In the world of strength and conditioning, whether in a college/university setting or a private setting, single leg training has become a staple, and for good reason. No matter what your goals are, be it to gain lower body strength, enhance athletic performance, or just have a pair of legs you can be proud of come bikini season, single leg training can help you reach those goals. Despite this you’ll be hard pressed to walk into most commercial gyms and actually see someone performing any type of single leg training.
The reasoning behind single leg training is pretty straight forward. For starters, running/walking/skating etc. are all essentially a single leg movement as you hop/bound/stride from one leg to the other. That means that an athlete is essentially controlling his or her own body weight on one leg each and every time they take a stride. When you really stop and think about, very few athletic movements are done seated or done on both legs simultaneously. With that said, if an athlete, whether recreational or competitive, wants to enhance their performance why wouldn’t they incorporate single leg training into their programs? It seems like a no brainer.
To add to the support, single leg movements are safe due in part to the fact that you simply aren’t as strong on one leg as you are on two legs, meaning less spinal loading for exercises like squats. You’d be surprised at the small amounts of weight needed to blast your legs when performing a single leg movement, and most beginners find some single leg movements to be challenging enough without any added weight.
Without further ado, here are a few basic single leg movements:
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
Single Leg Squat
Single Leg DB RDL
Single Leg Swiss Ball Leg Curl
Single Leg Good Morning
With all that being said, I am still an advocate of bilateral training and don’t feel that bilateral training should be completely cut out of any program. I want to make it clear that I am not saying people shouldn’t squat or deadlift because they are bilateral movements. What I am saying and advocating is that instead of hitting the leg press or doing some leg extension after squatting, try adding some single leg movements…you’ll be challenged like never before and your lower body strength will skyrocket.