Why YOU Should do Single Leg Exercises

The Importance of Single Leg Training

Coaches will always argue the value of single leg training. Some coaches think of single leg training the end all be all of training the lower body while other coaches scoff at the idea of including it into their program. In my eyes, squats and deadlifts will always be king, but single leg exercises are essential to keeping athletes healthy and complimenting the king lifts.

Single leg training is a staple in the training program of my athletes, especially for baseball players. For those of you that aren’t familiar with single leg exercise this includes exercise like lunges, step ups and split squats. These exercises generally do not make up the meat of my training program, but instead they are supplemental   to heavy bilateral exercises like squats and deadlift variations.

Why is Single Leg Training Important?

Single leg exercises are crucial to the health and performance of an athlete because they help athletes overcome muscular imbalances caused from playing their sport.

By overcoming muscular imbalances athletes will be less likely to get injured and will achieve higher levels of performance. This goes especially for athletes who play sports like baseball, in which the same motions are constantly repeated on one side of the body.

Pattern overload will lead to muscular imbalances and will leave the athlete more vulnerable to injury.

uni 300x168 Q & A: Assistance Exercises

How to Incorporate Single Leg Training into Your Program?

For advanced athletes who are not injured we typically perform a single leg exercise following a squat or deadlift variation. It is used to supplement the main exercise of the day.

3-4 sets of 6-8 reps with each leg usually does the trick. I rarely have my athletes do more than 8 reps on single leg exercises because technique starts to become compromised. Let’s face it, nobody likes doing lunges or split squats for high reps. From experience I have seen that once you start to get into a higher rep range on these types of exercises technique starts to really break down.  I rather do 6-8 really good reps with each leg opposed to 10-12 sloppy reps with each leg.

For beginner or injured athletes, single leg training can be used as the main lower body exercise. It really depends on the athlete and where they are in their development. For example, if an athlete lacks the mobility in the lower half to get into a proper squat position or if they cannot handle a heavy load on their spine, or if there are some serious imbalances in their lower half, I have no problem having them focus on single leg exercises instead of squats.

Single leg exercise are extremely versatile. Exercises like lunges, split squats and step ups can be performed explosively with your bodyweight, or with dumbbells, kettlebells, various barbells or odd objects. They can be performed walking, forward, reverse or from a deficient. The opportunities are limitless.

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