When you go into the weight room, you see most people performing standard two-leg Squats and Deadlifts. These are fantastic exercises for developing strength and power, but are they the best?
Single-leg training is a critical tool for developing balanced strength. In the past, single-leg exercises were used to supplement traditional two-legged programs, but some experts are beginning to make single-leg training a primary focus.
Mike Boyle, Boston Red Sox strength coach and owner of Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning, is one of the most prominent advocates of single-leg training. In a T Nation article, Boyle writes, “You do almost everything in sports in a split stance, or by pushing off one leg from a parallel stance, so it just makes sense to train your body that way.”
Single-leg training balances strength so you can sprint, change direction and produce force equally on both sides of your body. The unstable nature of single-leg training also develops stabilizers and small muscle groups that you can’t hit with standard exercises but that are critical for injury prevention.
The benefits don’t stop there. According to Boyle, “[Single-leg exercises] promote great muscle growth and great muscle strength because they work more muscles.” He adds that you engage three more muscles in a Single-Leg Squat than you do in a traditional Squat. If you train one leg at a time, then try a traditional Squat, you’ll likely hit a new personal record.
Even the biggest proponents of single-leg training concede that traditional two-legged exercises (especially Olympic lifts) still have an important place in any training program. However, if you only perform a few single-leg movements (maybe you like the look of loading up a bar for a two-legged Squat), you are doing yourself a disservice.
Replace your traditional two-legged exercises with some of these single-leg versions today, and reap the benefits of single-leg training.
Single-Leg RDL to Clean and Press
Single-Leg, Straight-Leg Deadlift
Source: T Nation