How to use the single leg press to improve your deadlift

A very common problem that people encounter with the deadlift is that they use their back too much. They concentrate on pulling the bar rather than pressing and extending the hips. Using the hips, legs, and back in equal measure is the key to progressing in this lift and making great gains.

Single leg pressUsing the full back squat can be an effective way of remedying this, but once again a limiting factor in the squat is back and core strength. In no way am I saying don’t squat, instead I’m going to suggest that you isolate the legs and hips in order to fix this specific problem in the deadlift, by using the single leg press.

The single leg press is really easy and can be done using a machine or a sled, whichever you choose doesn’t really matter. Simply climb into a leg press machine, and leg press with one leg rather than two. The main reason I like this lift is that it builds unilateral strength in each of your legs, while using your hips to a greater extent than the ordinary leg press. The key is using the single leg press to closely simulate the leg and hip positioning during the deadlift.

The first time you do the single leg press, and thrust out of a 90-degree thigh-to-knee angle, you’ll feel the burn in your glutes and hamstrings, rather than just in your quads in an ordinary leg press. Doing that movement for 2-3 sets of five reps a couple of times a week for at least three months will pay dividends to your deadlift.

To be fair, the ordinary leg press could also be used just as well to isolate the legs in a movement simulating the deadlift. The only potential problem with it is that it trains the quadriceps too much over the muscles controlling hip extension. With nearly all athletic performance, hip extension is more important than knee extension. Having massive quads will weigh you down without adding much to your sporting performance.

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