When we talk about having strong legs we usually associate it with a squat or a deadlift not a single leg exercise. However, you can still have strong legs without having to do those big compound movements. Usually squats and deadlifts can put a great deal of pressure on the lower back. The single leg exercises I’m going to tell you about take some pressure off the lower back and put more emphasis on the glutes, quadriceps and the hamstrings.

Bulgarian sprit squats

Single leg exercise          

This movement is performed with one foot on the bench/box and one on the floor. The leg on the floor is the working leg. All the force should be put through the heel so that the glutes engage properly. Make sure the knee doesn’t valgus. So that the right muscles are used during the movement. Whilst bending the front knee and the hip until you bring it to 90 degrees. You shall feel it more in your glutes compared to a squat.

Single leg sit downs


This movement is a regression from a pistol squat and I use it a lot with my client who want to increase leg strength. You can vary the height of the box you sit down on and lowering it as you progress. Stand in front of a box, sit down with one leg and push up to get back up again. You can add weight to make it harder or hold onto something stable to make it easier. Always remember to push through the heel on every single leg exercise.

Reverse Lunge

          Single leg exercise

The reverse lunge is favoured more compared to the forward lunge. You will feel that it is easier to perform and gives you more bang for you buck (exercise). Stand with feet hip width apart and then bring one of the legs behind you. Maintain both legs at 90 degrees at the lower phase to get the right contraction on the muscle.

Step ups


Step ups are a great single leg exercise to do everywhere, you just need an elevated surface. Start of small and build your way up the higher the step the more glute you use. The more power through range you create. Use a weight to add more force or slow the movement right down to add more time under tension.  Stand in front of the box with one foot up and push through the heel until standing on the box. keep your core braced so that you don’t twist the hips.

Single leg RDL


This is one of my favourite hamstring exercises and after doing all the quad based exercises I finish with this one to help develop the hamstring more. Although I do more hamstring work during the week. Stand with your feet hip with apart, keep the back straight and the glutes and core tight. Hinge at the hip keeping the leg stiff with a slight bend. Holding one dumbbell in the hand of the working leg, slide the DB down the leg until you feel a tension in the hamstring. Then come back to stand. Control the movement so the knee won’t buckle and the emphasis will be on the hamstring.

Last note:

As a personal trainer for the Windsor area, I use all of these with my client. Great for leg strength and to limit the strain on the lower back whilst still focusing on strength and mobility. These are a great asset to any personal trainer working in a mobile environment because you need minimal equipment. Just the expertise to coach them the right way.