One Leg is Often Weaker than the Other – Do Single Leg Training!
Lower body training, in my opinion, is the most important aspect of any type of training program. Without a strong lower body and strong core musculature, everything else suffers. In the sports world, it can lead to poor athletic performance due to muscle imbalances and a poor distribution of force/energy though the Human Movement System. (HMS is just a term used to describe all our ligaments, tendons, bones and muscle groups that allow for movement in our body).
An untrained lower body also adversely affects the average person – we all rely on our legs and core for activities of daily living as well as recreational activities. Therefore, not only do we need to train our lower body, but we should focus on unilateral strength as well.
Unilateral training, especially for our legs, has many, many benefits. The main one is that it will point out any imbalances that are present. Just as we have a dominant arm, we have a dominant leg. Single leg training will allow us to focus on that weaker leg because now our dominant leg is no longer in the picture to “assist” our weaker leg as it might in a bilateral exercise such as squats. If you think about it, almost everything we do is off one leg. Think about it: When we run, are both feet on the ground at the same time? Walking? How about going up and down a flight of stairs? All these daily activities are single leg based. If we have one leg weaker than the other, some of these activities may prove challenging. Worst-case scenario is you may have severe muscle imbalances on that weaker limb that may lead to injuries like sprained ankles, knee pain, and low back pain.
So next time you work out your legs, think about adding some lunges, step ups, or single leg squats to a chair into the mix. You’ll be glad you did.
By Rory M., HealthEase Fitness Specialist