You don’t have to be a hardcore athlete to benefit from leg training exercises. From childhood to senior age, moving your lower body and exercising is a great tool for both your mind and your physique. But what about training just one specific side of your body at a time? Essentially, a single-leg exercise is simply any lower-body move that you do with the support and power of just one leg.
Single leg training is a great tool, from golfers to Crossfit junkies and even those who don’t consider themselves athletic. So whether you’re a fitness buff or just looking to get a few exercises in here and there, single leg training is beneficial to everyone.
Here’s why you should start doing them today:
It Helps Improve Your Balance
Whenever you’re at the gym, you typically see individuals performing exercises on both legs. But not only do single leg exercises work your brain as it calls for sharper focus and concentration, it is greatly beneficial to anyone looking to improve their balance. And although some of these exercises may not look impressive to the untrained eye, the intense focus and use of raw strength on one particular part of body proves otherwise. Even better, you will engage your core as you balance, weaving in some difficult ab work as you work to balance things out. Not to mention, single-leg exercises are proven to greatlyreduce your risk of injury.
Work to Correct the Added Pressure Placed on Your “Dominant” Leg
Also referred to as unilateral exercises, single leg exercises can work to identify imbalances and weaknesses in the body. Although we may not stop to realize it, we all have a dominant leg that we use. When you approach a staircase, you have a preferred stepping off leg, don’t you? Your body recognizes this and this is the reason for a “dominant” leg, just like your hand you prefer to write with or use as your throwing arm. But as we know, when we favor one side of our body this puts us at risk for injury as we overcompensate.
By implementing single leg exercises into your regimen, it will help to alleviate the added stress that you are imposing to your dominant side of your lower body. The number one way to correct for muscle imbalances is by including unilateral strength exercises in all of your workouts. And what’s even better is that anyone can do them with a little concentration, and it’s less impact on your spine.
We use Both Sides of Our Body, we Should Train Each Separately
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. When asked about the benefits of single leg training, he said, “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.” He also added that it will work to “promote great muscle growth and great muscle strength because they work more muscles” when common leg exercises are performed as single leg exercises.
Here are some good examples of single leg exercises you should add to your workout routine:
Tips on how to get started with your single leg exercises:
Focus on your weaker side first
Chose weights based upon your strength level for your weaker side. (You will quickly see a major difference in strength between each!)
Keep the number of reps you do equal to both sides
Give yourself time and keep at it. 6 weeks is a good rule of thumb as long as you stay consistent with your new single leg exercise routine.