"Single leg work hurts my lower back."

I hear that all the time from new athletes. Most lower back pain can be attributed to two factors:

  1. A lack of stability through the lumbo-pelvic complex.
  2. A lack of hip mobility.

So why not bring up both of these common deficits with this one exercise? It's important if you have motor control or balance issues.

The Test

Test your hip and core stability with only one foot on the ground, and the raised knee and hip bent to 90-degrees. If you can't hold this position for 30 seconds without losing balance and having to touch down, start doing single leg movements like this one.

It'll help you get strong and coordinated in single leg stance, and train you to stabilize and brace properly through the lower body and core. This will greatly transfer to your big lifts and keep you healthy in the long run.

How To Do This Exercise

  1. Start this movement by getting into that 90-90 position with one leg. You'll notice that the heavier you load this exercise with dumbbells, the more challenging it'll be to maintain stability.
  2. Pause for a full second at the top to tap into that lateral hip stability and glute activation, then drive that leg back behind into a reverse lunge. The back knee should graze the ground while your torso angle is positioned slightly forward to bias the posterior chain stability.
  3. From this bottom position, explosively drive back up into the original starting 90-90 position, leading with your hip flexors on the dynamic leg.
  4. Do this exercise in non-alternating fashion between 6-8 reps per side.

Remember, the goal is to tap into your CNS and gain stability in the single leg stance, so keep your rhythm and tempo of the movement on point. This exercise can make your heart rate sky-rocket. It'll smoke you without a ton of weight.

Related:  The 4 Mandatory One-Legged Exercises

Related:  The Leaning Lunge for a Stronger Butt