Single Leg Workout – Top Exercises Explained


Strengthening the lower body without weight can seem harder comparable to the upperbody when only using your bodyweight.  The big lower body muscles need a high amount of force to stimulate any adaptation. We therefore aim to increase the stress by completing a single leg workout and adaptive exercises to stress the large lowerbody muscles.



1. Single Leg Crosses


Single Leg Crosses aims to test both your stability and mobility by moving your centre of gravity moves off centre in different directions. 


Key coaching cues


  • Reach as far as you can with the free leg.
  • Single leg squat as low as possible with the stance leg.



2. Single Leg Floor Touches


Single leg touches test the strength you have at the hip and your ability to keep a strong stable upper torso while hip hinging. This single leg workout exercise is used in many of my initial phases in athletic preparation.


Key coaching cues


  • Hip hinge with straight spine
  • Keep shoulders blades back
  • bend slightly at the knee
  • Keep weight balanced through foot – heel, big toe and little toe all in contact with the floor



3. Single Leg Knee Climb


A great variation of the tradition step-up. However, the huge benefit of this variation is that it completely takes away any help from the back straighter leg. This means all forced used to complete the step up is performed by the front leg.


Key coaching cues


  • Keep chest up, do not bend forward
  • Drive stance leg into the ground
  • Use glutes to drive leg.



4. Single Leg Step-up


The step-up is a great exercise to develop leg strength and stability while the knee is bent. It is important to find a step, bench or box a around your knee level first and then increase the height. 


Coaching Cues


  • Drive foot into floor
  • Keep chest up, do not bend forward
  • Keep back leg straight at the bottom position.




5. Pistol Squat – Raised Heel


If you do not have good mobility in the ankle then the pistol squat is very hard to complete without raising the heel. This variation provides additional elevation at the heel allowing you to keep your body upright and have less demand for ankle mobility. This single leg workout exercise is used in many of my initial phases in athletic preparation.


Coaching Cues


  • Keep arms forward with tension at the shoulder
  • Free leg also pointed forward.
  • If there is any pain at the knee – regress to the bench pistol squat



6. Pistol Down on 1 up on 2


This variation of the pistol squat is a great way to build up strength as the focus is on controlling the body on the way down and then raising the body with both legs. When this movement is comfortable you are able to change to a harder variation.


Coaching Cues


  • Arms forward with tension at the shoulder
  • Slow deceleration to the floor for 3-5 seconds.
  • Breath out when you decelerate to the floor.



7. Pistol Squat normal


The normal pistol squat is a very advanced exercise of which demands very good ankle mobility to keep the foot planted on the floor. However, once you work through the regressions and improve the ankle range it is an amazing way to keep the ankle and lower body healthy and strong. 


Coaching Cues


  • Arms forward with tension at the shoulder
  • Create tension / a solid structure through the body – from the big toe to the head



8. Bulgairan Split Squat


For any individual who lacks mobility in the hips or ankles this exercise is perfect. It puts the lower limb in a position whereby the glutes can be strongly activated. It is important that you avoid knee valgus (the knee moving inwards). This single leg workout exercise is used in many of my initial phases in athletic preparation.


Coaching Cues


  • Track knee above litte toe throughout the whole movement
  • Keep chest up with good posture
  • Arms up for more stress on balance, arms down is easier.



Related Links


How to improve ankle mobility

How to improve hip mobility

How to improve your office posture



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