower-body or comprehensive workouts. Choose the variation that best suits your fitness level, aiming for 5 to 10 repetitions across 2 to 4 sets. Incorporating the single-leg deadlift into your routine two to three times weekly can yield significant benefits.

1. Single-Leg Deadlift with Support

Begin with your feet set hip-width apart. Utilize a sturdy object like a tall foam roller, chair, table, or wall for support with your left hand. Shift your weight onto your right leg, firmly planting your right foot on the ground while your left toes tap lightly behind you. Ensure your body forms a straight line from head to toe as you hinge at the hips, sending them back while keeping your shoulders retracted. Allow your left leg to extend behind you, keeping a slight bend in your right knee. Lower yourself as much as you can while maintaining your balance. Push through your right foot to return to the starting position. Repeat the movement before switching to the opposite side.

2. Single-Leg Deadlift with a Glider

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, shifting your weight onto your right leg and placing your left toes on a glider. As you hinge at the hips, push the glider back, ensuring your body maintains a straight line from head to toe. Keep a minimal bend in your right knee. Lower yourself to a comfortable depth without compromising balance. Then, engage your right foot to rise, extending your hips. Perform repetitions before alternating sides.

3. Single-Leg Deadlift with Dumbbell

Position yourself with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in your left hand. Shift your weight to your right leg, lightly tapping your left toes behind you. As you hinge forward from the hips, aim to keep a straight line from your head down to your toes, allowing your left leg to lift behind. Lower the dumbbell towards the floor, stopping when you feel a stretch in your right hamstring or achieve a parallel position with the floor. Use your right leg to push back to the starting stance. Complete the set before switching the weight to the other hand and leg.

4. Single-Leg Deadlift with Double Dumbbells

Starting in the same initial position, hold a dumbbell in each hand this time. Focus on shifting your weight to your right leg, pressing down through the heel, and positioning your left toes lightly behind. As you hinge at the hips, remember to maintain a straight line from your head to your lifted leg, minimally bending the standing leg. Lower both weights towards the floor until you feel the stretch or reach a parallel stance. Drive through your standing leg to stand back up, extending your hips. Repeat before switching to the other side.

These variations introduce different levels of support and resistance, allowing you to progressively challenge your balance, strength, and stability in the single-leg deadlift. Incorporate these exercises into your routine for a well-rounded lower body workout, adjusting for 5 to 10 repetitions and 2 to 4 sets as suitable.


a 35-year-old web developer and cycling coach based in Boulder, Colorado. Over the past ten years, my passion for cycling has transformed from a casual hobby into a way of life. As a lover of all things cycling, I am thrilled to share my journey with others who share the same enthusiasm for this incredible sport.