One Leg at a Time… The SLDL for Hip, Ankle and Core Strength and Stability

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)

Here at RPP we train a number of hockey players in the off-season looking to get bigger, faster and stronger. With life being as hectic as it is we need to pack a ton in a single hour of training, so we sometimes look for exercises in our programming that train more than one body part or movement quality at a time, without sacrificing a great training effect.  We call them our “big bang for the buck” exercises.

Today we’re going to look at the SLDL (single leg deadlift). They’re a single leg exercise that targets the glutes and hamstrings (posterior chain), as well as working on core stability, upper back strength, and ankle stability (balance). This can go a long way to help strengthen the skating stride of a hockey player.

With respect to the hips, it isn’t as simple as “weak or strong”, it’s also about stability. Athletes could have a good amount of laxity (loose joints), which in turn can give them a very unstable set of hips. Strength training takes the stress off of the ligaments, menisci and labrum that are trying to prevent the femur (leg) from moving too much in the acetabulum (socket) and “cement good stable movement patterns”.

One Leg at a Time SLDL - 2

First, let’s look at this king of the s. leg movements. Take it away Rick….


Now let’s go over a few quick cues to get things to come together harmoniously.


  • Keep a “soft knee.”  It shouldn’t be locked or stiff.  Ideally, you want about 15-20 degrees of knee flexion.
  • Grip the DB tightly. This will activate scap (shoulder) recruitment helping to prevent unwanted rounding of the shoulders.
  • Think “hips back” until the DB reaches roughly mid-shin level.  At that point, you should feel the brunt of your weight shift back into your supporting leg’s heel and you should get a nice burn in the glute and hamstrings.
  • Make sure to maintain a straight line from the head-to-toe throughout.
  • Come back up explosively by digging in with the standing leg’s heel.


  • Round the back and shoulders.
  • Lower the DB too low (many trainees make the mistake of trying to touch the DB all the way to the floor by reaching with their arm)… if you have to limit the ROM due to poor stability at first so be it.

Don’t get discouraged. The SLDL can be a very complex move.  But as you get more proficient, you’ll undoubtedly be able to increase your ROM and reap the rewards of this great exercise.

See ya’ in the gym.