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Essential single leg exercises

Single-leg exercise are crucially important to hockey players and should be included in any off-season or in-season workout plan. Here are a few of my favorite single-leg exercises and should be included your workout plans. Below is the exercise with written instruction on how to perform. As always if you have any questions please feel free to reach at

1. Single-Leg Bulgarian Split Squat

This is one of the best exercises for hockey players or any athlete that requires explosive power out of their legs. The Bulgarian split squat is a great single-leg exercise, because it incorporates strength, balance and stability necessary for movements in sports. By having your rear foot elevated, you increase the difficulty and further the need for muscle recruitment.

How to Perform:

Stand with your back to a bench or box that is knee-high.

Get into a split squat position with your back foot on top of the bench or box.

Keeping your knee and toe straight and your back upright, squat down in a slow and controlled motion until just before your knee touches the ground.

Using your weight-bearing leg (not your elevated leg), push yourself back up to the starting position.When you are squatting, make sure your knee does not extend over your toe.

If it does, lengthen your stance.

To increase the difficulty, hold a pair of dumbbells, a weight plate or an EZ bar—or wear a weight vest.

Perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions on each leg.

2. Single-Leg Stability Ball Leg Curl

The Stability Ball Leg Curl is an excellent lower-body exercise that increases strength and stability in your glutes, hamstrings and lower back. It is especially good for fixing muscle imbalance-prone athletes who are quadricep dominant, such as soccer players and sprinters.

How to Perform: 

Lie on your back with your hands spread out to the side, palms face down.

Put one leg straight on top of a stability ball on your lower calf, near your Achilles.

Bend the other leg and bring it toward your chest.

Bridge up using the leg on the stability ball while simultaneously curling it toward your butt in a slow and controlled motion.

Once the ball reaches your butt, extend your leg back to the starting position.

Make sure you are squeezing your glutes and keeping your hips elevated throughout the motion.

Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions on each leg.

3. Single-Leg Box Jump

The Single-Leg Box Jump builds explosive power individually in each leg. This is especially important because most jumping motions in sports are off one leg, such as a long jumper in track or a basketball player going up for a layup.

How to Perform:

Place a shin- or knee-high plyometric box, bench or step-up board in front of you.

Lift one foot off the floor while balancing on the other, making sure your foot and knee are straight.

Partially squat down, then forcefully jump up onto the box making sure to drive through your hips and swing your arms for momentum.

Land softly on the box in a partial squat position, then stand fully upright.

Step back down to the floor to the starting position.

Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.

4. Single-Leg RDL

This exercise helps build stability and flexibility in the hips, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. It is all about balance and resistance while in motion, similar to what occurs during a hockey game.

How to Perform: 

Grab a light to moderately heavy dumbbell or kettlebell.

Lift one foot off the floor while balancing on the other, making sure your knee and toe are straight.With a slight bend in your weight-bearing knee, bend forward at the waist, hinging your hips with your chest out and back straight.

Once you are parallel to the floor, extend your hips and lower back until you are upright and at the starting position.

That is one repetition.

Perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions on each leg.

5. Single-Leg Slide Board Reverse Lunge

As mentioned above with the Bulgarian Split Squat, athletes should focus on using their weight-bearing leg to Squat, with as little assistance as possible from their back leg; the slide board is the perfect tool because it forces you to do just that.

How to Perform:

Stand in front of a slide board with your back toward the board.

Place your leading or weight-bearing leg off the board and your lagging leg on the board.

Keeping your back, knee and toe of your weight-bearing leg straight, perform a Reverse Lunge by sliding your back leg until your knee almost touches the ground.

Drive through your hips and quadriceps of your leading leg to return to the starting upright position.

Make sure your knee does not extend over your toe, and do not overextend or stretch your back leg.Increase the difficulty by adding dumbbells, weight plate, weight vest, or EZ bar.

Perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions on each leg.

6. Single-Leg BOSU Ball Glute Bridge

This exercise is similar to the Stability Ball Leg Curl, but it incorporates some isometric (non-moving) holds that cause your muscles to work harder to adjust, especially when fatigued.

How to Perform:

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your heels close to your butt but still flat on the floor.

Place one foot on top of the round side of a BOSU ball.

Extend the other leg next to it on the floor.

Perform a bridge, making sure to drive through your hips, extend your lower back and activate your glutes.

Keeping your straight leg off the floor and in the air, hold that position for 10 seconds, then lower your butt back down to the staring position.

That is a single repetition.

As soon as your butt touches the floor, immediately transition into your next repetition.

Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.

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