Strength training is just as important to your overall health and wellness as cardio. Cardio exercises such as walking, running, biking, or swimming are wonderful for cardiovascular health and improving endurance. But to get a further boost or if you want to improve power and speed, incorporating strength or resistance training into your routine is integral. Read below to learn to top 5 lightweight strengthening exercises.
What can you do if you only have lighter weights or you’re sick of doing the same old exercises? One way to switch it up is to incorporate in single-leg challenges. Not only will it address strength, but will also work on your balance and stability. Below are 5 single-leg exercises that you can add to your lower body workout. Before you start, check these 4 tips to do it safely and effectively.
4 Keys to Safely & Effectively Perform Single Leg Strengthening Exercises
1. Keep your Hips Square or Pointed Forward: When weight training in general you want to reduce how much your hips and back are rotating or your legs are collapsing in toward your midline. This is often a recipe for pain and injury and is a sign of instability. To work on instability, work on your form. Keep your front pelvic/hip bones facing forward no matter if you’re standing upright, in a squat, or doing a step up.
2. Stay Grounded in the Stationary Foot: The goal is to keep your weight grounded in the heel and the inner and outer part of the balls of your feet. Your toes should be able to wiggle freely, so try to avoid any toe gripping. This will help with stability and balance.
3. Engage Your Core. Your trunk and pelvis are the centers of your body, and when doing strength or balance challenges you want to keep your center stable. Do this by keeping your core engaged by tensing your midsection as if to pull your belly button in toward your spine. Also aim to keep your spine straight throughout the exercise
4. Get the Full Range: Don’t short-change yourself, get the full benefit by going as deep into the movement as you can, while maintaining the principles above.
5 Single Leg Strengthening Exercises
- Single-Leg Bridge: Press through your heel and squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips up, keeping 1 leg straight and lifted. Increase difficulty by holding a weight across to your pelvis.
2. Single Leg Romanian Deadlift: Hold on to weight, while framing your stationary leg with both arms. The opposite leg is behind and locked out at the knee with the toe pointed down. Fold at the hips (don’t round your back) and only slightly bend your front knee as you squat/lower down. A good depth is if hands go down to the knee or mid-shin.
3. High Step Up: This can be done with or without weight. Drive through your top foot/heel to step up
4. Split Squat: Put your back foot on a regular step. Keep your weight on your front leg. Keeping trunk upright lower back knee down.
5. Single Leg Elevated Squat: Keep 1 leg out in front of you with knee locked and toe pointed up, squat down.
If you have pain during or after the exercise, stop and reassess your form. If pain persists call Action Potential Physical Therapy. The PTs are movement and injury specialists and can help you safely reach your goals.