THREE EXERCISES TO IMPROVE SINGLE LEG POWER

THREE EXERCISES TO IMPROVE SINGLE LEG POWER

Most sport and lifestyle activities require us to be explosive, change direction, and jump when only one foot is planted on the ground.  Yet we rarely train single-leg power in the gym.

These three exercises will help fix that.

Explosive Two-Box Step-Up

In most sports, speed and acceleration are critical.  How quick you get off the line, take your first step, or move to the ball is often the factor that separates the good athletes from the great ones.  The challenge with most single-leg exercises is that they require a fairly high degree of balance, which means a lot of effort must be directed toward movement deceleration.

Here’s one way to progress a basic single-leg exercise—the Step-Up—to allow you to keep accelerating through the movement without having to stop to keep your balance.

These can be performed with dumbbells held at your side—for more posterior chain activation—or with a barbell or safety squat bar on your shoulders—for more quadriceps involvement.

Seated Single-Leg Bench Jump to a Box

If you’re looking at completeness of you training program, learning to quickly activate all available force from a dead stop is an important and novel training stimulus.  This ability is typically measured by something called RFP, or Rate of Force Production—the human performance equivalent of a car’s 0-60mph time.

This exercise defuses the Stretch-Shortening Reflex (SSC) that is normally activated during the transition between the lengthening and shortening phase of an exercise.  (Think the elastic rebound you get at the bottom of squat that helps push you back upright).

Avoid bouncing, wiggling, or using a big countermovement in your upper body when seated on the bench.

Start by jumping onto an 18-inch block.  Progressively increase the height of the box in proportion to ability.

Single-Leg Deadlift with Medicine Ball Slam

Eccentric training—where a muscle actively lengthens under tension—is one of the most effective ways to increase overall strength and power output.  Yet most people underutilize or ignore the eccentric component of most exercises.

This is a mistake for two reasons.

First, power is the product of force x velocity. Velocity is a function of speed and force is a function of strength.  With this equation, we know that we can improve running and sprinting speed by increasing the amount of leg strength available per stride.

Second, the ability to control joint position and avoid soft-tissue injuries during high-speed movement is largely a function of eccentric control.

Here, we use a Medicine Ball, thrown downward from an overhead position, to create a rapid lengthening contraction that follows the form of single leg deadlift.  The over-speed of the ball forces the hamstring and glute to decelerate the upper body as it moves toward the ground.

Conclusion

While explosive power training has long been considered the exclusive jurisdiction of the bilateral (two-limbed) lifts, single-leg exercises play an important, sport-specific role in a well-rounded program.

Use single-leg exercises to improve acceleration, rate of force production and contribute to overall power output.

THREE EXERCISES TO IMPROVE SINGLE LEG POWER

Most sport and lifestyle activities require us to be explosive, change direction, and jump when only one foot is planted on the ground.  Yet we rarely train single-leg power in the gym.

These three exercises will help fix that.

Explosive Two-Box Step-Up

In most sports, speed and acceleration are critical.  How quick you get off the line, take your first step, or move to the ball is often the factor that separates the good athletes from the great ones.  The challenge with most single-leg exercises is that they require a fairly high degree of balance, which means a lot of effort must be directed toward movement deceleration.

Here’s one way to progress a basic single-leg exercise—the Step-Up—to allow you to keep accelerating through the movement without having to stop to keep your balance.

These can be performed with dumbbells held at your side—for more posterior chain activation—or with a barbell or safety squat bar on your shoulders—for more quadriceps involvement.

Seated Single-Leg Bench Jump to a Box

If you’re looking at completeness of you training program, learning to quickly activate all available force from a dead stop is an important and novel training stimulus.  This ability is typically measured by something called RFP, or Rate of Force Production—the human performance equivalent of a car’s 0-60mph time.

This exercise defuses the Stretch-Shortening Reflex (SSC) that is normally activated during the transition between the lengthening and shortening phase of an exercise.  (Think the elastic rebound you get at the bottom of squat that helps push you back upright).

Avoid bouncing, wiggling, or using a big countermovement in your upper body when seated on the bench.

Start by jumping onto an 18-inch block.  Progressively increase the height of the box in proportion to ability.

Single-Leg Deadlift with Medicine Ball Slam

Eccentric training—where a muscle actively lengthens under tension—is one of the most effective ways to increase overall strength and power output.  Yet most people underutilize or ignore the eccentric component of most exercises.

This is a mistake for two reasons.

First, power is the product of force x velocity. Velocity is a function of speed and force is a function of strength.  With this equation, we know that we can improve running and sprinting speed by increasing the amount of leg strength available per stride.

Second, the ability to control joint position and avoid soft-tissue injuries during high-speed movement is largely a function of eccentric control.

Here, we use a Medicine Ball, thrown downward from an overhead position, to create a rapid lengthening contraction that follows the form of single leg deadlift.  The over-speed of the ball forces the hamstring and glute to decelerate the upper body as it moves toward the ground.

Conclusion

While explosive power training has long been considered the exclusive jurisdiction of the bilateral (two-limbed) lifts, single-leg exercises play an important, sport-specific role in a well-rounded program.

Use single-leg exercises to improve acceleration, rate of force production and contribute to overall power output.

2017-10-06T16:05:09+00:00

About the Author:

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Adam Vogel is the founder of Pure Performance Training. He is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) through the International Sports Science Association, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a certified Functional Movement Screening Specialist (FMS), and Level 1 (KBC) Kettlebell Instructor.