Which Hand Holds the Weight in a Single-Leg Deadlift? (Explained!)

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Last updated on November 15th, 2022 at 04:23 pm

Have you ever wondered which hand holds the weight in a single-leg deadlift?

We all know that deadlifts are a fantastic exercise and there are so many variations to choose from.

The single-leg deadlift is ideal to develop single-leg strength.

Single-leg deadlifts help to build explosive strength.

This is great for anyone who participates in a sport that requires jumping, sprinting, and changing directions.

Plus, single-leg deadlifts will also give you a great looking butt.

But, which hand are you supposed to hold the weight in?

Which Hand Holds Weight in Single-Leg Deadlift?

You should hold the weight in the opposite hand to the leg that is planted to the floor during single-leg deadlifts. This ensures that your hips and shoulders stay square to the ground. Additionally, by holding the weight in the opposite hand you will have better balance throughout the movement, which allows for better technique.

The Opposite-Side Hand Allows For Better Hip Placement

So, the answer is clearly that you should hold the weight in the opposite hand when performing single-leg deadlifts.

A Man Doing a Kettlebell Single-Leg Deadlift

That being said, you can of course complete the movement with two dumbbells or kettlebells, a barbell, a sandbag, and just about anything else that requires both hands.

However, for me, I have always preferred to complete single-leg deadlifts with just one hand holding onto a weight.

There are many advantages to having the weight in the opposite hand to the leg that is planted to the floor.

But, above all else I believe it leads to much better form.

When you hold the weight in the same hand there is a tendency for the hips and shoulders to open up.

So, for example if your right leg is the stationary leg and you hold the weight in your right hand, you will typically open up your body to the left.

Your hips and shoulders will literally turn to the left-side and your gaze will typically follow.

This pretty much defeats the object of the hip-hinge and this will not activate the glutes as well.

However, by holding the weight in the opposite hand you’ll maintain a far more conventional deadlift technique.

You can push your hips and glutes back, your shoulders remain facing forwards, and there is no unnatural twisting of the body.

You can see exactly what I mean in the video below.

Better Balance Means Less Stress on the Lower Back

When you hold the weight in the same hand during single-leg deadlifts it’s far more difficult to balance.

A Woman Doing a Bodyweight Single-Leg Deadlift

You’ll notice this in the video above.

Emily was literally swaying uncontrollably.

Unfortunately, this actually takes all the focus away from the target muscles.

Single-leg deadlifts are a great strength exercise for both the hamstrings and glutes.

However, this is only true if they are performed in a controlled manner and with good form.

You’ll immediately gain better balance by holding the weight in the opposite hand to the leg which remains on the floor.

And better balance will mean that your technique is more likely to be on point.

Something that many people tend to do when performing deadlifts of any nature is to allow the back to round.

This typically put far more stress on the back, especially the lower spine.

And quite clearly this is not something that you want when performing any exercise.

I feel that holding the weight in the opposite hand allows you to really concentrate on pushing your hips and glutes back.

This also means you are less likely to allow the back to round or hunch over.

For me, this will activate and work the hamstrings and glutes to far greater effect, while also protecting you lower back.

Better Balance Allows For a More Explosive Hip-Hinge

There’s something quite wonderful about that explosive forward snap of the hips.

I love performing various exercises that really allow you to get that snap in.

I’m talking about kettlebell swings, power cleans, snatches, etc.

That explosive hip-hinge movement is what power exercises are all about.

And although conventional deadlifts are typically viewed as far more of a strength exercise than power, there is still a “snap of the hips” involved.

However, there are definitely deadlift variations which allow for more of an explosive hip-hinge.

The single-leg deadlift is definitely one of these explosive variations.

That being said, if you choose to hold the weight in the same hand as the leg planted to the floor, we know that balance becomes an issue.

And unfortunately with a lack of balance, the explosiveness in the hip-hinge is pretty much lost.

So, the “opposite hand-holding” definitely wins for me again when it comes to building explosive power and strength.

Over 50 Single-Leg Deadlift Variations

Final Thoughts

So, when it comes to single-leg deadlifts you should always hold the weight in the opposite hand to the leg that remains on the floor.

This simply leads to better technique and allows for greater balance.

All-in-all, this means that you’ll get much more out of the movement.

Single-leg deadlifts are absolutely fantastic for building hamstring and glute strength.

Plus, they will help to improve certain explosive movements, such as sprinting and jumping.

And I’m sure many of you will agree that it’s great to have an aesthetically-pleasing set of glutes.

While I’m on the subject of lower-body training, here’s what i have to say about performing Bulgarian split squats with just one dumbbell.

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