So you’re an athlete who wants to increase lower body strength. Makes sense, leg development can unleash all types of performance gains on the turf, or track. So you throw a couple wheels on a barbell, dig in and begin a regimen that looks a lot like this…squats, squats, squats, deadlifts, deadlifts, leg press, squats and oh yea can’t forget more squats. First, let me make it clear that outside of my indifference regarding leg pressing, the other 2 lifts should definitely be staples of any well organized strength program. The misconception that many athletes have is that squatting or deadlifting 500 lbs will automatically translate into improved sport performance. If your sports performance is body building then you’re definitely not wrong, having some jacked legs would be ideal for you. But if you’re the type of athlete who competes on a field, court, or even a pool, you might want to rethink the method to your madness.
Too many times I see athletes who can squat and deadlift a ridiculous amount of weight but can barely perform a single leg squat..with body weight. I believe that single leg strength is one of the many keys to athletic development. Here are a few benefits:
- Correcting muscle imbalances between the left and right leg (this can lead to potential injury)
- Improved coordination and proprioception
- Generally safer for lifting heavy loads
- Single leg exercises mimic sports and life movement
- More core stabilization and keeps your low back safe
We teach a variety of single leg exercises with a variety of progressions at the BPC because we believe these are functional movements for our athletes. If you’re looking to develop leg strength, make single leg work a staple in your program and you’ll see gains not only on the field but you’ll see those squat and deadlift numbers improve as well.
Another big plus in building single leg strength for athletic development is that it’s more sport specific. Think about it, how often do you use both legs in unison during practice and competition? Not very often. I’ve said this over and over and again that running is a single leg motion and therefore the ability to produce strength off of one leg is crucial to success.
At the Boost Performance Center, in Corona, CA, we put a premium on single leg strength. Outside of a vertical & broad jump, football lineman firing off the ball, or a sprinter exploding out the blocks, almost all movements on the court or field require a high level of single leg strength and stability. Running is a perfect example of this as one leg produces force and stability while the opposite leg is in flight. Exercises such as step ups, lunges, and single leg deadlifts to name a few are great at building the strength & stability required for speed development. And since speed kills in almost every sport, leg development needs to be as specific as possible in improving these
Owner, Boost Training Systems in Corona, CA
Level 1 & 2 Coach Bommarito Performance