The Best Single-Leg Exercises for Youth Athletes

These single-leg exercises can help young athletes make improvements in strength, speed and hypertrophy.

Training with single-leg exercises is effective for almost every sport. When we sprint, we propel ourselves from one foot to the other, and in the weight room it is not uncommon to see unilateral training help athletes improve single-leg stability for strength, speed and power.

The benefits of training on one leg are endorsed by most strength coaches and trainers. However, many lack proper guidelines for how to progress from one to exercise to the next. When trainers prescribe these exercises, their purpose is to improve recruitment patterns, challenge stability, and meet their athletes or clients where they currently are in their training logistics.

Many variations can be included in your programs for youth athletes. Give these single-leg exercises a try for approximately three to four weeks per exercise, and you will see improvements in strength, speed and hypertrophy.

RELATED: 7 Tips to Master Single-Leg Exercises

Variations of Single-Leg Strength Training Exercises

Low Cable Split-Squat

Sets/Reps: 3-4x5-10 per side

Tempo: Use an eccentric or pause tempo to improve the learning curve and increase the physiological demands of the exercise.

Where to Place in Off-Season Program: Month 1

This exercise challenges stability in both legs. It challenges the posterior chain because of placement of the load (from a cable machine). Further, you also have spinal flexion, extension and rotation patterns, and scapular integrity as you hold the cable in place.

Goblet Split-Squat

Sets/Reps: 3-4x5-10 per side

Tempo: None

Where to Place in Off-Season Program: Month 1 or 2

This exercise challenges stability of the front leg and aims to improve mobility of the back leg by releasing the hip flexor. If done properly, it can be performed with any dumbbell, barbell or a weight vest.

Slideboard Goblet Reverse Lunge

Sets/Reps: 3-4x4-8 per side

Tempo: None

Where to Place in Off-Season Program: Month 2

In this slideboard variation, you eliminate the eccentric portion of the exercise. You can greatly increase stability demands on the front leg and reduce impact on the knee/foot complex of the back leg. This one can also be done with weight vest, dumbbells or kettlebells.

Eccentric Goblet Reverse Lunge

Sets/Reps: 2-3x3-6 per side

Tempo: 3-6-second eccentric tempo

Where to Place in Off-Season Program: Month 3

Including a tempo increases the neuromuscular demands and adds an element of hypertrophy if greater loads are used.

RELATED: Elite Performance With Mike Boyle: Why Single-Leg Exercises Are Best for Athletes


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: LOWER BODY | EXERCISE | LEG EXERCISES