Performing exercises on one leg is an underused and underappreciated training method. When you incorporate single-leg movements and upper-body exercises, you build the core strength and balance essential for many sports.
A single-leg, full-body workout:
- Works lower-body muscles (hips/quadriceps/hamstrings, calves.)
- Builds core strength.
- Promotes upper-body strength and size when you perform upper-body exercises on one leg.
- Produces stronger bone density since all exercises are done standing (weight-bearing upright activities such as jogging, walking or lifting weights strengthen bones more effectively than seated or supine exercises.)
- Forces the muscles to work harder to maintain stability, revving up your metabolism.
Try these challenging and fast-paced full-body, single-leg workouts on non-consecutive days, allowing for adequate recovery.
WATCH: The Best Single-Leg Exercises for Athletes
- Moderately heavy kettlebell (KB) – 70 or 80% RM (substitute a dumbbell if necessary)
- Water bottle
- Do an upper/lower-body dynamic warm-up (e.g., Arm Circles and Lunges).
- Finish with upper/lower-body static cool-down stretches for greater flexibility and range of motion.
- Hydrate before/during/after workout.
- To optimally enhance balance/core stabilization, perform entire single-leg workout, preventing raised foot from touching the ground.
- Do all exercises in a standing position.
- Sets/Reps: 3×10; rest between sets, 15 seconds.
- Rest between exercises: 30 seconds (hydrate during rest). Short rest periods between sets and exercises intensify the workout and enhance endurance—another fundamental sports performance attribute.
Single-Leg Squats & Overhead Presses
- Hold KB in left hand atop left shoulder while standing on right leg (knee slightly bent) and left foot off ground.
- Squat and simultaneously press KB overhead while returning to upright position and slowly lowering KB back on shoulder (2 seconds).
- Do 10 reps and repeat with right arm for 10 reps while standing on left leg.
- Targets hips, legs, shoulders, and triceps.
Single-Leg Cross Rows
Excellent lower, middle and upper back and biceps-building exercise that also engages core muscles and strengthens the “pulling” muscles needed for tackling or bringing down an opponent.
- Hold KB in left hand at side with left foot off ground and right knee slightly bent.
- Squat with right leg and slowly bring KB down across body toward right ankle.
- Pause one second at bottom, then quickly pull KB back to start position.
- After 10 reps, immediately place KB in right hand with right foot off ground and repeat cross-row movement to opposite left ankle for 10 reps.
Develops “pushing” muscles (triceps, chest) for blocking or pushing away opponents.
- Hold KB with both hands close to your chest with left foot off ground and right knee slightly bent.
- Explosively press KB away from chest and slowly return to start (right leg remains stationary with knee bent without squatting).
- After 10 reps, repeat Press-Outs standing on left leg.
Single-Leg Upright Rows
Another pulling movement, Upright Rows build powerful shoulders and trapezius muscles.
- Hold KB with both hands below waist level with left foot off ground and right knee bent.
- Quickly pull KB up toward chest and slowly lower for 10 reps.
- Immediately switch to right foot off ground and repeat the movement for 10 reps.
Single-Leg Kettlebell Twists
Good exercise for strengthening muscles used for rapid turning/twisting movements during practices and games.
- Hold KB with both hands at chest level with arms extended while standing on right leg with left foot off ground.
- Quickly rotate KB to the right and slowly return to start.
- Following 10 reps, immediately stand on left leg and rotate KB toward the left for 10 reps.