There are many reasons why you should include unilateral (single-leg) exercises in to your training routine:
- Single-leg training allows you to increase muscle activation in the isolated leg since the isolated leg is being forced to do all of the work. If your goals are to increase muscle size, training one leg at a time is a must.
- Your balance and stability will improve as you increase your single leg strength.
- If you are constantly lifting very heavy weights, sometimes your spine needs a break from having a heavy bar on your back. Unilateral exercises allow you to challenge yourself and maintain higher volume in your workouts while using lower intensity (weight).
- Many studies have shown that if you increase strength in your legs individually, you will get even stronger on 2 legged exercises like a squat or deadlift.
Single Leg Exercises
Dumbbell Step-Ups- Step-ups are a great multi-joint, unilateral exercise that works the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Make sure your foot is placed all the way on the box. Step up on to the box using only the elevated foot. Do not cheat and push off the ground with the other leg.
Dumbbell Bulgarian- Bulgarians work the muscles of the lower body and also challenge your balance. Stand a few feet in front of a box and place the toes of one foot back onto the box. You can hold one dumbbell in front of your chest like a Goblet Squat <Link to Goblet Squat> or hold two dumbbells at your side like a step-up. Lower your hips until the back knee is just above the floor and make sure you keep an upright torso.