Strength and stability are both vital to moving well and being able to do the things you want to do. In this post, I’m sharing some of my favorite single-leg exercises that combine both so you get more bang for your buck.
Remember in every exercise to choose whichever version works for YOU & your body right now. Challenge yourself but stay safe!
1) Kettlebell Bowler’s Lunge w/ Slider
HOW TO DO IT:
- Begin standing with weight on one foot, and your other foot on a slider. You can use a hand towel (on hard floors) or a paper plate (on carpet) as an alternative.
- Hold the kettlebell (if using) in the hand on the same side as the slider. Root your standing foot into the ground, then slide other foot back and to the side, as if bowling.
- Maintain control throughout the movement, as you lower and as you return to standing. Start with a light weight until you have the stability to support a heavier kettlebell. This one is also great as a bodyweight exercise.
2) Lateral Box Step-Ups
As with most of my favorite exercises, this one can be adapted for many fitness levels. A great starting point is to use the bottom step of a staircase, or a fireplace hearth. For anyone who struggles with balance, I start with a step-stool close to the wall so they can place one hand there for safety.
To progress this exercise, you can use a higher step or add a weight. I show both progressions in this video. Keep this one slow and controlled, and make the leg on the box do the work, rather than pushing off with the toes of the other foot.
3) Single Leg Box Squat
Most of my clients will recognize this one because it’s so easily adaptable simply based on the height of the box you use. Working out at home? Use a chair, ottoman, or bench.
In this video, I demonstrate 3 heights, from easiest to harder.
CUES to remember: root the entire standing foot into the ground and keep those toes gripping the floor. If you are brand new to this and feeling wobbly, it’s ok to start with the toes of the other foot lightly on the floor; as you get stronger you’ll be stable enough to keep that foot raised throughout the movement.
If you are working toward a pistol squat, this exercise is great for that too!
4) Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
Make sure to master the standard (non-elevated split squat before trying this REAR FOOT ELEVATED SPLIT SQUAT, and always make sure you feel comfortable doing the bodyweight version of a movement *before* before adding weight.
CUES to remember:
- Keep your knee tracking over the toes of your standing foot. Don’t allow it to cave in or veer outward.
- Try leaning slightly forward as I am here to prevent your lower back from arching at the bottom of the movement.
- If your bench or stool is not padded, you may want to wear shoes, as it can be uncomfortable on the top of the rear foot.
- An ordinary step works great, as does a fireplace hearth, a stool, etc if you’re doing these at home.
5) Step Up to Balance
FOR BEGINNERS: choose a low step, and omit weights. This is a fabulous senior-friendly exercise, too! Try using the bottom step of a staircase, and advancing from there as you become stronger.
TO ADVANCE THIS EXERCISE: use a taller box and/or use heavier weights. Kettlebells work great too!
CUES to remember:
- Use the leg on the box/step to do the work, rather than pushing off with the foot on the ground.
- Keep the movement slow enough to maintain control throughout, and hold a brief pause each time at the top. (Step-ups can also be done as a plyometric move but that’s not what we’re going for here.)
6) Single Leg Deadlift
CUES to remember:
- This is a hip hinge so send hips BACK rather than focusing on getting the kettlebell to the floor.
- Keep the knee of the standing leg tracking over your toes; if it caves in or veers outward, practice without weights until you build more stability.
- Keep your toes gripping the floor!
- In the one-hand version, do not allow your body to twist as you lower the kettlebell.
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Strength is for EVERY body, at every age. I help people of all fitness levels get stronger and move better by coaching with encouragement, positivity, and, whenever possible, fun! I’d love to help you shine strong, too.