A few weeks back, I wrote an article about five of the biggest benefits of single-leg training. If you haven’t read that, take a few minutes and review it first, as I think it gives unique insight into the true role of unilateral training.
And if you want the Cliff’s Notes version, here goes:
Unilateral training isn’t as impactful as bilateral training when it comes to strength and power development, but it should absolutely play a role in your athletic development program.
But including unilateral exercises in your programming is really just the starting point. The next big step is making sure that you’re coaching these exercises effectively, to maximize the performance of your athletes.
As such, here is one of the biggest flaws I see when it comes to unilateral work – an inability to maintain the foot-knee-hip relationship.
Now that you’ve watched the video, here are a few things that you should be focusing on during all of your single-leg and split-stance work:
- Feel the whole foot throughout. In a squat or deadlift the tendency will be to get forward on the toes or back on the heels, but in unilateral exercises there will also be a side-to-side component as well. Try to feel the whole foot throughout so you can push.
- Keep the knee neutral. The obvious example here is not to allow the knee to cave inwards relative to the foot and hip, but you can go too far in the opposite direction as well. Slamming the knee excessively out to the side creates inversion/supination at the foot, and drive dysfunctional mechanics throughout the lower extremity.
- Move from static to dynamic work. While I didn’t discuss this in the video, if someone struggles to maintain the foot-knee-hip relationship, start them in a half-kneeling position first and foremost. Work on controlling this relationship through the trunk and lower extremity, while adding movement up top. Once the athlete has demonstrated control here, then progress to more dynamic exercises such as split-squats and lunges.
Maintaining the foot-knee-relationship may not seem like a big deal, but it should be an integral component of your unilateral training program.
Coach this up the next time you’re in the gym, and I guarantee your athletes will see better results.
All the best