Strengthen your lower body AND core with these single leg exercises. This unilateral leg day workout allows you to increase the load on each individual leg – without needing extra weights or fancy gym equipment. This workout targets the hips, hamstrings, glutes, calves and quads in around 30 minutes.
This post is brought to you in partnership with the Minnesota Pork Board.
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of strength training around here. Our Drop Set Arms and Abs and Drop Set Leg Day workouts are focused on heavy strength training – and some of your favorite workouts.
Unilateral exercise (or single-sided training) increases the intensity while keeping things low impact.
Single leg work increases the load on the working leg, making the exercise more difficult without adding heavier weights. Additionally, single leg exercises require more balance and stability which means your abs and core muscles are constantly engaged.
That makes this workout an effective lower body strength workout AND sneaky core training.
This unilateral leg day workout is all strength training and naturally low impact. It is designed to build muscle in the quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, calves and core — all in around 30 minutes.
Single leg exercises (also called unilateral leg exercises) are performed by isolating one leg at a time. This is in contrast to bilateral exercises (such as standard squats) that require both legs to work at the same time.
Single leg exercises build muscle in the working leg, isolate and correct muscle imbalances, and improve balance and core stability. Unilateral training forces each leg to do the work without allowing more dominant leg muscles to take over (like they can in bilateral training).
Build strong legs with this ALL STRENGTH unilateral leg workout with dumbbells!
Unilateral leg exercises recruit more muscles (specifically core muscles) than bilateral exercises. The abs and lower back are more engaged in single-leg exercises to help the body maintain balance.
Add this lower body workout to your home workout plan 1-2 times a week to build and maintain strength in the lower body.
Medium Set of Dumbbells.
I recommend between 5-25 lbs depending on your fitness level. We used 10, 15 and 20 lb dumbbells in today’s workout. Option to drop weights at any time and do this workout with just your bodyweight.
You’ll also have the opportunity to add a yoga block (or stack of books) and a step/bench if you choose.
Follow along with the guided Unilateral Leg Day on YouTube, led by certified personal trainer, Lindsey Bomgren.
Your Workout Looks Like This:
Burnout: Front Foot Elevated Lunge Hold and Explosive Knee Drive
Burnout: Uneven Suitcase Swing
Burnout: Kneeling Hip Thrust + Adductor Kickout
Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, and core.
Modification: Keep both heels on the ground, 80% of the work in your “working leg”, using your other toe as a kick stand. Hold one dumbbell at your chest in a goblet-hold or use just your bodyweight.
Targets: The glutes (outer gluteus medius), quads (including the VMO, the small teardrop-shaped muscle group that helps move the knee joint and stabilizes the kneecap) and core.
Modification: Perform this move with both heels on the floor rather than adding a yoga block.
Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, hamstrings hips and core.
This single leg exercise will challenge your balance and has been named one of the best exercises to build glute strength.
Modification: Perform a standard reverse lunge or split squat, keeping your back foot on the ground rather than elevating it on a chair.
Targets: Hamstrings, core and glutes.
Modification: Perform a staggered deadlift from the ground, keeping 80% of your weight in your front heel and 20% in your back toe.
Targets: Gluteus medius (the outer part of your butt used for side-to-side movements), quads, hamstrings, hip adductors and abductors, hip flexors, calves and core.
Modification: Drop the weight, performing this move with just your bodyweight. Tap your right foot in rather than balance.
Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, hips and pelvic floor.
Modification: Perform a staggered stance glute bridge by planting your left heel and stepping your right foot out slightly further away from your body. Keep most of your weight in your left heel, right toes popped off the ground.
We were so excited to have Dr. Taylor Spronk join us for today’s workout – she is a wealth of knowledge and we learned so much from her! Dr. Taylor is a veterinarian (and a former MN Pork intern) who works with farmers daily.
We love pork around here because it’s the basis of so many easy and healthy meals. Our family-favorite Smoked Pork Butt Recipe from The Real Food Dietitians (pictured above) has been on repeat lately! Stir frys, kebabs, tenderloin roasts and carnitas – pork pairs so well with many different flavor profiles.
Pork is also an excellent source of protein and provides several important vitamins and minerals. A 3-ounce serving of pork is an excellent source of:
SHOPPING TIP: Dr. Taylor recommends looking for pork tenderloin at the store – it is considered “extra lean” and has the same amount of fat as skinless chicken breast.
One of my favorite things about pork is how simple it is to cook. The secret to keeping pork juicy and delicious is to avoid overcooking it – a little pink in the middle is okay! You can take all the guesswork out by purchasing a meat thermometer, which makes it even easier!
And then enjoy!
This is a sponsored post in partnership with the Minnesota Pork Board. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Nourish Move Love, making the content you see on this blog possible.
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I love that you are focusing more on strength. Most of 3 and recently postpartum and diagnosed with hypothyroidism- So I have to watch my cortisol spikes so I can’t thank your workouts enough. Found you during Covid and never want to leave!
Samantha! So glad you’re loving the strength workouts — I’m definitely in a season where strength training is my focus and sounds like you are too! So glad you found our workouts and stay tuned we have A LOT more strength workouts coming! Praying you’re able to balance out your hypothyroidism — thyroid issues are never fun. Keep up the great work mama! -Lindsey
Hi I’m new ! Love these workout ! Definately will do for now ! Build strong . Thanks !
Millie! So glad you’re loving the workouts! Keep up the great work and keep coming back for more! -Lindsey
I absolutely loved every exercise in this workout. Circuit 2 was especially spicy! I really appreciate the effort you put in all your workouts. I have been doing them exclusively for months now and I love the changes I am seeing. Thank you so much!!
Fatma! I’m so glad you loved this workout! And I hear you on circuit 2 — it was 🔥 ! I’m so glad you’re loving the workouts AND seeing results! I hope you keep coming back for more! -Lindsey
This workout is SO GOOD! I did it this morning, and I’m already sore this evening.
Corinne! So glad you loved this workout as much as I did…it left me sore for a couple days! Nice work and I hope you come back for more! -Lindsey
Loved this new workout. Holy bananas I am going to be sore! Definitely need Dr Taylor back!
Leigh! Nice work on the workout!! And yes, I was sore for 3 days after this one. Stay tuned we brought Dr. Taylor back for an arm workout coming soon!! -Lindsey
I found you during COVID and will never leave you. You are so dedicated and so much energy . I do especially love these strength training. Take care of yourself and thank you
Fran! So glad you found our workouts and are loving them! We have a lot more strength workings coming so stay tuned! Thanks for following along and keep up the great work! -Lindsey
Another fantastic NML workout! Definitely shaky legs feeling with the supersets – very challenging. Great energy from all three of you! Thanks and keep up the great work!
Sarah! So glad you enjoyed this workout — and yes those single leg exercises are challenging! Thanks for giving this workout a try and I hope you come back for more! -Lindsey