Tag Archives: single-leg exercises

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?

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The Case for Single-Leg Squats

14 Mar

DSCN1897 DSCN1898At Athletic Performance Training Center, we like to incorporate single-leg exercises to complement bilateral exercises like the squat.

Exercises like the step-up, Bulgarian (rear leg elevated) split squat, and single-leg squat are routinely integrated into our athletes’ training.

Research tells us that the (back) squat is well-established to improve strength and power; as well as sprinting, jumping, and change-of-direction performance.

But movements like sprinting, jumping, and changing direction are performed either unilaterally, or with weight transferred to one leg at a time.

Therefore, it would be logical to expect that some aspects of athletic performance could be improved with unilateral exercises, which offer more specificity and may be more similar to athletic movements.

Unilateral exercises can also improve balance and stability, decrease lateral strength disparities, and maximize transfer between training and competitive performance.

In a recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study, Speirs and colleagues found that “bilateral and unilateral training interventions may be equally efficacious in improving measures of lower-body strength, speed, and change of direction…”

In the study, the unilateral group squatted exclusively with the Bulgarian split squat, whereas the bilateral group trained only with the back squat.

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?

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?

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