Even if you've been working out for years and are pretty sure you have your routine down by now, we have a feeling there might be a critical component missing from each of your workouts.
As personal trainers, one of the first things we do is discuss with each person which exercises they've already been doing on their own.
Nearly every time, we notice something very important is missing.
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Believe it or not, one of the best things you can do to boost your overall health and to update your training is to focus on single leg exercises.
Let's go over what that means for you.
What Does It Mean To Focus On Single Leg Training?
There's no great mystery to single leg training.
It essentially asks you to continue doing the exercises you’re already familiar with such as deadlifts, squats, split squats, lateral squats, etc. and to slightly adjust your training routine so you can do these while balancing on one leg at a time.
Of course, you will also be incorporating some new exercises which allow you to focus on each leg individually.
Now, whatever weight you can squat normally should not be attempted as a single leg exercise right away.
You don't want to risk injury.
Instead, start slow.
Begin by trying out these new moves just as bodyweight exercises until you feel comfortable with the movement and can see that your form is on point.
These exercises can really benefit from the help of a personal trainer or fitness coach to make sure you're doing things properly, challenging yourself appropriately, and so you can avoid injury.
Inherent Challenges: Most People Have Poor Balance
Few people realize that their balance needs work until they actually try balancing.
For the most part, people are pretty good at staying upright on their own 2 feet. You do it every day, right?
Short of a self-described "klutz," most people think their balance is pretty solid and probably doesn't need much work.
Then they try single leg training.
Obviously, there are some inherent challenges in holding your balance while executing something as complicated as a full squat.
Think of all the micro adjustments which need to take place to keep you from falling in any one direction.
Single leg training takes some getting used to, but the rewards are well worth it.
Imagine all the secondary and tertiary muscles you’re now engaging to hold that position.
In this way, single leg training benefits your strength, balance, and stability.
But again, like the old saying goes, "don't try this at home."
Talk with a trainer, have them give you an evaluation and some important pointers before running off to try this yourself.
Most of the Things You Do in a Day Are Already "One Legged" Activities
Let's look at an activity you've been doing every day of your life since you were a toddler: walking.
Walking requires a tremendous amount of balance and trust in yourself.
When the action is broken down by science, you may be shocked to find that walking is nothing more than a controlled cycle of falling and catching yourself.
Think about it: you balance entirely on your right leg while swinging your left leg forward.
You then lean slightly into that leg suspended off the ground, but before your body has a chance to enter a freefall, your balance immediately switches to the left leg just as you propel forward once again.
Running is an even more dramatic example of controlled falling and catching yourself.
In fact, if you've ever tripped while walking or running, what likely happened was that something (a tree root, a stair, a curb) prevented you from catching yourself after you passed the apex of the fall.
In sports, one leg activities happen all the time, especially in cases like golf or tennis.
However, when playing sports, you may tend to favor one leg causing asymmetries.
These can lead to pain or injury in the long run.
You can avoid all of that by incorporating single like training into your strength routine.
Single Leg Training Is Brain Training!
Everyday activities like walking seem easy to us because they are rehearsed.
We have years of experience with walking, so it's become automatic.
Single-leg balancing is a different story.
When you’re training one leg it a time, not only do you need to engage different muscle groups, but you also need to have a fully focused and determined mind.
If your thoughts wander too much during a training session, that's a good way to wind up on the floor.
So, in a way, single leg training can help keep your brain sharp, by keeping you present and focused on the activity at hand.
It can help increase your concentration and bodily awareness, which is a huge plus.
If you've been noticing that one side of your body appears a bit stronger than the other, if you're not entirely confident in your balance, or if you feel you’ve simply reached a training plateau, now is a good time to talk to one of our Los Gatos personal trainers about bringing single leg training into your strength routines.
Want to learn how to put together a complete workout program that burns fat and builds lean muscle?
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- Why strength training is CRITICAL for fat loss
- Our "Complementary SuperSet" model of training
- Specific workout recommendations for every level
- Videos showing you correct form and tempo
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