Single-Leg Workout


One-legged moves can go far to balance out the right and left sides of the lower body. They keep you honest. To prevent injury, go easy in the beginning, start with one set and gradually work your way up to three sets. To maximize benefits, complete all sets on one leg and then go on to the other. Also, start your one-legged exercises on the weaker leg, and then work your stronger leg.

In addition to balancing out both sides of the body, single-leg (unilateral) exercises work the deep lateral stabilizers of the hip and core (i.e., gluteus medius and quadratus lumborum) in ways we can’t duplicate with bilateral moves. There’s also more carryover to normal ground-based movements like walking, skipping and running than you have with bilateral exercise. Try adding a few of the following exercises into your regular weight-training regimen for better balance and greater strength and for an overall body toning.

1) Step-Ups
step-ups

Step-ups target the glutes and hamstrings as well as the quadriceps.

  • Stand with a 12- to 18-inch plyo box or bench at your right side and your right foot on the box.
  • Step up onto the box with your left foot while straightening the hip and the knee of your right leg. Root through your right heel to lift the rest of your body and raise the left knee until both your left hip and knee reach a 90-degree angle.
  • Step down with the left leg by bending the hip and knee of the right leg.
  • Repeat with the right leg for 10 to 15 repetitions, and then turn to face the opposite direction and perform the entire routine with the left leg.

2) Bulgarian Split Squat
split-squat

This one-legged squat resembles a lunge, except the non-working leg is propped up on a bench for balance. It works the quadriceps and glutes.

  • Start by standing about two to three feet in front of a flat bench with your back to the bench. Reach one foot back so that your toes rest on the bench.
  • Your other foot should be planted in front of you.
  • Keep your head up, back straight and chest out while performing this exercise.
  • As you inhale, slowly lower your back knee until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. At this point, your knee should be directly over your toes.
  • Lift your knee back to the starting position as you exhale.
  • Repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions. Switch legs and repeat the movement.