Sometimes, it’s nice to change it up a bit and add more challenge to your overall lower body training. While we certainly love our traditional deadlifts and squats, it serves as a good idea to think outside the box with creativity to impose a novel stimulus on the lower body muscles.


Here are some unique lower body exercises that you can pepper in from time to time that will help to strengthen your hips, knees, quads, hamstrings, and groin (adductor) muscles.


#1 - KB Double Dead Stop 1-Leg RDL



How to perform:

  • 5-second eccentric: lower down for 5 seconds
  • 1st Dead Stop (5-second isometric): hold at the bottom with KB hovering 1-inch off the floor for 5 seconds
  • 2nd Dead Stop (2-second isometric): rest KB on the floor and hold that bottom position with bodyweight only for 2 seconds

Primary benefits:

  • Single leg strength and stability
  • Balance, proprioception, and coordination
  • Grooving the single leg hip hinge pattern
  • Ironing out strength discrepancies between legs
  • Building hamstring & glute muscle mass via greater time under tension
  • Forging hamstring durability from an injury reduction standpoint
  • Dialing in anti-rotation trunk stability and grip strength


#2 - Kang Squat

The Kang Squat is essentially a combination of two lower body movements: good morning + squat. It's a great way to target the lower body muscles.

You can use the Kang Squat in your warm-up, which helps to prepare the hamstrings and quads. It doesn't hurt that you're grooving both the hip hinge and squat pattern either, which can certainly bump your overall volume. In turn, this volume of grooving both patterns will increase your skills in performing each hip hinge-based and squat-based lift.

Here are 2 Kang Squat warm-up variations:

  1. Prisoner Kang Squat

  1. Medicine Ball Hug Kang Squat



This exercise is also great for loading in your overall training program since it targets strengthening of the hamstrings, back, quads, and glutes all in one move. Select a weight that allows you to perform each segment of the Kang Squat with precision and form. Don't rush this movement; the benefit is in the controlled tempo.

Here are 4 Kang Squat training variations:

1. DB Kang Squat

  1. KB Kang Squat


  2. Sandbag Kang Squat
  1. Barbell Kang Squat


#3 - DB Prone Hamstring Curl

This is your go-to if you only have access to one dumbbell and looking to build hamstring strength. Minimal equipment but the challenge is certainly harder than it looks.

The added bonus here is that these two prone curl exercises target more than just the hamstring muscles. You'll get some adductor (groin) muscle strength packed in as well.

Start with the floor version first, and then advance to the bench option. They're both fun in their own way. Trust me, you don't have to go that heavy to feel the hammies working here, either!

You’ll notice an Airex pad (or two) underneath my stomach on both variations. That’s to help keep your spine in a neutral position and to decrease low back muscle (spinal erector) activation so that the hamstrings can be the life of the party.

Progression list:

1. DB Floor Prone Hamstring Curl

  1. DB Bench Prone Hamstring Curl



#4 - Dead Stop Split Squat

This is a great option for athletes looking to get a bit more out of the traditional split squat exercise. It's certainly a bump in the challenge from the typical set-up.

I like this dead stop variation of the split squat movement pattern since it challenges you MOST at the bottom. The bottom of the split squat is where most folks either bounce off the floor upon contact, avoid getting low enough to challenge the leg muscles, or simply lack stability and control.

Start with the large KB version first, and then advance to the DB option. The large KB is perfect for this exercise since it allows you to remain tall through the trunk. However, the DB variation forces your lateral trunk muscles to become a bit more involved when you ascend from the bottom.

Progression list:

1. KB Dead Stop 1-Arm Offset Split Squat

  1. DB Dead Stop 1-Arm Offset Split Squat


#5 - DB 1-Arm Offset Wall Lean Curtsy Lunge


Here is a great exercise option to add into your lower body training day for several reasons. The set-up is quite unique, but it definitely packs a punch and will help to strengthen your legs!



Reasons you should give it a shot:

  1. Targets the medial (inside aspect) of your quadriceps and knee joint, which are often difficult areas to address.
  2. Provides less support from the assisting leg than the typical curtsy lunge set-up, which makes it more challenging.
  3. Promotes single leg strength and stability.
  4. Incorporates anti-rotation trunk stability from the 1-arm offset hold; more bang for your buck!
  5. Challenges your ability to maintain full-body tension against the wall.

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Matthew Ibrahim

Matthew Ibrahim is the Co-Owner, Director of Strength & Conditioning and Internship Coordinator at TD Athletes Edge in Salem, MA. Throughout his career, Matthew has been an invited guest speaker nationally in over 10 U.S. states, which was highlighted by his presentations at Google Headquarters, Stanford University, Equinox, Lululemon and Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning, in addition to guest speaking internationally in Milan, Italy. He has also been an invited guest speaker by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) at the regional conference level and at the state clinic level. His professional work has been featured in some of the world’s largest publications, such as Men's Health, Men’s Fitness and STACK Media. Currently, he is a PhD student at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in the Human and Sport Performance program. Matthew also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Exercise Science at Endicott College and an Adjunct Professor of Exercise Science at Maryville University.

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