What if you could get strength, balance, cardio, and stability work from just one single exercise? Well, it’s possible, and Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin) is here to prove it.
In an Instagram video recently posted by Kirk Meyers, CEO, founder, and owner of celeb-favorite gym Dogpound in NYC, Bieber and fellow model Camila Morrone demo an impressive compound move—a single-leg balance to a single-leg deadlift to a weighted walking lunge combo—that delivers all of those benefits…and then some.
You can check out the video via @kirkmeyersfitness here:
As mentioned, this move offers tons of benefits, from lower-half strengthening and stability work, to core activation, single-leg balance, and low-impact cardio.
The reason this move offers so many benefits is because it’s essentially four different moves combined into one: a single-leg balance exercise, a single-leg deadlift, a forward lunge, and a stationary lunge with a weighted component.
“Every major muscle in your leg gets used when you put [these moves] together,” Maryam Zadeh, certified personal trainer and founder of Brooklyn-based HIIT BOX, tells SELF. Because of the complexity involved, it’s “above intermediate” level, she says.
On the strengthening front, the major drivers are your glutes, quads, and hamstrings, Meyers tells SELF via email. “It challenges your balance as well, which forces you to activate (and will strengthen) your core,” he adds. On top of that, it’s good low-impact cardio. “It also gets your heart rate up, so it’s good for working up a sweat,” says Meyers.
To break it down component by component, the single-leg deadlift portion works your legs, glutes, and core. As you extend your leg behind you in the deadlift, you’ll work the glute and hamstring of the leg that’s extended as well as the quad and glute of the stationary leg, Stephanie Mansour, Chicago-based certified personal trainer, tells SELF.
The fact that the deadlift is performed with the strength of just one leg (versus two, as you would with a regular deadlift) adds the stability, balance, and cardio challenge that Meyers mentions. “This is hard,” Zadeh says.
Then, the single-leg balance portion works your hip flexors, calves, and the stabilizing muscles and tendons around your ankles and knees, says Mansour.
From there, the forward lunge engages your quads, core, and glutes, and the stationary lunge with the weighted element engages your obliques (the muscles on the sides of your stomach), Zadeh says. This weighted element, which requires you to essentially weave a dumbbell or kettlebell through your legs, also reinforces good form on your lunges, adds Mansour. “If you were to lean too far forward into your lunge, you would not be able to thread the weight,” she explains, “and if you don’t step far enough forward, your knees would be crammed and wouldn’t have enough space to thread the weight.”
Because this multi-part move is so complex, you should be able to do each component separately before you put them together.
Good form—not speed—is key with this move, and before attempting it, you should be able to do at least 10 reps of each component—single-leg deadlifts, forward lunges, stationary lunges with a weighted thread, and single-leg balances—separately and confidently, says Zadeh.
The most challenging part is the single-leg stability and balance required on the deadlifting portion, she adds. If you struggle with that, regress to a two-legged deadlift. If you’re struggling with the single-leg balance component, reduce the height to which you lift your knee, adds Mansour.
Here’s how to try the four-part combo move.
You’ll need a moderately weighted dumbbell or kettlebell for this sequence. Zadeh recommends a kettlebell as it is slightly easier to grip throughout the movements this exercise requires. She also suggests tweaking the placement of the weight from what’s demoed in the video to make it easier to maintain correct form—her input is included in the following instructions.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, shoulders back, chest up, and core engaged. Hold your weight firmly with both hands at chest height. If you’re using a dumbbell, hold it parallel to the ground with one hand gripping each end.
- Pressing down through the heel of your left foot and squeezing your left glute, lift your right leg off the ground, bend your knee, and drive it up toward your chest.
- From here, lower your right leg down and then, without letting it touch the ground, extend it behind you as you hinge forward at your hips. Bend forward to lower the weight down toward the floor. Keep your weight in the heel of your left foot, and keep your back straight (not arched or rounded), your eyes up, and engage your hamstrings, glutes, and core.
- Keep lowering your torso until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
- Pause for a moment here and then lift yourself back up, driving your right leg up toward your chest into another single-leg balance.
- From the top of the single-leg balance, step forward with your right foot about two feet and bend both knees to lower yourself down into a lunge. Hold the weight firmly with both hands under your chin, keeping your elbows tight against your body, your shoulders loose, and your abs engaged.
- Pause at the bottom of the lunge and transfer the weight to your left hand. Weave the weight around your right leg, starting from the inside of your right leg, and transferring the weight to your right hand as you bring it up and over your leg.
- Once you’ve completed the weight weave, grip the weight firmly with both hands again and press through both heels to push yourself up, lifting your left foot off the ground as you do so to perform a single-leg balance with your left leg.
- From here, repeat the sequence again, this time with your left leg leading.
- Continue repeating the four-part sequence, alternating which leg leads, for 1 minute. Then, rest for 30 seconds.
- Complete the sequence two more times through, resting 30 seconds between each round, suggests Zadeh.
Make sure your feet remain slightly outside your hips throughout this move, says Zadeh. If they are too narrow, you’ll incorrectly engage your back; too wide, and you’ll hit your hips. Also, as you step forward into the lunge, keep your weight in the center of your body and stay slow and controlled, says Mansour. “You don’t want to be crashing forward.”
You can practice this exercise as a standalone move or incorporate it into a larger sequence. For a larger sequence, Zadeh recommends starting with one minute on the rowing machine or a minute of jumping jacks for more cardio, then doing one minute of battle ropes or bicep curls for upper-body work; and then doing Bieber’s move for one minute. Complete the circuit three times through for a quick and effective total-body workout.
Whether you attempt Bieber’s move as part of a larger circuit or by itself, take your time with it and stay focused, says Zadeh. “Because there are so many moving parts, you have to use your brain,” she explains. On top of, you know, practically your entire body.