Spoiler: They’re not that easy.
Another day, another video of Kate Upton proving that she’s an absolute beast in the gym. The model’s trainer, Ben Bruno, recently took to Instagram to post a clip of her doing 80-pound single-leg Romanian deadlifts (RDL) during an intense home workout.
“This is nuts,” Bruno wrote alongside the post. “Kate Upton crushed these single-leg RDLs with 80 pounds on the bar. That’s not a typo.”
Upton might make the lower-body workout look “easy,” but make no mistake: she and Bruno trained a lot to help her deadlift this much weight, he explained in his post. “She trains six days a week and brings her best effort every day,” wrote Bruno. “We follow simple progressive overload, and every time I give her the option to keep the weight the same or go up, she wants to go up. Do that consistently for a few years and you end up really, really strong.”
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This is nuts. @kateupton crushed these single leg RDLs with 80 pounds on the bar. That’s not a typo. This is more weight than most men do, and she makes it look easy. I showed this video to our mutual friend yesterday and he goes, “how the hell has she gotten so strong?”. My answer: “it’s pretty simple, but it ain’t easy. She trains six days a week and brings her best effort every day. We follow simple progressive overload, and every time I give her the option to keep the weight the same or go up, she wants to go up. Do that consistently for a few years and you end up really, really strong”. I love Kate’s attitude toward training and it’s really cool to see her progression over the years. PS- she’s gonna be so sore from this I think…
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ICYDK, a Romanian deadlift, similar to a conventional deadlift, is a functional exercise that helps strengthen both your posterior chain (read: your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings) and your core. A single-leg RDL, however, is when you perform an RDL while balancing on just one leg.
As for the benefits of single-leg RDLs, the unilateral movement not only challenges your balance, it also isolates and builds glute and hamstring strength, explains Beau Burgau, C.S.C.S., a certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder of GRIT Training Maine. Plus, since single-leg RDLs require full-body control, they really work the stabiliser muscles in your core, he adds. “Essentially, the move improves unilateral balance, coordination, and stability,” he says. “As an added bonus, it’s great for ankle stability and strength, too.”
(Also read: 7 Standing Yoga Poses That Will Improve Your Balance)
If you’ve never tried the exercise, Burgau recommends starting with regular Romanian deadlifts (e.g. with both feet planted on the ground) before trying the single-leg version. To recap: The difference between a conventional deadlift and an RDL is that, during RDLs, your hips don’t go as far down and you don’t bend your knees quite as much, meaning you’re letting your hamstrings do more of the work. Once you’ve mastered this movement, you can give single-leg RDLs a try, starting with an assisted bodyweight version of the movement, suggests Burgau.
How to Do Assisted Bodyweight Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
A. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Shift weight onto the right leg, left foot slightly behind, balancing on toes. Grab onto a rig, rack, or chair with the right hand.
B. Actively press the right leg into the ground and shoot the left leg back while hinging forward at the hips, lowering torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Be sure to keep hips square.
C. Keeping a tight core and flat back, simultaneously pull the left leg down to meet the right to return to standing, squeezing standing leg glute at the top.
Burgau suggests starting with 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps on each side. Once you feel comfortable with the assisted bodyweight version, try single-leg RDLs unassisted, using just your bodyweight, suggests Burgau. To progress beyond that, try adding weight with a dumbbell, kettlebell, or a barbell (like Upton), and get comfortable doing the weighted movement assisted before going unassisted, says Burgau. “Understand the movement, and work on stabilising yourself and improving your balance,” he explains.
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Turning this time at home into an opportunity to better myself mentally and physically. I’m so glad @benbrunotraining and I created @strong4mefit so I have plenty of at-home workouts on deck! With minimal equipment, #Strong4Me gives me quick & efficient daily workouts without having to leave the house. 🙌🏻 Today at 2pm EST/11am PST @kaitlinelise_ will be hosting a FREE at-home workout on @strong4mefit IG LIVE! Grab your quarantine workout buddy & see you there! 💪🏻
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To get the most out of this exercise, form is key, adds the trainer. Your spine should be neutral and your back needs to remain flat so that you’re creating a straight line from your neck down to the heel of the leg that’s kicked back, explains Burgau. “You do this by hinging at the hips with a slight knee bend in the planted leg,” he notes. “Ground your foot so you have your stability, and engage your core.”
(Also read: 7 Best Yoga Moves To Strengthen Your Core)
Syncing your movement with your breath is important in helping you maintain control as well, says Burgau. He recommends inhaling as you hinge at the hips and lower your torso and exhaling as you engage your glutes to lift yourself back up.
Another tip: Keep your shoulders back throughout the entire movement, says Burgau. “Imagine you’re pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades,” he explains. If your shoulders round forward and your back is no longer flat, you’ll put a lot of strain on your lower back, which can lead to injury, he notes.
“Control is important, so don’t rush these,” says Burgau. ” Really engage your glutes and core, not your back, to lift you.”
(Also read: Can You Build Muscle With Only Bodyweight Exercises?)
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