We're rolling with this countdown for 7 things that every athlete should do. In case you missed our previous posts you can check them out here;
Numbers 7&6) Deceleration and Squatting
Today we're discussing number 4; single leg work.
While often a lot different, a lot more excruciating, and a lot less popular than their hot counterparts squats and deadlifts, I argue that single leg work is just as, if not more important than the other bilateral stuff.
Don't misread me now, when it comes to building strength you'd be hard pressed to find more effective exercises than squats and deadlifts. But here are just a few of the advantages of single leg work.
- Increased stability
- Increased body awareness
- Increased safety when done right
- Improved speed (lateral and linear)
- Reduced risk of injury during competition
The increased stability comes from the mere fact that because you're on one leg you have less of a base of support. Improved stability means improved movement efficiency in athletic endeavors like sprinting and jumping.
Also, in order for an athlete to execute a single leg movement right they must have a solid understanding of their body, where it is in space, and how its moving. Otherwise they'll fall over or at least look like a weeble wobble.
However, that being said, because the athlete is on one leg, the weight is significantly reduced in order to allow them to perform the exercise with proper form. As a result there is less risk of injury during the exercise, and as the form improves so will their strength.
Of course most importantly is that these exercises, when executed properly, go a long way in reducing the risk of injury during competition.
Single leg exercises that I like a lot include
- Split Squats
- Bulgarian Split Squats
- Side Lunges
- Single Leg RDL
- Single Leg Sit to Stand
- Single Leg Hip Bridges
- Sled Drags
- Lateral Sled Drags
- Sled Marches
- Lateral Step Ups
- Step Ups
Typically I like to do them for sets between 3-5 and reps between 6-15. The heavier the weight the less sets and reps. Not always, but most the time.
Regardless of your sport you NEED to make single leg exercises a staple in your training.
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