You may be returning from an injury or may have had a previous injury that wasn’t rehabilitated well. It could be a serious leg injury or something that's been niggling one of your lower limbs for a while but balancing your strength is key.
After Gee's horrendous crash we needed to focus on regaining Gee's strength and this balance between his good and bad legs. Here are 3 Key Exercises I used with Gee Atherton to improve single leg strength.
- Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats:
The rear foot is lifted on to a bench, and the load is taken through the front leg. This will allow you to compare weak leg versus strong leg, but also help you work the leg through good range – depth is easier to achieve here than when squatting.
If this is too hard, or balance is an issue, try a lunge walk. If this is too easy, add more weight, or use a barbell instead of dumbells.
- Glute Bridge raise:
This targets glutes and hamstrings, the often overlooked muscles of the leg. Slide close to a bench, and place one heel on to the bench, toes pointing up to the ceiling. Lift the other leg off the floor so that thighs are parallel to one another. Drive down through the heel in to the bench and lift hips up. Don’t arch your back or lift chest to get this range, but squeeze your bum. Pause at the top and then lower.
If this is too hard, place both heels on the bench and try to build the pattern with 2 feet. If this is too easy, try adding a load to your waist (like a plate or sand bag) or move further away from the bench, which will place more focus on the hamstrings.
- Single Leg landing:
Stepping off a box and landing on 1 leg in a stable, controlled manner challenges the body to react to the ground and stabilise quickly. It is an eccentric movement which means you are using the muscle as a break – to control the downward movement and resist the fall. This can be scaled as you recover – from a simple low box, or short hop, and then to a higher box, to repeated hops. You can also easily compare the injured side to the stronger side.