Before I delve into unilateral leg training, let me introduce you to figureathlete.com. The website is designed for female physique athletes who also train to develop asskickingly functional bodies. I love asskickingly functional females, so this is the website for me.

Outside of me being a pervert, the site posts solid, all-around training advice, ranging from nutrition to conditioning, strength training to supplements. It's designed for women, but men can bring in some knowledge nuggets by reading the articles, too.

Unilateral, asskicking hotness

Shameless plug aside, the website posted a great article on Unilateral Leg Training today, titled Sculpting The Perfect Pair of Legs: Unilateral Training. The Author, Alli McKee, included a lot of tips for athletes more interested in performance than asthetics. On the importance of unilateral training, she said,

Regardless of whether you're running, jumping, cutting, or decelerating, it's absolutely imperative to incorporate unilateral strength training techniques and movements into your program.

Not only will they teach your body to be comfortable and strong with action on a single leg, but they'll also serve to prevent injuries through helping you detect and correct any imbalances before injury has occurred.

In my opinion and experience, she's right on the money with this. Think about it, when's the last time you were simultaneously propelling yourself with both feet while training or racing? Wouldn't it make sense to train unilaterally since you race unilaterally?

I like this article, in particular, because she goes beyond the standard lunge, or, god forbid, the one-leg leg press. (tip: never do the one-leg leg press).

She does make the claim that, "I believe (deadlifts and squats) should come second to unilateral leg movements." I think this may place too much emphasis on the single leg movements. I do want to caution readers about over emphasizing "functional training". There is a lot of research and discussion out there about the whole functional training field being a big, steaming pile of shit. In particular, coaches argue that there is a sharp distinction between 'skill-training' and 'strength-training'. They argue that for an athlete to develop functional strength, they should first prioritize raw, weight room strength. Then, the athlete should focus on using this strength in a skill specific manner. These coaches argue that there is no weight room movement that carries directly over to everyday life or to sport. (See here, or here, or here)

Regardless of the amount of priority given to the unilateral leg exercises, there is no doubt that they are useful. Specifically, for the triathlete spending most of his time on the leg press, leg curl, and leg extension nautilus machines, single leg training will wake up your wussy, pencil legs.


Rachel said... @ April 30, 2009 at 6:21 PM

Totally agree. Strength training and plyometrics have protected me from injury AND made me faster. I'm a firm believer.

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