It’s crunch time, but not those old–school boring crunches. It’s the time of year when you want your legs to look toned, your butt to be sitting up nice and high where it belongs, and it all needs to happen now. To get maximum results fast, we asked Pure Austin Personal Trainer Jackie Brumbalow to show us her one favorite leg sculpting exercise, a single-leg deadlift. The beauty of doing this as a single-leg exercise is that the addition of the balance and stabilization aspects increases the challenge and the number and types of muscle fibers recruited.
The glutes and hamstrings are the primary focus of this exercise, while the core and quads get some love too. It can be performed using body weight only, a dumbbell, or a kettle bell. The key to this exercise is to keep your body in a straight line the while kicking your foot back and lowering the shoulders, maintaining a tight upper body and core the whole time.
To start the exercise, lower to the floor leading with your chest, keeping your shoulder blades squeezed together and reach with your foot straight back. Then activate your glutes and hamstrings to bring your body back to a standing position. Keep your standing–leg knee slightly bent and pick a focus spot in front of your eyes to maintain balance. If your balance is good and you need to make it harder, do not put your foot back down on the floor between repetitions. Depending on the weight you choose (or choose not to use a weight), 10 to 20 reps on each leg, performed for two or three sets each, will leave you feeling toned the next day.
Add it to your routine consistently. Focus your effort on the glutes and hamstrings, and don’t clench your back. It’s important to maintain good posture in your upper body throughout the exercise, just as it is important throughout your entire day. Don’t feel self-conscious when first trying this exercise out—everyone has her own unique variation and there is no way that is going to be 100 percent correct. Start playing with it, and make it a consistent part of your workout. We promise it works.