Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Single Leg Work

I find that a common misconception among guys in the gym is that single leg work is somehow not manly. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe it's because we have images from the covers of yoga magazines of women in leotards doing single leg deadlifts with 3 lb. pink dumbbells.

Thankfully, this is changing. As the training industry makes a shift to more functionally based, athletic type movements, lunges and the other single leg lifts in all of their glorious variety are making a return to training programs everywhere. If you've never done any single leg training, you've been missing out on a great way to:

  • Expose left/right imbalances.
  • Activate and strengthen weak glutes, improving posture and reducing back pain.
  • Improve your hip range of motion.
  • Strengthen your ankles and improve balance.
  • Eliminate front/back muscle imbalances, one of the leading predictors of muscular and joint injuries
  • Boost your training poundage on the two leg squat and deadlift.

If that list doesn't convince you, then clearly training to improve health, lifestyle and athleticism is not on your list of goals. I recommend that you go back to reading Muscular Development for your training advice. Have fun making gains on that 5 day split at 2 hours a day. I'm sure your back will be bigger than Dorian's by this time next year you hypertrophy freak.

One of the beauties of these movements is that they follow a nice progression in difficulty level. With each new level you reach, you will improve mobility, strength and balance. They are also fantastic for anyone who is rehabbing from a back injury, in that with many of them, there is no need to load the spine, as bodyweight is sufficient.

Over the next few posts, I will review the finer points of and coaching cues for the following single leg movements, along with their corresponding progressions and variations:

  • Forward Lunge
  • Reverse Lunge
  • Bulgarian Split Squat
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
  • Pistol

Until then - Train Smart; Eat Right

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