The Need for Single Leg Training

The Need for Single Leg Training

bbell-side-lunge-b-maleMost novice athletes train in a double leg stance. Three way step-ups, multi-directional lunges and split squats are not used often in strength performance training. They are not real “max” strength exercises, yet most activities and sports are done off of single leg stances or at the very least transfer of force from double leg to single leg stances. Double leg training is excellent for basic strength, large loads and volumes, but can be bad for individuals that stand, sit or run distance. In addition to double leg squatting, deadlifting, kettlebell swings, RDL’s, box jumps, etc. are repetitions of this double leg pattern.

 

Overtraining in the double leg stance can cause overstimulation of the outer sling, generally the quadratus lomborum, the glutes and lateral leg musculature and IT band. The corresponding lesser stimulation of the inner sling, generally considered the lower abs, the adductors and pelvic floor leads to an imbalance. This imbalance can lead to a myriad of problems that are generally seen quite frequently for active adults and weekend warriors. Maladies such as runners knee, low back pain and hip discomfort all are exacerbated by excessive double leg training at the expense of single led work.

As the lateral quad and IT band becomes tighter, knee cap tracking problems will manifest themselves in knee discomfort or pain and over time, crepitus (grinding under the kneecap, feeling like “rocks”). Theleg-roll basic remedy for this is the foam roller from the lateral hip to the lateral knee. IT band stretches are also recommended.

Weak QL and glute med contribute to an unstable hip and knee, which can lead to ankle sprains and even ACL rupture. Single leg stability strength training can help to prevent these catastrophic events. Lateral ankle band shuffles with the toes in, lateral single leg skater hops to vertical hops and single leg exercises such as stability squats with one leg reaching in four planes (linear, lateral, reverse and opposite lateral behind (think curtsey posture)).

 

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Low front side core weakness is caused by too much sitting, too little single leg exercise and having children. This can be rectified by adding a ball to squeeze between the legs during basic pushing and pulling exercises as well as when training the core and glutes. For example, squeeze and hip lift or reverse crunch exercises can be prescribed in order to increase the adductor and lower core innervation. Another excellent way to add low front side core stability is to do 3 way leg lowering while laying on a foam roller along the spine. One knee is bent, each hand is near the hips pressing into the ground for stability and the other leg is straight up. This straight up leg will be lowered laterally, diagonally and linearly for reps of 3 – 5 at a time for sets of 9 – 15.

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