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Lucy Hale Legs

How Lucy Hale’s Two-Part Lower-Body Move Can Strengthen Your Butt, Legs, and Core

Lucy Hale

When it comes to the ‘gram, Lucy Hale is typically all about the glam. From red carpet pics to magazine portraits to selfies, the 28-year-old Pretty Little Liars actor regularly shares content that is both flawless and fierce. But earlier this week, the star of the new CW show Life Sentence offered her followers a rare glimpse into a more relatable part of her world: her workouts.

In a series of Instagram Stories on Wednesday, Hale chronicled her gym session with trainer Adam Nicklas, showing an array of moves—including commandos, Bulgarian split squats, and push-up variations—that prove this strong actor is also a strong athlete. (Nicklas also shared the workout via a video on his Instagram account, @adam_nicklas.)

One move in particular—weighted reverse lunges to single-leg Romanian deadlifts—is especially legit.

“The percentage of the population that could actually do this move correctly is very low,” Mike Clancy, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SELF. That’s because it requires strength in many different muscle groups as well as total-body coordination and balance.

See the move for yourself in the following video via @adam_nicklas. It’s the second move in the sequence:

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This two-part move works both the front and back sides of your lower body.

The lunging portion of this move, which is essentially a one-legged squat, works your glutes and hamstrings as well as many anterior muscles (the muscles on the front side of your body), Mark DiSalvo, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SELF. These anterior muscles, including the quads and hips, are the primary movers while the muscles on the backside of your body isometrically contract to form a stable base.

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The deadlifting portion of this move works in the opposite way, DiSalvo explains. It involves a hip hinge movement that primarily targets the muscles in your posterior chain, aka the backside of your body, including your glutes, hamstrings, calves, lumbar spine (lower back), and thoracic spine (midback). These rear muscles now become the primary movers, and the muscles on the frontside of your body isometrically contract to form a stable base, says DiSalvo.

By pairing the lunging movement and the hip-hinging movement, you are performing an antagonistic co-contraction, explains DiSalvo, which basically means you are working opposing muscles on two different sides of your body (front and back) and in two different ways (isotonically and isometrically). “It’s like a 360-degree workout for your body,” says DiSalvo. An isotonic contraction is one that includes a concentric (shortening) and eccentric (lengthening) portion, like when you bend your knees and lower into the lunge, and then extend your legs again.

Your core and upper body also engage throughout the two-part movement.

While you lunge, you are engaging multiple muscles in your core, including your obliques (the muscles on the sides of your stomach), and transverse abdominis (the deepest ab muscle that wraps around your sides and spine), Clancy says. This core activation continues through the deadlifting portion, says DiSalvo, as you need to brace your entire midsection in order to maintain your balance.

Plus, if you do these moves with weights like Hale does, you’ll also isometrically work your upper body, including your rear deltoids (muscles on the back of your shoulders), lats (broadest muscles on each side of your back) and rhomboids (upper back muscles that help your shoulder blades retract), says DiSalvo, as well as the sides of your shoulders and your forearm flexors, adds Clancy. That’s simply because you’re keeping these muscles contracted to keep the weights steady throughout.

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Combine that with the lower-body benefits described above and it makes sense that reverse lunges to single-leg Romanian deadlifts are a kick-ass tool for total-body strengthening.

The alternating sequence matters too—by switching between lunges and deadlifts, you’ll challenge your balance and coordination.

“This is a high-threshold move,” says DiSalvo, meaning that it requires a high level of coordination to execute. By continually switching between lunging and hinging movements, you are challenging your motor skills to a greater degree than if you just did a set of lunges followed by a set of deadlifts, DiSalvo explains. “It’s a good test of your athleticism,” he adds.

This comes with the giant caveat that you need to know how to safely and effectively do the reverse lunge and the single-leg deadlift by themselves before combining them in this way.

“If you’re not stimulating the correct muscles, you’ll spend more time trying to maintain your balance rather than really locking in your form,” says Clancy.

Because this two-part move is quite advanced, here’s a five-part progression that can help you work up to it.