Tag Archives: Bulgarian split squat

Improve Performance With Single-Leg Exercises

6 Oct

Bulgarian Split Squat (down)

Bulgarian Split Squat (up)

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we know it’s important to incorporate single-leg exercises into an athlete’s training regimen.  We alternate, weekly, between bilateral and unilateral exercises, to improve strength, power, mobility, and balance/stability.

A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that all athletes might need to do more single-leg exercises.  In the study, researchers discovered that both jumpers’ (e.g., basketball, volleyball) and nonjumpers’ legs were not equally strong.  The natural tendency is for athletes to shift their weight, to some degree, to their dominant leg.  According to the study, that contributes to a strength imbalance that can hurt performance and lead to injuries.

Try different single-leg exercises, like lunges (stationary or walking; forward, backward, or lateral).

At APTC, we favor the single-leg squatsingle-leg pressstep-up, and Bulgarian split squat (rear foot elevated).  Perform 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions with a weight that is challenging but reasonable.

As you might imagine, the same principle applies to upper-body strength training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Train on One Leg to Improve Strength and Balance

17 Oct

Dumbbell-Standing-Bulgarian-Split-Squat-622x485[1]I am an advocate of unilateral (single-leg) training exercises of the lower body (for that matter the upper body also).  When you consider the forces that athletes must overcome on one leg in stopping and starting it makes sense to train unilaterally.  That does not mean that bilateral exercises — like regular squats — are not part of the routine.  Unilateral exercises should be used to complement bilateral exercises, perhaps on an alternating, bi-weekly basis.  Unilateral exercises can not only improve strength, but also balance, stability, and injury risk reduction.

Here are some of the unilateral, lower-body exercises our athletes perform at Athletic Performance Training Center:

Single-Leg Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat (front-loaded, dumbbell, barbell)

Step-Up

Lunge (stationary, walking, reverse, lateral)

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

Single-Leg Squat Jump

Single-Leg Box Jump

You can further increase the degree-of-difficulty of some of these (non-impact) exercises by using an unstable surface, such as an Airex balance pad.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Your Speed and Agility with Jump Training

20 Apr

Lead%20Photo-1[1]Research has shown a definitive correlation between jumping ability and running performance, including speed and agility.  Generally, there is a stronger correlation based on the sprint distance.  The contribution of muscle power may be most important in shorter distance sprints (for example, 60, 100, and 200 meters), although middle- and long-distance running performance is positively impacted, as well.  Development of muscle power — via jump training — should be considered as  a component for training for most sports, including both sprinters and middle- and long-distance runners.

Running velocity, including the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction quickly, has been shown to be a function of force and power production.  The high-power output associated with jumping activities has led researchers to determine that jumping tests could be used as a  predictor of running performance.

Force and power are obvious components of running ability.  Maximal squat strength has been significantly correlated to sprint performance.  So, how do you incorporate strength and power training — including jump training — into your strength and conditioning regimen in a relevant way?

Strength Training

Before you start jump training, including plyometrics, you’ve got to be strong.  In order to be safe and effective, high-intensity power training requires adequate strength.  Bilateral, lower-body strength exercises like the squat, deadlift, and Romanian deadlift will help you build a strong foundation.  Unilateral exercises like the stepup and Bulgarian split squat are more functional, requiring strength and stability

Jump Training

Plyometrics are the most effective way to build lower-extremity power.  These exercises, done correctly, are designed to help you generate the greatest possible force in the shortest amount of time.  Jumping rope and jumping jacks are basic plyometric exercises, and a good place to start.  Once proficient at these exercises, you can progress to multiple, continuous box and hurdle jumps.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Contributing Factors to Change-of-Direction Ability

23 Nov

marshall_faulk[1]Regardless of the sport you play, strength and speed are “difference makers.”  And, although linear sprint speed is important, most athletes will need to change direction while moving at high-speed.

This is another area where strength training becomes important to the athlete’s development.

According to a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, “Change-of-direction ability… would be best improved through increases in an athlete’s strength and power while maintaining lean muscle mass.” (Delaney, et. al.)

Since change-of-direction ability is heavily dependent on relative strength and power, the development of these attributes through the core, hips, and lower extremities has a positive effect on change-of-direction (COD) performance.  Research shows a high correlation between 1-repetition maximum/body mass and COD in exercises like squats and deadlifts.

In addition to the squat and deadlift exercises, the leg press and split squat are also beneficial to the development of hip and leg drive.

Single-leg exercises, like the single-leg squat, step-up, and Bulgarian split squat, add an element of balance and stability to your lower-extremity strength development.

Plyometric exercises, like box jumps and depth jumps, can help you build explosive power, improving the amount of force you are able to generate against the ground.

Since long-term (>2 years) strength training improves COD performance, it is recommended as early as childhood and adolescence.  Consult with a knowledgeable, experienced strength and conditioning professional for guidance regarding an age-appropriate, well-designed, and well-supervised program.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Boost Strength, Speed, and Agility with This Move

13 Nov
Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat

The barbell squat is considered the gold standard of lower-body strength exercises, and deservedly so.

But, if you’re looking for some variety (and, even if you’re not), U.K. researchers found the the Bulgarian (rear-foot-elevated) Split Squat to be just as effective for increasing strength, speed, and agility.

This exercise can be performed as a body-weight movement, or weighted with dumbbells (pictured), kettlebells, a barbell, or a weight plate.

