Single Leg Training by Mike Robertson
Mike Robertson recently put up an article about Single Leg Training.
Mike has said that the most important reason why single leg training can benefit lifters is because it helps work on stability – and this stability factor is the main reason why all trainees can benefit from Single Leg Training.
He compares Squats vs. Leg Presses and discusses Base of Stability between Unilateral, Split Stance, Traditional and Powerlifting Squats.
He raises a point which I think is really important:
The goal of single-leg and split-stance training is to improve your stability so that when you go back to your bilateral lifts, you're inherently more stable and can use more weight!
I have personally found that if I take time off from training and all I do in this time off is just Pistol Squats, when I come back to training regularly, my Front Squats hardly take a hit. I have also been able to develop such a sturdy Front Squat mainly because of my time playing with Pistol Squats. I have worked on both the rep-end of the spectrum wherein I was doing 15-20 reps and I have been at the other end Pistol Squatting 100 lbs of dumbbell resistance added to my body.
I think that doing Pistol Squats is really great.
Another Unilateral Exercise which I like is Unilateral Deadlifts. I think they’re great – they are “faith” exercises and really help my knees/hamstrings feel better.
Another point which Mike brings up is:
Just because you're strong doesn't mean you're inherently stable, especially if you're getting much of your stability from supportive gear and manipulating biomechanics.
I have seen SO many big strong lifters who refuse to acknowledge the importance of Unilateral training mostly because it diminishes their lifts (it’s a convoluted way of thinking) which hurts their ego or they simply don’t believe doing it can benefit them because they’re so accomplished. Also, they discount these exercises because for them to learn something new they’d have to put more dedicated time and effort into it and that would mean putting something else on maintenance and who wants to do that, right? Not for something which doesn’t look half as badass as a huge pull or squat!
Well, I agree with Mike on this as well, naturally. I think big guys who are incredibly stable can out-lift anybody.
Mike raises another point which really seals the deal:
It's like asking which is better between a hammer, a wrench, and a screwdriver. They're all important, and each one has value in certain situations. All it really comes down to is your needs and goals. The more external stability you have, the more prime mover activation you can get.
Damn well put! There is nothing more which I can add to this!
Mike goes on to discuss how bodybuilders devote time on machines because they aren’t training to be functional. At the end of it, debating between squats, leg presses and pistol squats is like asking which tool is the best: a hammer, a wrench or a saw. The truth is: they’re ALL important because they are all tools. With regard to Unilateral Training, you want the biggest bang for your buck because the most difficult exercise will help your strongest lift.
Single-leg work absolutely plays a role as well. I don't think you're going to become a monster by focusing solely on your step-up and split-squat for the next 10 years, but you can definitely improve your stability and performance by incorporating them into your program.
This is true. Small stuff like this can go a long way.
I'm over debating which one is "superior." I really don't care. You're free to do and train however you want. If something helps you achieve your goals, good for you. The goal (at least for me and my athletes) is simple: To be able to train hard and stay healthy, for as long as possible.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."