If you follow any ladies who lift on Instagram, you know deadlifts are a must for building a perky booty (not to mention making you feel totally badass). But whether you should devote your gym time to the single-leg style or traditional Romanian variety can be tough to decipher.
A good rule of thumb: If you’re just getting into deadlifts, start on single leg, says Laura Miranda, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., an NYC-based physical therapist and trainer. “The research is mixed on which is better for building muscle, but some studies do show training on one leg versus two can lead to better movement proficiency and awareness, increased muscle mass, and improved performance,” she says.
That’s because the one-legged move demands more from the stabilizers in your hip, knee, and ankle, as well as from the muscles in that one leg.
That improved strength and balance translates into other workouts and everyday life. “Most sports, life activities, even running require us to proficiently move in all directions,” Miranda says. Plus, it will lay the strongest foundation for when you move into two-leg, Romanian deadlifts—a move notorious for causing injuries, when people try and pull more weight than their muscles, and form, can handle.
Once you build that base strength and stability from single-leg deadlifts, you’re ready to start incorporating Romanian deadlifts into your routine, Miranda says. But hit those single-legs again every once in a while. “At the end of the day, both the single-leg and Romanian deadlift are movement patterns where proper form and technique are crucial, so you should train both regularly,” she adds.
Here’s how to do both:
DUMBBELL ROMANIAN DEADLIFT
How to: Grab dumbbells with overhand grip, and hold them in front of your thighs with knees slightly bent. Bend at your hips until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Pause, then return to the starting position.
How to: Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and hold them at arm’s length in front of you. Keep your knees slightly bent and bend at your hips. Lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Your right leg should stay in line with your body. Return to the starting position.