Single leg training is important.
There’s no getting away from that fact!
Almost all sports, athletic movements, or simply activities of daily living require being able to move from one leg to the other – and ideally to be able to do this with stability, power, and with minimal risk of injury.
Single leg training (like every other fundamental movement category) can of course be progressed with load and volume – but also mechanically. So once we have learned to ‘own’ a particular movement pattern we can move to the next, more mechanically challenging pattern and so on.
Typically I will program in four week blocks – and so a client will look to progress an exercise in terms of load OR volume (not both) over those four weeks, and then we will look to progress the mechanics – in other words move towards the more mechanically (and neurologically) challenging version of that movement pattern.
If that sounds complicated, it doesn’t need to be. Progressing movement both neurologically and mechanically follows some simple rules – the further we move someone away from the ground, and the more moving parts they have, the fewer external references they have to rely on, and therefore the greater the mechanical and neurological demand of the exercise.
Therefore a simple continuum of single leg progressions in the sagittal (forward-back) plane may be:
Split Squat => Buglarian Split Squat => Reverse Lunge => Forward Lunge => Walking Lunge
If we follow a similar progressive scale for single leg movements in the frontal (left-right), and also transverse (rotational) planes of movement; then we have a structure for how to build and incorporate single leg training into our programs.
It’s not so much about what exercises we do, as how we do them!
This is a long form answer to a common question I get asked about how to coach single leg exercises, and why I coach them in a specific way.
And if you want to learn more about the how’s and why’s of exercise mechanics and the finer points of programming – you can check out the Complete Trainers Toolbox right here