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Single Leg Hops: How To Do, Benefits,…

There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about doing single leg hops, what will the effects be?

As the name implies, single leg hops are an exercise where you simply jump up and down on one leg.

The most common way to do this exercise is to do smaller jumps. This makes single leg hops more of a warmup, coordination, and balance exercise.

You can also go through your leg a relatively high amount and focus on jumping really high. Doing single leg hops this way makes it more of a plyometric leg exercise that engages your calves, quadriceps, and glutes a nice amount.

Whether you should add single leg hops and in what way to your routine depends on things like your personal situation, personal preference, and training goals.

How to do a single leg hop

If you want to do single leg hops in a way where you focus on jumping high you want to make sure your muscles are warmed up before doing the exercise. In this situation, a soft surface and shock-absorbing shoes can also be helpful.

To do the warmup version of a single leg hop take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet together.
  2. Raise one leg off the ground. Hold on to a sturdy object or use your arms for balance if needed.
  3. Jump up and down. Depending on what body parts you want to engage you can change what muscles you use. You can use your calves or quadriceps of the support leg or hip flexors of the leg in the air. Make sure your support leg is slightly less than stretched so it can fold a bit on impact.
  4. Repeat the same number of repetitions or time on the other leg.

Initially, you may have to get used to the balancing but this generally gets easier the more you do the exercise. Keep your upper body upright during the exercise.

How you want to land depends on what body parts you want to absorb the shock. As mentioned before, you generally want to at least fold your legs slightly so your knees don’t absorb all the weight.

If you want to focus on jumping higher you lower your hips a lot more.

How to do a single leg hop

Single leg hop exercise modifications

You can also make single leg hop modifications to make the exercise harder or focus more on different fitness components.

To ease into the movements and balance requirements of single leg hops you can do them slowly and while holding an object for balance. This will engage similar muscles, help you get used to the movement, train balance, and get your heart beating at least a little faster.

The second modification is simply doing single leg hops faster. This will allow you to train your cardiovascular system and muscles harder in a shorter amount of time. Do make sure you are familiar and comfortable with the movement before trying this out.

Next you can also focus on jumping higher. This will help you focus more on training your quadricep, calf, and glute muscles with a focus on muscle power.

In theory, you can also do single leg hops with weights in your hands or while wearing something like light ankle weights.

In practice, this can mess with your coordination when doing movements without these weights. Also keep in mind that this also makes the exercise harder on your body.

Single leg hops muscles worked

With any exercise you will almost always make a variety of different muscles work, especially with a compound exercise like single leg hops. Even so, there are a few muscles that will have to work the hardest for moving and keeping your body in position.

When doing low single leg hops with the power coming from your support leg you will mostly engage the calf and quadricep muscles of this leg. Your hip flexors in the other leg keep it in the air. If you use your arms to swing up this engages shoulder muscles.

A less typical way to achieve jump height is to swing up the secondary leg with enough power. This will engage the hip flexor muscles in this leg.

If you go through your knees to achieve higher jumps with single leg hops, you will mainly engage calf, quadricep, and glute muscles in an explosive way.

During all of these variations muscles like inner thighs, outer thighs/hips, core muscles, and erector spinae will help you balance and keep your back straight.

The warm up variations of single leg hops will work your muscles but likely not to the extent where you actually grow and strengthen these muscles.

The high jump variation can help you grow and strengthen the main muscles of the movement.

Single leg hops benefits

This exercise may not be the fastest way toward your fitness goals but adding single leg hops as a warmup before more intense workouts or as a balance and coordination exercise can offer you some helpful benefits. Some of the most important ones include:

  1. Injury prevention: Warming up your muscles with single leg hops before pushing them hard can help you reduce your injury risk. In turn this can save you weeks of not being able to train.
  2. Improved athletic performance: Warming up your muscles with single leg hops before they have to perform in a competition can make them work better (generate more power, work faster,…).
  3. Balance and coordination: Balance and coordination are fitness skills that can be improved by challenging them. Single leg hops can help you with this.
  4. No equipment or location required: Since single leg hops are a bodyweight exercise you don’t have to invest in equipment or be in a specific location.

While inevitably many workouts are better for some of these benefits than single leg hops, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine.

Potential risks

The main thing to keep in mind is that single leg hops can be hard on body parts like your ankles, knees, hips, and back, even if you implement the right technique.

If you are sensitive or weak in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any ankle or knee pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before implementing single leg hops into your workout routine.

If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that single leg hops are not (yet) for you.

Single leg hop alternatives

While single leg hops can definitely be a great addition to your workout routine, there are also some alternatives available for training similar aspects of your physical health. Some of these single leg hop alternatives include:

  • Power skips
  • High knees
  • Jogging
  • Balance board exercises
  • Squats
  • Agility ladder drills
  • Butt kicks

Which one of these options is the best depends on things like your personal situation, training goals, the equipment you have available, etc.

Conclusion

Many people will benefit from adding the low-jump single leg hops with the right technique to their routine as a warmup, balance, or coordination training exercise.

High-jump single leg hops could be suited for leg muscle growth, strength, and power progress.

For other fitness goals, other exercises are likely a better choice.

Remember is that single leg hops can be hard on body parts like your ankles, knees, hips, back, and shoulders, even if you implement the right technique.

If you are sensitive in these areas you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any ankle or knee pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before doing more single leg hops.

Also keep in mind that consistency is an important factor for any workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. If doing single leg hops is a workout you love, great. If not, other exercises can also offer a lot of benefits.

If you do decide to implement more single leg hops, make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles.

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Matt Claes

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.

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