Six Unilateral Dumbbell Leg Exercises To Build Lower Body Strength

Six Unilateral Dumbbell Leg Exercises To Build Lower Body Strength

Unilateral exercises are a great tool to add to your sessions aimed at building leg strength.

A unilateral lift is a lift using just one limb, and they work as a great complement to heavier lifts like barbell squats or deadlifts.

Training one leg at a time will help correct imbalances that develop through the overuse of one side. Most athletes form some sort of imbalance over time, even if they aren’t aware of it.

Try using dumbbells to complete some of these unilateral exercises and see if your overall lower-body strength improves.

Single-Leg Explosive Step-Up

Stand with your left leg on a box that is roughly knee-high. Drive your right leg upwards in a running motion until it reaches about a 90-degree angle. At the same time, extend through your left leg so that it straightens and hops off the box.

Bulgarian Split Squat

Rest one foot on a step or box about knee-high and get into a forward lunge position. Keep your knee over the top of your ankle as you squat down and drive back up through your heel.

Single-Leg Glute Bridge

For those who spend most of the day sitting behind a desk, the glute muscles can become switched off and need to be activated. Performing single-leg glute bridges can help to activate the muscles around the hips and knees. Add resistance by taking one dumbbell and balancing it on your pelvis, using your hands to lightly keep it in place.

Walking Lunges

Balance is key when you add dumbbells to a walking lunge, so this one is good for building core stability too. Stand with dumbbells held in either hand by your sides, and lunge forward alternating each leg for around 20 metres.

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts

Standing on one leg, bend forward from the hip and bend your support knee slightly. Use the dumbbells as a counterweight, stretching them down towards the floor. You’ll feel a slight stretch in the hamstring.

Eccentric Calf Raises

Eccentric calf raises are particularly helpful for strengthening the Achilles tendon, which can cause long-term injuries if weak or vulnerable. Stand on one leg on a step and lower your heel below your toes. Hold for two seconds and return to the starting position.