at Home with Exercises

These progressive strength exercises are perfect for a small-space workout, and they give you something to work toward. For example, you may begin your home workouts at the beginner level and set a goal to work up to the advanced level in a set timeframe, say within a month. Setting goals and working to achieve them is an important part of staying busy and focused in stressful and uncertain times.

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Progressive Strength Exercises

Squat Progression

Single-Leg Squat (Beginner)

Hold onto the back of a chair for support and stability and squat with one leg out in front of you. Go down as far as you feel comfortable while keeping the knee of your grounded leg directly over your toe. Repeat with the other leg.

Split Squat (Intermediate)

Stand tall and step one leg behind you onto the ball of that foot (heel in the air). Maintain a tall posture as you bend your back knee as low as you can, ideally taking that knee all the way to the floor. You do not need a chair for this one. Repeat several times on each side.

Bulgarian Split Squat (Advanced)

Stand with your back facing the front of a chair. Step back with one leg and place the top of your foot on the seat of the chair. Stand far enough away that your leg is outstretched behind you. Bend the knee of your grounded leg and drop the knee of your elevated leg down as far as you can, ideally to the floor. Try to keep your posture tall and in line with your hips as you repeat several times on each side.

Deadlift Progression

Bent Knee Deadlift (Beginner)

Soften your knees slightly with feet shoulder-width apart and bend at the waist. Bend until your torso is parallel to the floor, return to standing tall, and go back and forth a few times. If you have a long pole-like object (a yardstick would do), hold it behind your back while you do this, making sure it remains in contact with your head, spine, and tailbone throughout the exercise. If it does remain in contact, you are maintaining proper posture throughout the exercise.

Single-Leg Deadlift (Intermediate)

While bending at the waist, hinge at the hip and lift one leg up behind you until your torso and the lifted leg are parallel to the floor. The knee of your grounded leg should remain slightly bent. Try to keep a flat back and keep your hips square to avoid your raised hip from rolling up. Like in the bent knee deadlift, you can use a pole or yardstick here to check your posture. Place the pole on top of the foot that you plan to lift behind you and hold the pole with the hand on that side. If you have the correct posture, the pole should remain on your foot and be perfectly parallel to the ground when you are bent. Repeat a few times on each side.

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (Advanced)

Perform the same action as the single-leg deadlift without a pole or partner to assist you. For those who have mastered this exercise, the next progression is to complete it while holding dumbbells. The final progression would be to complete this exercise using barbells. Please remain focused and safe if incorporating weights into this progression, as that addition will make these exercises significantly more difficult. This exercise will work your glutes and hamstrings. Be sure to repeat several times on each side.

Our progressive strength exercises do not require any equipment or assistance. However, you may choose to have a partner help steady you, use a pole/yardstick to measure posture or incorporate weights into these exercises. If you’d like to see these exercises in action, please view the videos on this page.

Click here to view Stay Active at Home with Stretches from Sports Performance. Click here to view Stay Active at Home with Warmups from Sports Performance.

To schedule an appointment with Sports Performance at UPMC Sports Medicine, please call 1-855-93-SPORT (77678). For more information, visit

About Sports Medicine

Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.