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Single Leg Training

No matter the client, I can assure you that somewhere in their program a squat will appear.  I love squats as they are great for building a stable base, teaching fundamental lifting techniques and developing proper posture.

Although I will praise the squat as the center to all strength training, it does have its caveats.  Most people have mobility issues stemming from weak hamstrings and glutes, and tight hip flexors.  Due to these problems, their squat suffers from a decreased range of motion.  Clients often state they feel discomfort during the squat sine they have decreased range of motion… Stepping too far out of their comfort zone can really put the brakes on.

Single Leg Training

To compliment the squat, people should incorporate single legged exercises into their programs.  Single legged exercises have many benefits including increasing joint stability, reduction in joint pain, improved balance, and act as a prophylactic (reduction in rate of injuries).

The reasoning – single legged exercises require you to maintain balance throughout.  This requirement of sustained balanced signals smaller muscles to be activated.  These stabilizer muscles include the abductors, gluteus medius, erector spinae, and quadrates lumborum.  The first two muscles listed work in maintaining hip joint angle while the second two work in aligning your upper body.  The result – increased balance.

Furthermore, balance comes in many forms, and another benefit from single leg exercises that cannot be found with squats – muscle symmetry.  When performing a squat, you have both feet in contact with the ground.  This allows for potential compensation from a dominant leg to assist the weak one in performing the work.  With single leg exercises, you are stressing each limb with the same resistance – resulting in symmetrical muscle growth.

Single Leg Exercises

Incorporating single leg exercises into your exercise program is not a daunting task.  Simply add them in conjunction or create a new day where you work on imbalances.  Below are two categories for single leg movements.

Single Leg / Semi Stable

Although these exercises are single legged, your other foot is in contact with a static surface to assist in stability.  Once you are comfortable with this category, move on to unstable single legged exercises.

–          Bulgarian squats

–          Single legged glute bridge

–          Swiss ball leg curl

–          Single legged hip thrust

Single Leg / Unstable

These exercises incorporate more stabilizer muscles to maintain balance.  The resting leg is not in contact with any surface to enhance stability.

–          Single legged deadlifts

–          Single legged box squats

–          Step up

–           One Leg Hops

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