My 3 Favourite 1 leg exercises

by Conor Mulhern, FTI Trainer

There are massive benefits introducing single leg training in to your training program. Many gym goers are still big fans of bilateral training (using two leg exercises) but could reap bigger rewards by introducing some unilateral work (one leg exercises).


Some of the advantages for single leg in my opinion are;


• Better activation of muscles due to an increased need for stabilisation – leading to better balance, increased speed, amongst others. Usually we see greater activation in the glutes and adductors.


• A lot of the time with two leg exercises we see the stronger leg compensate for the weaknesses in the weaker leg. Single leg work can help bridge the gap between asymmetries.


• I prefer clients using dumbbells than a barbell when performing single leg exercises as it reduces the risk of an accident but also allows us to reduce spinal loading, the last thing someone needs after a long day sitting at a desk is to be loaded up with a bar on their back.

The lighter loads and lack of spinal loading can help us improve posture.


• The lack of spinal loading allows a quicker recovery time as we reduce the stress on the central nervous system.


• Single leg exercises can also be used as great core exercise and help to build pillar strength.


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Three exercises I always try to incorporate into someone’s training program are the Single Leg Deadlift, Split Squat and Single Leg Glute Bridge.


Single Leg Deadlift

When performing the SLDL we should see a nice flat back, tight packed shoulder and our back leg locked out pushing the heel away while we push our hips back while slightly bending our standing leg.


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Split Squat


Starting in a tall split stance position we start by lowering our body by bending the knee and hip until

the rear knee is slightly off the ground, from there drive off the front heel locking out the knee and

hip using the back leg to help us keep stable.

We usually begin in a split stance position and progress to a rear foot elevated position.


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Single Leg Glute Bridge


Lying in on the floor bring your heels to the tips of fingers, drive your heel into the ground raising

the resting leg towards the chest. Driving your heel into the ground, raise your glutes off the ground

locking out your hips and holding for time or performing reps.


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