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a great exercise for anyone — regardless of strength training experience and proficiency — because it’s less technical and requires less mobility (than the barbell squat), making it safer.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand tall holding two dumbbells next to your sides
  • Place the top of your right foot on a bench behind you
  • Brace your core
  • Slowly lower your body as far as you can
  • Pause, and then quickly push back up to the starting position
  • Repeat for desired number of repetitions
  • Switch legs

Choose weight and repetitions according to your training goals.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Performance With Single-Leg Exercises

2 May
DSCN1897

Bulgarian split squat (up)

DSCN1898

Bulgarian split squat (down)

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we know it’s important to incorporate single-leg exercises into an athlete’s training regimen.  We alternate, weekly, between bilateral and unilateral exercises, to improve strength, power, mobility, and balance/stability.

A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that all athletes might need to do more single-leg exercises.  In the study, researchers discovered that both jumpers’ (e.g., basketball, volleyball) and nonjumpers’ legs were not equally strong.  The natural tendency is for athletes to shift their weight, to some degree, to their dominant leg.  According to the study, that contributes to a strength imbalance that can hurt performance and lead to injuries.

Try different single-leg exercises, like lunges (stationary or walking; forward, backward, or lateral).

At APTC, we favor the single-leg squat, single-leg press, step-up, and Bulgarian split squat (rear foot elevated).  Perform 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions with a weight that is challenging but reasonable.

As you might imagine, the same principle applies to upper-body strength training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Train on One Leg to Improve Strength and Balance

26 Jul

Dumbbell-Standing-Bulgarian-Split-Squat-622x485[1]I am an advocate of unilateral (single-leg) training exercises of the lower body (for that matter the upper body also).  When you consider the forces that athletes must overcome on one leg in stopping and starting it makes sense to train unilaterally.  That does not mean that bilateral exercises — like regular squats — are not part of the routine.  Unilateral exercises should be used to complement bilateral exercises, perhaps on an alternating, bi-weekly basis.  Unilateral exercises can not only improve strength, but also balance, stability, and injury risk reduction.

Here are some of the unilateral, lower-body exercises our athletes perform at Athletic Performance Training Center:

Single-Leg Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat (front-loaded, dumbbell, barbell)

Step-Up

Lunge (stationary, walking, reverse, lateral)

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

Single-Leg Squat Jump

Single-Leg Box Jump

You can further increase the degree-of-difficulty of some of these (non-impact) exercises by using an unstable surface, such as an Airex balance pad.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Your Speed and Agility with Jump Training

27 Mar

Lead%20Photo-1[1]Research has shown a definitive correlation between jumping ability and running performance, including speed and agility.  Generally, there is a stronger correlation based on the sprint distance.  The contribution of muscle power may be most important in shorter distance sprints (for example, 60, 100, and 200 meters), although middle- and long-distance running performance is positively impacted, as well.  Development of muscle power — via jump training — should be considered as  a component for training for most sports, including both sprinters and middle- and long-distance runners.

Running velocity, including the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction quickly, has been shown to be a function of force and power production.  The high-power output associated with jumping activities has led researchers to determine that jumping tests could be used as a  predictor of running performance.

Force and power are obvious components of running ability.  Maximal squat strength has been significantly correlated to sprint performance.  So, how do you incorporate strength and power training — including jump training — into your strength and conditioning regimen in a relevant way?

Strength Training

Before you start jump training, including plyometrics, you’ve got to be strong.  In order to be safe and effective, high-intensity power training requires adequate strength.  Bilateral, lower-body strength exercises like the squat, deadlift, and Romanian deadlift will help you build a strong foundation.  Unilateral exercises like the stepup and Bulgarian split squat are more functional, requiring strength and stability

Jump Training

Plyometrics are the most effective way to build lower-extremity power.  These exercises, done correctly, are designed to help you generate the greatest possible force in the shortest amount of time.  Jumping rope and jumping jacks are basic plyometric exercises, and a good place to start.  Once proficient at these exercises, you can progress to multiple, continuous box and hurdle jumps.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Avoid These 3 Overrated Exercises

16 Jan

qa-what-are-the-most-overrated-exercises1[1]Whether your goals include improving athletic performance — through strength and conditioning — or improving your overall fitness, changing your workout, from time to time, is necessary if you want to continue to see results. Performing the same exercises (and movements) all the time is boring and ineffective because your body adapts, which limits your results. Additionally, there are some exercises that provide very little return on your exercise “investment,” and probably should not be incorporated into your regimen, at all.

Try swapping some of your old exercises for some new ones.  Here are three examples of “overrated” exercises, and alternatives:

  • Traditional crunches (pictured) can be tough on your neck and back, and only target a small portion of your abs (and not your entire core).  Try the Plank with Knee to Chest (mountain climbers) instead, and work your entire core — shoulders, torso, and hips — while improving your stability and posture.  Start in a push-up position with your hands beneath your shoulders and feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your hips and torso still, draw one knee toward your chest. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.
  • The Seated Machine Chest Press “locks” your body into a fixed path, limiting your range of motion.  This exercise neglects important stabilizing muscles of your shoulders because, when the machine provides the stability, your body doesn’t have to.  Replace this exercise with the 1 Arm Dumbbell Bench Press, which  places the weight on one side of your body, forcing you to stabilize your body using your core. You’ll develop core strength and upper-body power that transfer to everyday activities and the sports court or field.  Here’s a video to get you started.
  • The Seated Knee Extension is low-functional and limited focus, isolating the quadriceps.  Swap this exercise for the Bulgarian Split Squat, which provides a superior total-body workout.  This video provides a detailed, “how-to” demonstration.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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