Simon Says, Stand On One Leg
When's the last time you did a single-leg exercise?
Unilateral movements are highly valuable in a training program, especially if you're suffering from any muscular or postural imbalances from side to side.
When we're always performing an exercise with two legs at a time, or two arms at a time, we can tend to favor the stronger side just a bit more. Over time, this can lead to an imbalance. If you've ever had a serious injury, chances are you have several imbalances throughout your body.
You won't see me ALWAYS squatting with two feet. And you won't see me doing it for the leg press, leg extension, or leg curl either.
Sure, I spend a majority of my time doing bilateral movements, especially with the upper body, but I also favor machines where both arms can operate independent of the other's strength. This combats imbalances in its own way.
But I still incorporate unilateral movements on a frequent basis.
Even though they suck...
You know that's why you hate them. They're hard.
Here are some of my favorite (a.k.a. most hated) single-leg movements:
- Bulgarian Split Squat
- Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
- Single-Leg Hip Thruster
- Single-Leg Leg Press
- Single-Leg Smith Machine Squat
- Single-Leg Leg Extension
- Single-Leg Hamstring Curl
- Single-Leg Calf Raise
- Stationary Lunges
- Pistol Squats
When you incorporate movements like these into your training program, and you give them the PROPER FOCUS they require to be executed correctly, you'll start to see the benefits propagate throughout your body.
When you fix the alignment of your hips, and how the surrounding muscles work, that correction will change things at the knee and ankle as well.
When you fix the stability of your knees and ankles, that correction will change things at the hip.
These things go both ways.
Think of your body as a kinetic chain.
When you alter one part of the chain, you affect the rest of the chain.
If your hips are imbalanced, it can cause pressure in your lower back or neck.
If one ankle has an issue, it can cause pain in your knee.
Pain in your neck could come from a screwed up ankle.
All of these things affect how you stand, how you sit, and how you walk.
If your gait is imbalanced, that alters the system too.
That's why it's important to work on these little problems over time.
If you know you have bad posture, work on it. If you know you have a messed up ankle, work on it. If you know you have imbalanced hips, work on it.
You don't have to fix everything at once. Just pick something and improve it. And I guarantee you'll start to feel changes somewhere else in your body. And then you can work on that one too.
Start incorporating some single-leg exercises into your program. Most people can massively benefit by improving the strength throughout their legs and hips. Especially when we're talking about longevity.
I highly recommend the Bulgarian split squat. And yes, it's extremely difficult to execute correctly.
Let me know if you need any help.
Spartan Training & Coaching
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