If you read my blog, you know how much I insist on working out for the lower body! Some time ago I wrote an article about the Chicken Legs Syndrome, which is a really “dangerous disease”. 😉
If you have been training for a while, I hope that you already incorporate squats and deadlifts in your training program and I do not need to remind you of their importance for a strong and healthy body!
Today I want to focus on unilateral exercises for the lower body ( or in other words single leg work). For the past 6 months, single leg work is a big part of my training program and I think that this has helped a lot for my progress.
More often than not, people neglect single leg work, first because these exercises are not so popular and second, because they are a little more challenging, because they require a lot more balance and coordination.
Let me first share the positive sides of single leg work and then I will explain you how I incorporate them in my workouts and which single leg exercises are on my top list!
1.They help remove the imbalance between your legs.
As you know, usually one of your legs is stronger than the other. I often notice people performing standard back squats, who rely more on one of their legs, when they are moving the weight back up. This leads to a slip to one side, which might lead to a serious injury, especially if you are using heavy weights. When you do single leg exercises, this couldn’t happen, because you rely on just one of your legs( the one that’s doing the work), and the other one either just assists the movement or just helps you balance.
2.They require a lot of balance
Single leg movements, help you improve your balance. A lot of people have problems with balance, because our daily life does not demand a lot of single leg balancing. Usually when I give a single leg movement to newer clients, they start swinging and are easily thrown off balance.
3.They require pretty good coordination
Nowadays a lot of people lack coordination and a lot of people have clumsy movements. This is not that bad, because it could be fixed. You just need a better physical culture. I assure you that if you learn to perform single leg movements, your coordination will be a lot better!
4. They load pretty good, the Glute Medius, Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL), Adductor Complex and the contralateral (opposite) Quadratus Lumborum.
You should keep in mind that single leg movements help you strengthen a lot of muscles on your butt and legs!
5.Single leg movements help you improve your bilateral movements.
The better you become at doing single leg movements, the more the strength you gain, will transfer to the standard squats and deadlifts.
6. They develop the stabilizing muscles around your knees
At first sight, you might be thinking that these movements will ruin your knees, but this would be a wrong assumption. If you perform them the right way, they could help you improve your knee health!
How do I incorporate single leg movements?
As you know, I always incorporate two lower body exercises. Usually I start out with a bilateral movement( back squat, front squat or deadlift), as I usually use heavier weights and I try to be fresh and rested! That’s why I always start my workout with them. Then the other lower body movement is a single leg movement- pistols, lunges, bg squats, single leg deadlifts and other variations.
I’ve been working out like this for the past six months and I have never been in a better shape. I started lifting a lot heavier weights on the basic movements and I improved the imbalances between my legs. Besides that unilateral movements helped me strengthen my butt muscles, because they allow for a bigger range of motion, which helps me load muscles, that do not do so much work during a standard squat!
Which are my favorites?
Well, I already mentioned them.
Bulgarian Squats( not because I am Bulgarian 😉 )
Pistols(read more here)
Single Leg Deadlift
I highly recommend you to incorporate this in your training program! I am sure that you will feel the difference!
Do you incorporate single leg movements in your program? Which one are your favorite?
P.S. If you liked this post, or if you find it helpful, please share it with your friends. I’d greatly appreciate it!
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