Tag Archives: unilateral exercises

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 Agility with Balance Training

13 Apr

airex_balance_beam_square[1]Balance should be considered as a potential predictor of agility, according to a new Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study.  The article also cited speed and power development as having an impact on agility; and gender-specific influences  — power development having a greater impact on agility in women, and balance training having a greater impact on agility in men.

Agility isn’t simply how fast you move.  It refers to your ability to accelerate (speed up), decelerate (slow down), and change direction; and how quickly you can recognize and react to a stimulus.  We also acknowledge that agility is contingent upon ground displacement: The stronger you are through the lower extremities, the more force you can generate against the ground.  With practice, increased ground force generation equals improvements in agility-related performance.

Balance training should include unilateral lower-body exercises, such as the single-leg squat, Bulgarian split squat, stepup, single-leg Romanian deadlift; and ankle, knee, and hip balance and stability exercises (pictured).

Speed training should incorporate max effort sprints, and assisted/resisted (uphill, parachute) running.

To increase power production, perform Olympic lifts (for example, the hang clean), squat jump, single-leg squat jump (also incorporates balance), and plyometrics.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Combined Plyometric Training Improves Performance

7 Oct
Single-Leg Box Jump

Single-Leg Box Jump

Single-Leg Hurdle Hop

Single-Leg Hurdle Hop

Most plyometric training focuses on bilateral, vertical exercises (nothing necessarily wrong with that).  We hop and jump with two feet, in a mostly vertical plane (straight up).

Adding unilateralhorizontal, and lateral plyometric exercises is a great way to accelerate the development of explosive power, balance, and muscular endurance, according to multiple studies in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

It’s pretty simple to incorporate unilateral (single-leg), horizontal (forward), and lateral (side-to-side) plyometric exercises into your training, once you’ve become comfortable and proficient with more traditional plyometric exercises.

When performing unilateral plyometric exercises, it’s important to start with a low intensity level and degree of difficulty.

If you’re already doing bilateral, vertical hops and jumps as part of your training, try adding single-leg vertical, lateral, and forward hops and jumps to your routine, on flat ground.  As your strength and balance improves, add low hurdles and plyo boxes to the mix.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Get Functionally Fit in 2015

29 Dec

bigstock-Gym-man-and-woman-push-up-stre-40734724[1]It’s New Year’s resolution time and, for some of us, that means a major overhaul of our diet and exercise plans in 2015.

For others, a few modifications to our current regimen is all we’ll need.

And, of course, there will be those of us for whom 2015 — from a fitness perspective — will be “business as usual.”

Regardless of your plan, don’t just get (or stay) fit in 2015… get functionally fit.

Functional training means challenging yourself with exercises that not only build strength, but also require balance and stability.  Avoid or minimize stationary, machine-based exercises that “lock” you into single-joint and/or isolated muscle group movements.

Free weights generally require more balance, stability, and core activation than machines and can also provide for a greater range-of-motion.  And don’t limit yourself to pushing and pulling exercises.  You can use kettlebells and medicine balls to bend, twist, turn, carry, swing, toss, and throw.

Perform more unilateral exercises — those that work one arm, one leg, or one side of the body — as an alternative to traditional bilateral exercises.  Single-leg exercise versions of the squat, Romanian deadlift, and Bulgarian split squat work the entire lower body and prevent the stronger limb from compensating for the weaker one.  The same principle applies to upper-body exercises like single-arm presses and rows.

Perform more exercises on your feet, as opposed to sitting or lying down.  Try using a suspension trainer, like the TRX, and you’ll activate your core with every exercise you do.

If you’re going to do cardio, get away from the traditional slow, steady paced jog.  Incorporate high-intensity interval training into your routine.  Add exercises and drills that require backpedaling, lateral shuffling, hopping, skipping, and lunging.

Do more movement-based training, and less muscle-based training, and you’ll look, feel, function, and perform better than ever.

Looking for some help, guidance and/or direction to get started?  Contact us today via our website.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Mobility: Make Your Workouts More Functional

28 Nov

functional_training3[1]

Physioball Weight Roll

We focus on functional training for our athletes.  That means movement-based — and not muscle-based — exercises make up the majority of every athlete’s workout.  In addition to developing strength, speed, agility, and athleticism, we want our athletes to improve mobility, balance, coordination, and stability.  All these components contribute to a more powerful, capable athlete.

Ultimately, the athlete’s training should reflect the demands and movement patterns of his or her sport.

Better mobility helps athletes reduce the incidence of injury, and also gives players a considerable advantage on the court or field.  Hip and ankle mobility are important for explosive movements like sprinting; accelerating and decelerating; changing direction; and blocking and tackling.

  • Unilateral exercises (those which load one side of the body at a time), like single-arm presses and single-leg squats, are probably more reflective of sports performance than traditional bilateral exercises (loading both sides equally).  We like alternating between unilateral and bilateral exercises, for a specific movement or muscle group, every other week, to build a stronger, more balanced musculature.
  • Perform more exercises standing, including standing on one leg.  When you sit or lie down to do an exercise, you’re not supporting your own weight and, as a result, you’re compromising the development of core strength and stability.
  • Get away from training on machines that “lock” your body into exercises that don’t require balance or stability, and those that don’t work multiple joints and muscle groups from different angles.  Opt instead for free-weight exercises using dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, or even sandbags.
  • Move through different planes of motion when you workout.  Lateral, transverse (diagonal), rotational, and anti-rotational exercises are great additions to any training regimen.

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 Agility with Balance Training

20 Mar

airex_balance_beam_square[1]Balance should be considered as a potential predictor of agility, according to a new Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study.  The article also cited speed and power development as having an impact on agility; and gender-specific influences  — power development having a greater impact on agility in women, and balance training having a greater impact on agility in men.

Agility isn’t simply how fast you move.  It refers to your ability to accelerate (speed up), decelerate (slow down), and change direction; and how quickly you can recognize and react to a stimulus.  We also acknowledge that agility is contingent upon ground displacement: The stronger you are through the lower extremities, the more force you can generate against the ground.  With practice, increased ground force generation equals improvements in agility-related performance.

Balance training should include unilateral lower-body exercises, such as the single-leg squat, Bulgarian split squat, stepup, single-leg Romanian deadlift; and ankle, knee, and hip balance and stability exercises (pictured).

Speed training should incorporate max effort sprints, and assisted/resisted (uphill, parachute) running.

To increase power production, perform Olympic lifts (for example, the hang clean), squat jump, single-leg squat jump (also incorporates balance), and plyometrics.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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