Think of your body's muscles like the anatomy of a car. The wheels and lights on both sides need to work properly in order to drive safely and efficiently. In the same way, if you experience pain or injury on one side of the body, it's a sign you aren't moving to the best of your abilities and might have muscle imbalances.
Unilateral exercises help correct muscle imbalances by isolating one side of the body, ensuring both parts are moving with equal strength. One easy way to make sure you're working with matched power in your lower body is to do single-leg, glute exercises. By engaging your glutes through unilateral activation, it will help you strengthen both sides of your body evenly.
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Here's a 20-minute, single-leg butt workout to help you shrink the gap between the weaker and strong sides of your lower body and increase hip stability.
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Move 1: Single-Leg Glute Bridge
- Lie face-up on an exercise mat with your hands by your sides and one knee bent, foot flat on the ground. Extend the opposite leg straight in the air and flex your foot. Make sure your foot is directly below your knee and shoulder-width apart from the other knee.
- Lift your hips and lower back off the ground until they form a straight line with your torso. Keep your abdominals and glutes tight throughout the movement.
- Hold the bridge at the top of the movement for a second, then slowly come back down to the starting position.
- Repeat the exercise on the opposite leg, alternating for 12 to 15 reps.
Move 2: Glute Bridge March
- Lie face-up on an exercise mat with your hands by your sides and knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Make sure your feet are under your knees and shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your core and glutes tight, lift your hips and lower back off the ground until they form a straight line with your torso.
- From this position, lift one foot off the ground, about 6 inches off the mat, while keeping your hips raised and your foot flexed.
- Bring your foot back down to the ground, followed by your hips and lower back. This is one rep.
- Complete 12 to 15 reps, alternating legs.
Move 3: Squat Twist
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out. Keep your hands on your hips or clasped together in front of your chest.
- Keeping your gaze forward and core tight, hinge your hips back into a squat until your thighs are parallel with the ground (or as low as you can comfortably go).
- Press your heels into the ground as you come up to stand. As you stand back up, lift one knee toward your chest while twisting your torso toward the same direction. Bring your opposite elbow and knee to touch in the air.
- Hold this position for a second before returning to the starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite leg, alternating for 12 to 15 reps.
Move 4: Speed Skater
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out. Keep your hands loosely by your sides.
- Hop to the right side, landing with your right foot firmly on the ground and your left foot crossed behind your right leg. Bend over and reach your left hand toward your right foot.
- Hold this position for a second, then hop to the left side and land with your left foot on the ground, crossing your right leg behind your left. Bend over a reach your right hand toward your left foot.
- Continue alternating legs for 12 to 15 reps.
If you have limited mobility and are unable to bend over and touch the ground with your hand, come down as far as you feel comfortable.
Move 5: Single-Leg Deadlift
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and facing forward.
- Balancing on your right leg with your knee slightly bent, engage your core and hinge your hips back until your torso is parallel with the ground and your right hand is reaching toward the ground. Extend your left leg behind you. Be sure to keep your back flat the entire time.
- Hold this position for a second, then squeeze your glutes to slowly come back to the starting position before repeating the movement on the opposite leg.
- Aim for 12 to 15 reps.
This is an advanced exercise that requires a great deal of balance and core stability. To help you stabilize, start off by holding onto a chair or table while doing the movement. Come down as far as you feel comfortable until you can bring your torso parallel to the ground.