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©2020 by Jonathon Reid

  • Jon Reid

Top 4 Single Leg Exercises

Single leg training is often forgotten about but is crucial for sports performance and building muscle. These four exercises are my go-to single leg exercises for those who want to become more athletic and build strength, speed and power:

Reverse Lunge and Explosive Lunge Variations

The reverse lunge is one of the first single leg exercises I do with clients and is the first step towards explosive single leg movements. Start with mastering the bodyweight reverse lunge, add load and then think about adding explosive variations such as jumping and ‘switching’ lunges. These movement build strength, stability and explosive power, which will make you more athletic.

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats

Rear foot elevated split squats are one of best ways train the lower body. Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance and even explosive power can all be trained with much less load than is required for back and front squats.

This makes the rear foot elevated split squat particularly good for those who don’t want to load the spine directly, or who can’t squat for whatever reason. Rear foot elevated split squats are tough, they require balance and strength so start conservatively with just your bodyweight and add load gradually.

Rolling Pistols

I love rolling pistols because of their dynamic nature. They require a high level of kinaesthetic awareness (knowing where your body is in space and time) and are a great way to train each leg through a full range of motion. They’re much more challenging than they look and are useful when progressing towards a full pistol squat. I tend to use them as a warm up, finisher or movement challenge. I tend not to add any load to rolling pistols — progress by adding reps or speed.

Lateral Bounds

Lateral bounds are a great way to train dynamic stability, power in the frontal plane and progress towards sprinting specific plyometrics. Start by bounding and sticking (holding) the landing and progress towards multiple repetitions with no ‘sticking.’ Lateral bounds are a great addition to sports performance warm ups or for pairing with a lower body strength exercise as part of a strength-power superset.


Single leg training is important for well rounded athleticism and is often neglected. Those training for sports performance should be particularly aware of including single leg training in their program. The benefits also extend to those looking to build muscle and burn fat; single leg training can add slabs of muscle and produce a powerful metabolic effect when performed with moderate load and high repetitions. Including the 4 mentioned exercises will take your physical performance to the next level.