Friends don’t let friends skip leg day! This has been my motto for a while now and I say it frequently at the club! I know leg day isn’t everyone’s favorite, and it doesn’t have to be, but it should be a part of your normal fitness routine. Or maybe you don’t have leg “day,” but you incorporate some leg moves throughout your other workouts, which is great! Hopefully, you all know the benefits to including some leg exercises into your fitness regimen, but do you incorporate any single leg moves? Or know the benefits of them?
Single leg work is great for balance, stability, correcting muscular imbalances, and increases proprioception and focus. Plus, they are hard and usually get your heart rate up which is a great cardiovascular workout as well! PT Andy wrote about some great leg exercises a little while ago as well as a couple of single leg ones, so I don’t need to go into those (You can find Andy's blog post about Leg Workout Musts by clicking here.) I will give you some new ones to try though! When you think of single-leg exercises, you probably just think about lunges, but thankfully, there are a lot more exercises out there than just lunges (no offense to lunges as those are a great move as well).
What are these other single-leg exercises I speak of? So glad you asked! Check out the descriptions and videos below to help you out. I should note, you don’t need a lot of repetitions with single leg work. Most of these you will want to keep the reps lower to build more strength. Try using a barbell with all of them. You will be able to go a little heavier and really hammer your legs. Rest for 30-45 seconds in between legs and always alternate which leg you start with each set. The nice thing about these single-leg exercises is since you have a little support from the other leg, so balance isn’t that much of an inhibitor. I know a lot of people shy away from single leg work because they have poor balance. Well, these will help increase your balance as well as allow you to go a little heavier while having the aid of the support leg.
Here are four moves to try out.
Kickstand Romanian Deadlift (RDL) – All you do for a kickstand RDL is put one leg back a little bit and do an RDL except for using and focusing on the lead leg. You can put your rear leg up on a bench, or just place it about one foot behind your lead leg and focus on using your front leg only. Shoot for 4-6 reps per leg.
Kickstand squat – Similar to the kickstand RDL, place one foot about one foot behind where you would normally have your foot for a normal squat position and just squat down. Stay up on your back toe the whole time and keep most of the weight on your front leg. Your front knee will travel a little further forward than during a normal squat, but don’t worry! As long as you don’t feel any knee pain, it is good for your knee to get the increased range of motion, especially since you won’t have near as much weight on the bar. Shoot for 4-8 reps per leg.
Jefferson deadlift – This is like a sumo squat but emphasizes the front leg. Stand with one foot on either side of the bar a little wider than hip width apart. Keep your lead foot pointed straight forward and your back foot anywhere from 45-90 degrees out depending on your hip mobility. The main thing is keeping that back foot on the ground and keeping your torso facing straight forward towards your lead leg. Don’t let your back heal come of the ground or let your torso twist so it’s facing at an angle. Pick up the bar in between your legs keeping your back flat and straight, then set it back down. Do 6-10 reps per leg.
Rear leg elevated Kang squat – Kind of a cross between a good morning and split squat. Place one foot on a bench behind you. Bend over like you are going to do a good morning, when you hit parallel or slightly above, drop your rear knee down into a lunge position, then drive yourself up through your front heal. Shoot for 6-8 slow and controlled reps per leg.
Try a couple of these by adding them into your workout and let us know what you think. Check out the videos if you need a better visual and as always, ask one of the trainers for help if you need it. That’s what we love to do!