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Single or Double leg training - Which is better for athletic performance?

Step up being performed.
Step up being performed.

Since the 1920’s squats have been called the “king of all exercises”. There are many benefits to incorporating squats into your lifting routine. They not only build strength and muscle from head to toe; but they also help your body release loads of testosterone. In order to perform a squat your body must use over 500 muscles! Finally they are a super mass builder.

There are some drawbacks – after all everything has a price. People with less than average flexibility, knee or back problems could have trouble performing squats; which could lead to injury. Recent medical studies also suggest the stress on your lower back could be double the amount of weight that you are actually lifting.

Comparing single leg exercises like the bench step up to squats have surprising results. Most athletic movement occurs one leg at a time – so wouldn’t it make more sense to train them that way? CERTAINLY!

Most ball sports feature an athlete at some point using his/her speed to gain an advantage. First step explosion (football, soccer, basketball), sprinting (track, basketball, baseball, football), direction changing etc. all are performed uni-laterally. Having strength, power and explosion developed with exercises targeting one leg at a time will yield better results!

Here is an exercise that you can do to get going.

Single leg bench step up (with or without weights):

Place one leg on box or bench approx 20 inch high.

Lean forward slightly to ensure weight is over leg.

Dorsiflex (raise your toes off the ground) your plant foot – to make sure only the leg that is on the bench is used to press yourself onto the bench.

For maximal athletic gains use a moderate rep to low rep range (6 – 10) for your working sets.


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