The Benefits of Single Leg Training

A strong lower body is vital in maintaining an active lifestyle. A strong and stable lower body and core positively impacts the biomechanics and efficiency of all human movement. This includes the ability to sit, stand, walk, run, jump, climb, and all other activities of daily living (ADL). Did you know while walking with a normal gait, 80% of the time is spent on a single leg? While running with a normal gait, 100% of the time is spent on a single leg? The majority of the most common non-contact injuries and pain are related to stability and strength deficits on a single leg.
When most people think of lower body strength exercises, they tend limit themselves to traditional two legged movements such as the squat and deadlift. However, incorporating single leg exercises that complement the traditional two-legged counterparts provides significant benefits:

1. Increased Weight with Minimal Spine Loading

Single leg training allows the application of an appropriate stimulus that creates positive adaptations, but with a reduced total weight and stress directly impacting the spine. When only one leg at a time is doing the work, the weight being used is obviously much lower while the stimulus to improve remains equal or greater. This can be particularly helpful for beginners and people with mobility restrictions/injuries; however, the benefits extend to populations far beyond those subgroups all the way to the most elite individuals in sport and tactical performance. Take the squat pattern for example. Some of us will be more comfortable performing a split squat or lunge holding dumbbells in each hand as opposed to a traditional back/ front squats holding a barbell.

Single legged exercises also can reveal any imbalances that could limit daily function in life and sport more easily so a fitness professional can help you correct them and improve.

2. Improving Lateral Stability Improving Lateral Stability

Single leg exercises have been shown to provide greater carry over to performance enhancement of ADLs such as walking, running, climbing stairs, and fall prevention. The overwhelming majority of human movement requires single leg stability, weight transfer, and loading.
For example, in rotational movements like the golf swing, each leg is working individually, and at different moments is more responsible for taking the load. During the backswing, the majority of load goes into the rear leg and is then transferred into the lead leg in the downswing. Therefore, it makes sense to train each leg individually..

3. Building Unilateral Strength

Single leg training also helps reduce strength imbalances between legs. If you are only doing two legged exercises, the more dominant leg is going to keep picking up a bit more of the slack. This ultimately leads to the strength imbalance increasing, resulting in performance issues and an increased risk of injury. By adding single leg exercises into your routine, it will help correct the imbalance.
Interested in learning more about how to most effectively incorporate single leg movements in your workouts? Feel free to reach out and contact me to set up a Free Consultation.

Would you like to learn more about how to keep yourself moving well and moving often in every stage of life? Email me. Being aware of the joint by joint approach, and giving the body the mobility and stability, it requires at the appropriate joints enhances your performance and reduces your risk of injury while meeting the demands of life and sport.

Jason Dougherty’s mission is to upgrade lives, empowering all of his clients / athletes with simple strategies to enhance their performance and reduce the risk of injury in activities of daily living and/or sport. If you would like a FREE fitness consultation give Jason a call 610.918.2900 ext200 or send him an email to: