Stepping to the side can move your workout forward. The single-leg lateral squat works muscles that other one-leg exercises neglect, and it will also improve your strength in the traditional squat, says Robert dos Remedios, author of Men’s Health Power Training.
This exercise is valuable because it forces you to control your body using one leg while you move in all three planes – side to side, up and down, and forward and backward. This improves rotational strength and flexibility in your hips and knees, says Dos Remedios. It also refines your balance and coordination and adds muscle.
How to do it
1. Stand on an 18-inch-high bench or box, with your left foot on the bench and your right foot dangling off the side. Your arms should be outstretched in front of your body.
2. While reaching forward with your arms, drop your right leg back across and behind your left leg as you try to lower the toes of your right foot all the way to the floor.
3. Using your left leg only, push your body back up to the starting position. Try to complete 6 to 8 repetitions on each side.
Our Expert’s Tips
1. If you have trouble, start on a lower step. A rule of thumb: Choose the highest platform that allows you to lightly touch your foot to the floor. Increase the height as you gain strength.
2. Amp it up by holding dumbbells at your sides as you perform the exercise.
3. Drive with your heel, not your toes, as you raise your body.