Zercher Bulgarian Split Squat

The Zercher squat is a beginner-friendly loaded squat that’s basically like a goblet squat without your hands. It’s way easier to hold onto the barbell in the crook of your elbows, trust me. The position of the bar also helps you maintain a strong upper back and abdominal engagement.

Bulgarian split squats… are nice, too, I suppose.

But believe it or not, these feel more stable than BSS with dumbbells or kettlebells. The length of the barbell and position of it across the front of your body prevents rotation, which is where most people blow exercises like these all to hell.

DB Crossover Step Up

The crossover step up is an excellent way to work balance, hip external rotation, and mobility for the ankle, knee, and hip. It essentially combines a curtsy lunge and step up. By keeping my back leg up against the box, I’m able to make sure that my legs are in line with one another. I also like to rotate the hip on that side into the dumbbell to remind myself not to twist back on the descent.

Landmine Reverse Nordic Curl

This is a very knee-friendly quad exercise that allows you to load your quads eccentrically (i.e. in a stretch). Known as the aptly named Thigh Stretch in Pilates, you must be able to keep your body stacked throughout, making it a particularly tough core exercise, too. Start with bodyweight and work your way up slowly!

TRX Copenhagen

Copenhagen planks are an advanced version of side planks that put a lot of emphasis on adductor and groin muscles as well as obliques. I love the TRX version because you really have to squeeze the belly of your inner thigh muscles together to prevent yourself from rotating (and potentially falling to your death). It can be tricky to get into on the TRX, but just remember top leg is forward of bottom leg and you should actively press your back toe into your front heel.

KB Jefferson Deadlift

Jefferson deadlifts are one of the weirdest exercises you’ll ever do, but nothing on this list comes close to what these can do for your back and hips as well as your deadlift performance. It will strengthen your posterior chain and uniquely have your body in a transverse plane (i.e. rotated). Make these a regular part of your routine and your deadlift will improve greatly.

Cable SL RDL

The single-leg Romanian deadlift is one of those things my hips really really need me to do all the damn time. And when I was first demonstrating this exercise the other day, I realized that it wasn’t enough to do them all the time; I need to mix it up because our bodies are so good at learning (yayyyy) and therefore so good at memorizing how to accomplish a task. Yes, it’s an adaptation, but this is also why we have to throw new stimuli into the mix once in awhile. Single-leg movements in general force me to stabilize by rooting my feet firmly. I was surprised by how hard it was with the cable! I had to have it totally locked in or I could not keep my balance. When I finally figured it out, I loved how deeply I was able to work my hammies and lower glutes especially because of how it pulled me forward.

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