The 5 Best Single Leg Stability Exercises

single leg exercises

Building a strong foundation is important before progressing into plyometrics, such as jump training, or implementing external stimuli through the use of different surface types, weights, or resistance bands. The movement pattern quality needs to be good first before adding fun toys to the exercise.

Once a person can demonstrate effective movement and control of their body in space, then the patterns are reinforced through the use of weights, bands or unstable surfaces to improve muscle sequencing and function under stress.

This is the principle behind strength training; adding weight or resistance to challenge the movement greater than bodyweight to build muscle integrity and performance. This principle can also pertain to volume and intensity as executing a movement with higher repetitions or increased speed is another way to train muscle performance.

In terms of the exercises demonstrated in this article, lower repetitions and sets are implemented at first as these are relearning drills where the body is trying to understand the proper patterns.

Once the movement is mastered, certain external stimuli are added to challenge the system slightly more. Sometimes more isn’t better in that once fatigue sets in and form breaks down, the benefits of the exercise are minimal.

These exercises are to be executed slowly and with a detailed focus on the movement.

Once the foundation is developed, progressions into adding heavier weight, resistance, or speed can be implemented to then train for higher levels of performance.

You can’t train the higher levels yet if the basics are lacking, as that is where the compensation occurs.

Exercise #1: Single Leg Balance With Weight

Single Leg Balance With Weight

Standing on one leg, hold the opposite leg up to 90 degrees.

  • Relax the knee and ankle of the elevated leg and focus on the position of the pelvis by keeping it level.
  • On the same side of the leg off the ground, hold a dumbbell or kettlebell. The extra weight will act to throw you off balance, causing you to counter the force.
  • Use anywhere from 10-20lbs and focus on holding for 30 second intervals.
  • Avoid leaning back to ensure staying neutral for proper core muscle sequencing.

Exercise #2: Single Leg Paloff Press

single leg paloff press

Standing on one leg, press the band straight out in front of you while preventing the force of the band from pulling you over.

  • Attempt continuous repetitions without putting the foot down.
  • Alternate between the stance leg being closer to the band and then the stance leg being farther from the band anchor placement.
  • Make sure to do both sides by facing both ways so the band comes from your left and then also your right.
  • Repeat 15 times each way.

Progress this move by pressing the band out and then overhead for more advanced control training.

Exercise #3: Tandem Paloff Press & Walkout

tandem paloff press and walkout

Start with standing heel to toe position. Hold the band belly height and elbows in.

  • Press the band straight out while maintaining balance and preventing the band from pulling you over.
  • Return to start position.
  • Do 10-15 repetitions. Repeat another set but switch the foot position.

Once this position is mastered, progress the movement by holding the band straight out and walking heel to toe while preventing the band from pulling you off balance.

Walk forward and backward while continuing to hold the band straight out in front of you. Attempt 5-10 steps each direction depending on the space available.

Repeat facing both ways.

Exercise #4: Runner Stride

runner stride exercise

Start on the floor in the lunge position with hips and knees at a 90/90 angle.

  • While keeping torso erect, push up from the front leg and drive the back leg forward.
  • End in a single leg stance position, attempting to hold for 1-2 seconds to ensure control.
  • Then return back to the lunge position.
  • Repeat 10-15 each leg.

Exercise #5: Single Leg Hip Hinge

single leg hip hinge

Start by standing with a pole or dowel behind your back while ensuring it makes contact with the back of your head, shoulder blades, and tailbone.

  • Slowly lean forward on one leg while kicking the opposite leg straight behind you, still maintaining the dowel on all 3 points of contact.
  • Allow a slight bend in the knee but focus more on the hip angle and pushing your weight back.
  • Your stance leg knee should not move past your toes.
  • Make sure the hips do not rotate and that they are level.
  • Return back to start position. Repeat 10-15 times each leg.

About The Author:

Michael St. George PT, DPT has been practicing for 10 years primarily in the outpatient and orthopedic setting. He works for a physical therapist owned private practice based in the greater Philadelphia area and surrounding suburbs. Mike is certified through Functional Movement Systems for FMS, SFMA and FCS which consist of screens and testing used to measure movement quality and performance. Mike also has experience with working with numerous surgeons and physicians from the Rothman institute. Currently he works primarily with ACL, meniscus and post surgical recovery and sports injuries, return to sport testing and performance, running evaluation and re training and hand and upper extremity conditions.