Written on May 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm, by Eric Cressey
About a year ago, Mike Robertson came out with an outstanding product, The Single-Leg Solution – and it reminded me of an experience I once had at a seminar. A guy posed the following question to a panel of speakers in which I was included:
“If you could only choose one exercise to do, what would it be?”
We all agreed that it was a pretty stupid and unrealistic question, but reluctantly, we each answered. In spite of my distaste for the question, I responded without hesitation: “Lunges – or any single-leg exercise, for that matter.”
In my eyes, single-leg work really is that valuable – and for a lot of reasons.
(Gold star to none other than me for thinking of up the title for him. Booyeah.)
So why is single-leg work the best thing since sliced bread?
First, there is obviously going to be some direct carryover to the functional demands of life and athletics, as we spend most of our life on one foot in one capacity or another. Muscular recruitment patterns are different for bilateral and unilateral exercises, so in terms of specificity, single-leg work really can’t be beat.
Second, it’s much more lower-back friendly, as you can load single-leg exercises appreciably without axial loading. And, to take it a step further, it is easier to maintain neutral spine (and avoid lumbar flexion with compressive loading) with a split-stance – regardless of whether you axially load or hold the weights in the hands at one’s sides. Simply stated, while single-leg exercises will never (at least in my eyes) take the place of squatting and deadlifting, they are absolutely essential supplemental exercises for one’s training repertoire.
Third, in the case of back pain (or hip pain, with femoroacetebular impingement being an example), they’re hugely helpful in allowing one to maintain a training effect in spite of whatever pain is present.
Fourth, single-leg exercises are hard. Let’s face it: most people exercise like pansies and pick the exercises they like the most, not the ones that they need the most – or the ones that are the hardest. This is 225 pounds for eight pretty effortless reps, which makes girls want him and guys want to be him (or something like that).
Fifth, Robertson insists they are good, and this guy knows as much about knees as anyone I’ve ever met. If you want to keep your wheels strong and healthy for the long-term, including them is a no-brainer.
This is just five reasons to include single-leg work in your programming, and frankly, Mike includes a heck of a lot more in the 96-page tag-along manual that accompanies the 60-minute DVD in The Single-Leg Solution Package.
Knowing that single-leg work is important isn’t enough, though, as I see exercise enthusiasts and fitness professionals alike absolutely butchering the technique on these exercises. And, they have absolutely no rhyme or reason for the “who, what, when, where, why” they include them; it is just throwing a wad of turd on the wall to see what sticks. Optimal progress is dependent on population-specific exercise selection, pristine technical execution, and pinpoint exercise progressions – and this is where Mike really shines with this product.
So, whether you’re a personal trainer, bodybuilder, powerlifter, runner with knee pain, desk jockey with a bad back, or just some random dude who wants to get stronger, move better, and be just a little more awesome, I’d highly encourage you to check out The Single-Leg Solution..
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