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5 single leg exercises to improve your strength for sports performance

Looking to build your strength for GAA, football or rugby? It’s not all about squatting.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

LEG DAY HAS become one of the most popular tags on social media lately.

Some people are not happy unless they find it difficult to walk the next day. This is fine if you are a bodybuilder or into that sort of thing. However, if you are an athlete looking to improve your sporting performance this approach is nonsense.

As an athlete you are required to move in multiple planes, often changing direction at high speeds and if you play a contact sport you are going to be in multiple collisions also.

How do you suppose you would prepare yourself to succeed in such situations?

Having good lower body strength will clearly play a role in your ability to fight off challenges, but more importantly it will help reduce your risk of injury. Obviously there are numerous other factors which will contribute to your risk of injury but strength is a good place to start.

So how do you improve your leg strength? The first thing that pops into people’s heads is a squat or deadlift. Both excellent exercises if they can be performed correctly.

However, in our years of experience working with both professional and amatuer athletes we have found that single leg training has been very beneficial and is generally a safer option.

When it comes to training athletes whose job it is to play their sport we always look at their training from a risk reward standpoint. For example, we would consider getting someone to back squat a higher risk than the reward we would get from it, we can potentially accomplish the same results using a different single leg squat variation like a Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat depending on the training age of the athlete.

Trying to explain to a manager that his star player is not available for selection on Sunday because he hurt his back on Wednesday squatting is not a conversation we want to have.

Another reason we like to use single leg variations is because almost everyone has one leg stronger than the other. If you have a difference in strength between the left and right side of your body then this could increase your risk of injury. Think about this, how many legs do you run on? One. When you are running or sprinting there is only ever one leg on the ground at a time. This is another reason why we place a high value on single leg training.

There is a time and place where we love to use double leg training but when we work with athletes we usually have a short period of time to get the result we want. From our experience, single leg exercises are an excellent method when it comes to bang for your buck.

Next time you the gym give these exercises a try:

Source: Elite Physical Prep/YouTube

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Elite Physical Prep

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