Performing exercises on one leg is an underused and underappreciated training method. When you incorporate single-leg movements and upper-body exercises, you build the core strength and balance essential for many sports.
A single-leg, full-body workout:
Works lower-body muscles (hips/quadriceps/hamstrings, calves.)
Builds core strength.
Promotes upper-body strength and size when you perform upper-body exercises on one leg.
Produces stronger bone density since all exercises are done standing (weight-bearing upright activities such as jogging, walking or lifting weights strengthen bones more effectively than seated or supine exercises.)
Forces the muscles to work harder to maintain stability, revving up your metabolism.
Try these challenging and fast-paced full-body, single-leg workouts on non-consecutive days, allowing for adequate recovery.
Moderately heavy kettlebell (KB) – 70 or 80% RM (substitute a dumbbell if necessary)
Do an upper/lower-body dynamic warm-up (e.g., Arm Circles and Lunges).
Finish with upper/lower-body static cool-down stretches for greater flexibility and range of motion.
Hydrate before/during/after workout.
To optimally enhance balance/core stabilization, perform entire single-leg workout, preventing raised foot from touching the ground.
Do all exercises in a standing position.
Sets/Reps: 3x10; rest between sets, 15 seconds.
Rest between exercises: 30 seconds (hydrate during rest). Short rest periods between sets and exercises intensify the workout and enhance endurance—another fundamental sports performance attribute.
Single-Leg Squats & Overhead Presses
Hold KB in left hand atop left shoulder while standing on right leg (knee slightly bent) and left foot off ground.
Squat and simultaneously press KB overhead while returning to upright position and slowly lowering KB back on shoulder (2 seconds).
Do 10 reps and repeat with right arm for 10 reps while standing on left leg.
Targets hips, legs, shoulders, and triceps.
Single-Leg Cross Rows
Excellent lower, middle and upper back and biceps-building exercise that also engages core muscles and strengthens the "pulling" muscles needed for tackling or bringing down an opponent.
Hold KB in left hand at side with left foot off ground and right knee slightly bent.
Squat with right leg and slowly bring KB down across body toward right ankle.
Pause one second at bottom, then quickly pull KB back to start position.
After 10 reps, immediately place KB in right hand with right foot off ground and repeat cross-row movement to opposite left ankle for 10 reps.
Develops "pushing" muscles (triceps, chest) for blocking or pushing away opponents.
Hold KB with both hands close to your chest with left foot off ground and right knee slightly bent.
Explosively press KB away from chest and slowly return to start (right leg remains stationary with knee bent without squatting).
After 10 reps, repeat Press-Outs standing on left leg.
Single-Leg Upright Rows
Another pulling movement, Upright Rows build powerful shoulders and trapezius muscles.
Hold KB with both hands below waist level with left foot off ground and right knee bent.
Quickly pull KB up toward chest and slowly lower for 10 reps.
Immediately switch to right foot off ground and repeat the movement for 10 reps.
Single-Leg Kettlebell Twists
Good exercise for strengthening muscles used for rapid turning/twisting movements during practices and games.
Hold KB with both hands at chest level with arms extended while standing on right leg with left foot off ground.
Quickly rotate KB to the right and slowly return to start.
Following 10 reps, immediately stand on left leg and rotate KB toward the left for 10 reps.
This article originally appeared on STACK.com: Improve Strength and Balance With This Single-Leg Workout