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December 19, 2017

3 Single Leg Exercises You Need To Try


There are SO MANY exercises out there, let alone single leg exercises.  How are you supposed to choose which ones you should be doing?

Well my friend, that’s why you’re here. Give these three bad boy’s a try and you should be set.

I suggest doing them all in the same workout, in the order given below.

Set’s, reps, set up and load depends on your personal fitness level, experience, and equipment available to you.

I do not suggest super-setting them with other exercises, because they are single leg exercises.  While one leg is working, the other is resting – there is no need for additional rest unless for cardiac/respiratory needs.  Trust me, these will also get your heart rate up especially if you limit the rest periods!


Shall we?

Cable assisted pistol squat

You can do pistol squats tons of different ways; to a chair or bench, TRX assisted, pole assisted, from an elevated surface like a box, and the list continues.

I like this cable assisted version better than a chair or bench assisted pistol squat because it allows a greater range of motion + engages more of the body.

You will need enough upper body strength to keep your shoulder blades pulled together to avoid rounding your back.

For the exercise:

Keep your whole foot planted, the knee can come over the toe if you’d like OR you can sit back more. Either way is fine as long as you’re keeping a good posture.  This exercise lights up your quads and glutes no matter how you do it. Either way you are moving your body weight via ONE LEG (with no support from the other leg like you would have in a lunge or split squat type exercise).


Bulgarian Split squat

The Bulgarian split squat is a staple in strength training + single leg exercises. It can be done with body weight, dumbbells, kettle bells or even a barbell.  If you want to get strong + build some solid legs, you NEED to be doing these.

These tend to challenge people’s balance. You can hold on to a wall or stable object next to you and still get an awesome workout.  The extra stimulus to the CNS (central nervous system) makes these a real “most bang for your buck” single leg exercise.

If find you cannot elevate the back leg, I suggest dropping the back foot to the floor and performing a normal, stationary split squat.

The back foot can be flat/pointed (shoe laces on the bench) or flexed/turned under (bottom of shoe facing back wall) – whichever is more comfortable for the ankle is fine.

You can adjust the front foot position to target different areas of your legs/glutes.

  • Quad dominant: foot closer to you + knee driving over the toe more (positive shin angle)
  • Glute dominant: foot further out in front of you to create a near vertical shin angle (note – this requires a stretch in the front hip/quad area of the back leg).



Single leg Glute Bridge (back on bench – more advanced or floor – beginner)

Of course I had to add a glute/hamstring dominant exercise. (Read how to build glutes without becoming quadzilla here).

The single leg glute bridge/hip thrust targets the glutes and hamstrings specifically.

Your back can be on the ground (easier) or on a bench (harder).

The main points here are that:

  • the bench should be at knee level or slightly lower
  • your shin should be vertical when hips are extended
  • core should be tight at the top (ribs pinned down)
  • chin should be tucked with eyes forward – this ensures you won’t hyperextend through your low back
  • push through your heel and actively squeeze the glute at the top.


Now you know – Three single leg exercises you need to try.


Have you done these exercises? I would love to hear from YOU!

Leave me a comment with your thoughts on these exercises or share with me YOUR personal favorite single leg work!

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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