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The Power of The Single Leg

Posted by tdifranc on May 26, 2010

It is no secret that single leg exercises have multiple benefits in the world of performance enhancement.  Whatever “performance” means to you, it certainly involves some amount of single leg strength and stability.  If you don’t think so then remember that every time you walk you spend a brief period of time on one leg.  What happens if the primary hip abductors (gluteus medius/minimus) are significantly weak? Hip adduction occurs during single leg stance, or in other words, the hip appears to drop on that side.  This is known as Trendelenburg’s gait or stance.

Every step you take and/or period of time you spend on a single leg, your glute medius/minimus is “fired up” and actively helping to avoid hip adduction or drop…as long as it is strong! Hint….this is why single leg exercises do such a great job of strengthening hip abductors including the gluteus minimus/medius.

If the glute medius/minimus among other hip abductor muscles are weak (even just a little weak), this creates big issues!  We spend lots of time in a single leg stance, so over and over again (whether it is a visible impairment or not), you may be suffering micro-stress through the low back, the hip or even the knee.

Just because the malfunction is in the hip abductor group does not mean that the micro-trauma will occur there.  Yes the hips need to be mobile but they also need to be strong!  Weak hips can direct forces into the low back and/or the knees.

Do you have sore knees and a sore back??? If you answered “YES” to both of those then my question to you is how strong are your hips and how often do you train single leg strength and power at the gym???

In the video above you will see nearly perfect execution of an unloaded single leg dead lift variation.  Obviously to get STRONG you need to LOAD those muscles with heavy weights but you shouldn’t be doing that if you can’t do what you see in the video! Other benefits of the SLDL and SL exercises across the board include (but are not limited to) : isometric control of the abdominals, posterior chain stability/strength development, and ankle mobility.

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