Here is an exercise, the single-leg bench squat, that not only do I as a personal trainer have my clients do, but it’s a great “finisher” for my own leg session.
Sit on a weightlifting bench, right foot flat on the floor. Place left foot above right knee (cross your leg). Hands off the bench, rise to a standing position off of the right foot, while keeping the left foot against the area above the right knee. Gain control of your standing position before sitting back down.
And do just that: sit back down; don’t sloppily plop down. Do not allow the right foot to move! Keep it flat on the floor at all times. If you allow this support foot to come off the floor at any time, this is cheating. It stays fixed in place, as though bolted into the floor.
The move just described is difficult for most experienced trainees. You may be able to squat 315 and play a mean game of basketball, yet may struggle quite a bit with this seemingly simple move.
The goal is to do this 12 to 20 times in a row, without teetering over and having to grab the bench with a hand. Then switch legs. Remember, the support foot never leaves the floor; it stays flat.
Furthermore, minimize rocking back as you sit back down. Because if you rock back, then you’ll be rocking forward as you rise, and this momentum is a cheat move.
Hands can be anywhere but holding onto something for support. As you get better, hold a weight plate or single dumbbell in both hands at your chest. Or hold a light dumbbell in each hand.
And what’s the purpose of this exercise, especially if you’re squatting 225 for 12 reps or run five miles at a time? This exercise activates a unique pattern of neuromuscular recruitment. It improves balance, strengthens the ankles and knees, and targets the low back in a way that squats don’t, especially when you add hand weights.