3 Single-leg Exercises to Improve Balance, Stability and Power

It’s no secret that runners need strong legs. Your legs cover miles and miles of asphalt, concrete, dirt and gravel, so they need the appropriate strength training to stay in top shape. Since you’re working on one single leg at a time when you run, it makes sense to structure your strength workouts in the same way by focusing on single-leg movements.

Not only will single-leg exercises improve your strength and power, they’ll also improve your balance and stability, leading to better, more efficient running form. Coach Nate takes us through three single-leg exercises that will help you power to your next PR. These exercises are progressive, so once you nail the first one you’ll be ready to move onto the next. We recommend starting on one leg and working your way through these exercises before switching legs.

1. Balance: Balancing on one leg

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Slowly shift your weight onto your left leg.
  • Pick up your right foot, so you’re standing solely on your left leg.
  • Spread your toes so there is equal pressure on your heel, your big toe and your pinky toe.
  • Make sure your hips are even and level with the ground.
  • Focus your eyes on a single spot on the ground and keep it there.
  • Feel free to hold on to a wall or railing if you need help keeping your balance.
  • For more of a challenge, try looking to your right side and then your left.
  • If you want the ultimate challenge, turn your face towards the ceiling and look up.
  • For the ultimate, ultimate challenge, look up while closing your eyes!
  • You should feel this exercise in your left foot, ankle and calf as you try to balance on your left leg.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise.

2. Stability: Single-leg quarter squat

  • The first rule of squatting is to bend with your hips and not your knees. Push your hips back instead of pushing your knees forward! Keep this in mind as you complete the following exercise.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, slowly shifting your weight onto your left leg.
  • Pick up your right foot, leaving you standing on your left leg.
  • Lean forward, pushing your hips back.
  • As you lean forward, your right leg should be bent at a 90-degree angle and slowly swing backwards.
  • If you’re having trouble staying balanced, place your right toe on the ground.
  • As you squat, keep an eye on your left knee. It should be moving straight and not rolling inwards or outwards.
  • Aim for five to eight reps before moving on to the next exercise.

3. Power: Single-leg squat jump

  • Get into the single leg quarter squat position from the previous exercise.
  • Instead of simply lifting yourself out of the squat position, jump up with your left leg.
  • The jump doesn’t have to be high, simply just unweight your left foot with a hop, landing back on the same leg.
  • If you need a bit of extra stability, you can touch your right toe to the ground to stabilize yourself as you’re squatting down.
  • Once you’re feeling more comfortable with this exercise, you can start to jump higher and higher.
  • Aim for five to eight reps before starting the exercises over with your right leg.

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