Never underestimate the fat-burning potential of one-leg work. Unilateral leg routines, when done the right way, will burn a lot of calories.

So Here They Are

The following one-leg exercises will help you burn fat.

Fat burning box step-up

If the box is high enough, beginners will struggle with balance. Now, when I say “beginners,” this doesn’t necessarily mean someone who’s never before exercised.

A person who’s been back squatting hundreds of pounds for years, and conventionally deadlifting the same, may find it quite challenging to place a foot on a medium height exercise stool and power up into an erect position without the other foot making contact with the stool, then lowering with control to the start position-except that the non-support foot is not permitted to touch the floor.

From this position (non-support foot hovering just above the floor), power back up into an erect posture, meaning, you’re fully standing on one foot at the top, rather than cheating by not straightening the back once you step up. Do eight reps of this fat-burning exercise.

To make this more doable, let the non-support foot lightly tap the floor after each rep. A very high stool, or the use of dumbbells or a barbell across the back, will add plenty of resistance.

Fat burning lunge step

This may sound easy as far as execution, but some experienced people will stumble at first with just bodyweight. Stand before a 12 inch stool. Place right foot on stool, left foot (ball) on floor.

Quickly switch feet, all in one motion (scissors style), so that the left foot is on the stool, right foot making contact with floor.

However, the next switch must occur immediately after, so that whichever foot is on the floor is there for only fractions of a second.

The objective is to switch as rapidly as possible. If the motion looks like you’re quickly stepping, you’re not switching correctly. The switch must be done all in one motion.

The switching can be done from the bottom or from the top. If from the bottom, the leg that makes contact with the stool never extends.

If from the top, each step on the stool takes you into full leg extension so that you’re over the stool.

If working from the top, you can increase intensity by adding a vertical thrust with each switch.

Variations: High stool for increased quad and glute activation; low stool with dumbbells or KBs.

If you can’t scissor-switch while holding dumbbells (you’re stepping instead), the weights are too heavy.

Do 12 to 20 reps (one rep = a switch of both feet). This is a big fat burner when done in between traditional weight lifting sets.

Fat-burning one-leg box squat

Even a trained person can initially be clumsy with this fat-burning move. It’s not a matter of strength; it’s a matter of neuromuscular coordination.

Sit on a box that’s low enough so that your knees are even with your hips; knees a little higher are okay, but they shouldn’t be lower.

Lift the left foot off the floor and keep it off while you stand up with only the right leg.

Go all the way to a full stand (erect posture, slight arch in lower back) before sitting back down (with control!). Then repeat.

This sounds easy. However, try eight of these while keeping that left foot flat on the floor, unmoving, at all times.

Many people find they need to left that support foot off the floor before every rise with the working leg.

Not only that, but they must rock back to get some momentum before rising. These two moves are cheating.

This exercise should be done without any rocking or lifting the support foot off the floor. If this exercise is easy, hold dumbbells or a single plate.

Increase difficulty by placing the free foot (fold leg) against the other leg above the knee; keep it there at all times. The one-leg box squat also targets the lower back.

These three one-leg exercises will contribute to a fat-burning regimen. For maximal burning of fat, modify these exercises so that they are DIFFICULT. For optimal burning of fat, make sure you don’t cheat!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.