I’m a huge fan of single leg training because of its many benefits as well as the results I’ve achieved from using unilateral movements such as balance, growth and strength. Before we get into some of the best single leg exercises, lets go over the benefits of adding them into your routine.
Benefits of Unilateral Leg Training-
- Improve stability
- Improve balance
- Increase single leg strength
- Increase in bilateral training
- Engage smaller muscles (gluteus medius, abductors)
- Reduce injury
- Reduce spinal compression
- Reduce knee pain
If single leg training is new to you, give yourself about 6 weeks of unilateral training to bring your unilateral strength up and achieve balance.
Top 10 Single Leg Exercises –
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift – an accessory movement for the deadlift, focuses on the hamstring. Can be performed in a braced position to allow for heavier loading.
Single Leg Glute Bridge – targets the glutes and hamstrings.
Elevated, Single Leg Hip Thrusts – the range of motion in this exercise increases both hip extension strength and single leg stability. Targets the glutes and hamstrings.
Split Squats – main muscle worked is the quads while also targeting the glutes and hamstrings. Grab a pair of dumbells for added weight.
Pistol Squat – work those quads, improve single leg strength and coordination with this unilateral move. For beginners, progression is key, try holding onto something as you lower yourself down and pull yourself back up or use a bench.
Single Leg Back Extension – one of my favorites, targets the hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
Forward and/or Reverse Lunges – the main muscle worked in the lunge is the quads however you will also work the calves, glutes and hamstrings. Grab a barbell or dumbells to kick this move up a notch.
Box Step Up – work those quads as well as the calves, hamstrings and glutes with this move. Can also be done with a barbell or dumbbells.
Quad Extensions – alternate legs on this excellent quad building machine!
Hamstring Curls – same as above, except targeting the hamstrings. Can also be performed on a stability ball.