Why You Need More Single-leg Work
Squats and deadlifts may always be king, but they're certainly not everything. While they both allow you to use maximal weights and hit major muscle groups, they also have a few negative repercussions and may not stimulate growth in all the muscles that need it.
When we stand on one leg, as in a one-leg squat, we engage three muscles that we don't use in a regular two-leg squat: the gluteus medius, the adductors, and the quadratus lumborum.
While we won't bore you with a science lesson, the takeaway point is this: if you don't work these three muscles, you're setting yourself up for injury since your primary movers (quads, hamstrings, and glutes) will overpower these smaller stabilizer muscles.
Dumbbell training for upper-body has long been accepted (think rows, dumbbell bench presses, etc.), but single-leg training has had trouble gaining popularity. Lunges? Split squats? Those are wussy exercises, right?
Here are three exercises that hit the smaller, stabilizing leg muscles and will help you add some more size to your legs.
Oh and let us know how you get on with these in the forums! - Why You Need More Single-leg Work Discussion Thread
Bulgarian Split Squat
Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand about three feet in front of a bench, holding the dumbbells at your side. Place your right foot on the bench behind you, with the top of your foot on the bench. Lower your body until your left knee is at least 90 degrees and your right knee comes close to touching the floor. Stand back up. That's one rep.
Grab some dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a long step back with your left leg, placing the ball of your foot on the floor. Drop down until your left knee almost touches the floor. Your torso should be upright. Step back into the starting position. Do all your reps with you left leg then switch.
Grab some dumbbells and place one foot on a bench or high-box with your foot flat. Push down with that food and raise your body until you're standing straight and your trailing foot touches the step. Immediately lower your trailing foot back to the floor and start the next rep. Switch legs after you've finished all the reps for that leg. (Also, don't push off from the floor with your nonworking leg.
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