Single leg training has become more popular in the recent years as a way to compliment bilateral leg training and in some instances replace it. Single leg training use to be thought of as inferior to its bilateral leg training counterpart. This was assumed for some basic logistical reasons such as you can lift more weight if you are two legs instead of one. This seems to make sense when you take it at face value. If you are on both legs you will be able to lift more weight and therefore get stronger. The problem arises when we lose sight of what these athletes are training for….to be better at their sport! When we play sport we are constantly on a single leg unless we are not part of the play. There are very few examples when you are on both legs with your body weight distributed evenly between both legs. Do not take this the wrong way, this is not an argument to get rid of bilateral leg training, it is an argument for including it along side our bilateral leg training. Bilateral leg training will never go away, nor should it. It is extremely effective at building strength, speed and power. Let’s make sure we add some single leg training to our programs.
I mentioned before how sport is being played on a single leg. If you are moving, both feet are never planted at the same time. Athletes should therefore train on a single leg. There are many different single training exercises that are great at building a top level athlete. Below you will find a few that I really enjoy doing.
1. Dumbbell Forward Lunge – to perform the dumbbell forward lunge take a big enough step out that your front and back leg will form a “L”. Make sure that you get your front heel on the ground when you step forward and drive through it to stand back up. The upper body should remain upright throughout the exercise.
2. Barbell Single Leg Romanian Deadlift – to perform the barbell single leg Romanian deadlift begin by bending your knee and hinging your hips. The leg coming off the ground should come up at the same rate the upper body is dropping towards the ground. Continue to push the leg up and back until it becomes parallel to the ground. To return to the standing position drive through your heel and extended your hips.
3. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat – to perform the rear foot elevated split squat elevate one foot onto a bench or box. Descend until the back knee brushes the ground (No bouncing!). Drive through your heel to return to the starting position.
4. Single Leg Squat w/ Box – to perform the single leg squat on a box first choose a light weight for a counter balance, especially when starting this exercise for the first time. Descend until your hips at least pass parallel then drive through the box to return to the top. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise.
5. Lateral Lunge w/ Slideboard – to perform the lateral lunge on the slideboard (sb) start with one foot off the sb and one on the sb in contact with one of the booties. Begin by bending your knee and pushing your hips back. As you put your hip into abduction make sure to go under control then return to the standing position.
These exercises will add strength that will translate to improved performance on the field or court!
SPU's Alex Drayson and Matt Migiano write the SPU Athletic Performance Blog.
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