From walking to running to climbing up stairs, a variety of things happen with one foot. It’s why it’s beneficial to include single-leg workouts in your routine of exercise, particularly in the case of balanced, functional strength.

Single-leg exercises are vital to getting there, Ava Fagin, CSCS and athletic performance trainer of Cleveland State University, tells the magazine SELF.

Also called unilateral exercises, single-leg exercises are movements that are performed with the strength of just one leg. Compared to bilateral exercises (like a squat or deadlift) that require both legs to be working simultaneously, single-leg exercises (like a lunge or split squat) demand more balance and stability. They also, like we mentioned, more closely mimic everyday life, which makes them a super-important, functional component of pretty much any exercise routine.

Ahead, everything you need to know about single-leg exercises, including their benefits, how to work them into your strength training routine, and what to do if you notice a strength imbalance between legs—which, we’d just like to point out, is completely normal! We also rounded up 11 great single-leg exercises that you can try out in your own workout program.

Why is single-leg exercise so crucial?

Single-leg exercises can be very beneficial. They are because they closely mirror your daily routine (and many sports as well) that means doing regularly single-leg exercise will help you improve your performance and also with less risk of injury numerous situations.

Single-leg exercises require stability and balance, which results in core involvement because your core muscles are crucial in keeping you upright and avoiding tipping over to the side or sliding over. Therefore, while single-leg exercises mostly target the lower part of your body, they offer a sneaky workout for your abs as well as your core muscles too.

Another advantage of exercises with a single leg is that they allow you to detect imbalances that occur between the sides. Most people have imbalances in strength between our legs. This means one leg is more powerful in comparison to the opposite, as per Fagin. While these imbalances happen naturally, it’s an excellent idea to try to improve these since large differences in strength on either side could lead to injuries. This is because the side that is stronger may overcompensate for the weaker side , and result in being under too much strain.

A way to effectively tackle imbalances? Yes, you read that right one-leg exercises. “Single-leg exercises actually allow us to level things out,” says Fagin. (More about how precisely, they accomplish this in the next minute.)

What can you do to incorporate single-leg exercises to improve your fitness routine?

Fagin recommends incorporating single-leg exercises along with bilateral exercises each time you lift weights, or engage in other forms of resistance-training. “I would prefer to err on one side of strengthening my legs whenever you can.” the trainer says.

In a routine of five lower-body exercises, as an example, Fagin suggests doing three single-leg and two bilateral exercises due to the fact that “single leg exercises are essential,” she says. But that bilateral exercises, such as deadlifts and squats, are also important and that’s why it’s not a good idea to do the majority of the time performing one-leg exercises. Like many other aspects of fitness (and life! ) Balance is the key.