OCF Movement Academy: Single Leg Movements You Should Be Doing

The squat and the deadlift are no doubt the king and queen of leg development. 


But that’s not all we can do to develop our lower legs.


If you are like most us mortals you may have one leg you favor versus the other. 


Can you fix that by squatting and deadlifting more? 


No Way!


Do You Walk? 


Do You Run? 


Did you know those are single-leg movements? 


For overall balance, development, and an injury-free body single-leg movements can paramount for your success. 


So which ones should you be performing? 


Aren’t sure how you should be performing them? 


No worries, we got you covered. 


Movement #1 – Reverse Lunge 


The Reverse lunge can be performed unweighted, goblet hold position, farmer carry (Dbs or Kbs), barbell back rack, and front rack. 


Start standing upright.  Take a large step backward.  Lower your hips so that the front leg becomes parallel to the floor with your front knee directly over your ankle.  Your back knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor with your back heel lifted. Return to standing by pressing your front foot into the floor and bringing your back leg forward. 


The stance may take a minute to find the right one.  We would like you to be wide enough you can keep your balance and torso upright.  At the bottom of the lunge, we should see two 90 degrees angles. One in front leg, one in trail leg. The back knee is to gently kiss the floor. If you are losing tension a collapsing shorten the range of motion and work on keeping tension throughout the movement.  Over time you will progress into a deeper leg. 


The Reverse lunge strengthens your legs overall with an emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings due to the drive back. 


For Strength, we recommend 6-8 reps x 3-4 sets. For muscle building, we recommend 10-12 reps x 3-4 sets 


Movement #2 – Single Leg Romanian Deadliift 


In the demonstration, you will see this movement performed with a kettlebell, but feel free to use a dumbbell, a barbell, heck even a can of soup.


The SL RDL helps develop balance, works out asymmetries in legs, strengthens glutes and hamstrings, and helps with knee pain.  


Use a proper hinge pattern in each rep and focus on pushing through your entire foot throughout the movement.  More on hinge pattern HERE


We recommend performing the SL RDL in your warmups as well as during strength sessions.  For Warmup perform 6-8 reps per leg x 2-3 sets. For strength sessions, lower rep range to 4-6 reps per leg and up the sets to 3-4. 


Movement #3 – Lateral Lunge 


The Lateral lunge is a great way to help trace a proper squat pattern in one leg as well as stretch the hip in the trail leg.  As you push your butt back, keep your chest up, and heels down you’ll notice your working leg will resemble an idea bottom of squat position at the bottom.  The trail leg will feel a stretch in the adductor. This area is crucial to have a mobile for proper squatting and reduce the chance of knee pain. For an extra stretch turn your trail leg toe up. 


We recommend 4-5 reps per side x 2 -3 sets 


Movement #4 – Bulgarian Split Squat 


There are many benefits to the BSS.  Balance, core strength, quad strength, hamstring and glute strength, and calf strength are to name a few. 


If you are a runner, you NEED to be doing this movement. 


How to perform


Find yourself a step, bench or any other contraption that you can rest a foot on, it needs to be about knee height. Get into a forward lunge position with torso upright, core braced and hips square to your body, with your back foot elevated on the bench. Your leading leg should be half a meter or so in front of the bench.  Lower until your front thigh is almost horizontal, keeping your knee in line with your foot. Don’t let your front knee travel beyond your toes. Drive-up through your front heel back to the starting position, again keeping your movements measured. Take your time getting the proper stance down.  

Once you have this the movement gets easier to perform. Not easier overall LOL. Because now it’s time to work.

For Strength, we recommend 6-8 reps x 3-4 sets. For muscle building, we recommend 10-12 reps x 3-4 sets  Take a break from the double leg movements for a bit to focus on the single-leg varieties to bring up imbalances, change the routine, and recruit muscle fibers you may not be used in the double leg variations.

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