Prevent Injuries By Training One Leg At A Time
Every joint in your body is cushioned by muscles that generate and control your movement. But if muscles on one side of your joint become too tight from overuse, it could lead to the muscles on the other side of your body becoming weak from lack of use. This is called a muscle imbalance.
A lack of balance between muscle groups (especially in the lower limbs) can result in injuries and diminished performance.
What if we told you it was possible to prevent these injuries by simply training one leg at a time?
The risks of an imbalanced body
Muscle imbalances act as a barrier to strength training, running, or maintaining a consistent exercise routine.
When we have a muscle imbalance, our body will attempt to overcompensate. This often manifests in the form of quad or glute dominance on one side of the body, leaving us prone to hip or calf strains on the weaker side.
When the body overcompensates for an extended period, it can negatively affect our muscles and joints and increase injury risk.
How training one leg at a time can help fight muscle imbalance
When training muscle groups in both legs, one leg may overcompensate for the other. Training one leg at a time isolates and works out each unique muscle group.
When practicing single and dual-leg training, you can feel the difference in overall muscle and individual leg strength. Long term, this will lead to fewer injuries.
The most efficient single-leg exercises
Squats have a reputation for being one of the most effective workouts for your legs.
- Start by grabbing your Axle Barbell and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Tighten your abs and begin to lower your hips as if sitting in a chair
- Keep your back straight and eyes up
- Stop once your legs are parallel to the floor, then slowly return to the starting position
- Perform three sets of 10 repetitions
Once you get the hang of this exercise, you can try it with one leg resting bent behind your body. Give yourself additional support by placing a chair behind you to sit on when you squat down or to rest your non-active leg on top of.
It's best to start this exercise without weights, but if you're up for the challenge, begin with a few plates on your Axle Barbell and tack on more from there. This is also the perfect workout to incorporate into your at-home strength training routine!
Also known as Romanian deadlifts, single-leg RDLs work your hamstrings, glutes and hip flexor. This home workout is ideal for improving balance and overall mobility.
- Begin standing on one leg with your Axle Barbell in hand in front of your thigh
- Flex the knee on your standing leg to activate your glutes
- Keep your back arched and, using your hips, hinge forward until your torso is almost parallel to the floor
- As you stand, squeeze your glutes and hamstring, drive in your heel, and push your hips forward
- Perform three sets of 10 repetitions for each leg
Single-leg hamstring curl
Although hamstring curls are often performed on a gym machine, this is an easy workout to modify for home.
- Begin by securing the end of your Axle Strength Band to something sturdy
- Place the band around one ankle and lie down on your stomach
- Bend your active leg and pull your heel toward your buttocks
- Keep your hips and thighs anchored to the ground
- Flex your hamstring muscle, pulling as close as you can to your buttocks
- Release your active leg slowly back to the starting position
- Perform three sets of 15 repetitions for each leg
Single-leg calf raise
Similar to a standard calf raise, you can try this exercise with your Axle Barbell on your shoulders or without weights.
- Begin with your feet hip-width apart and your toes facing forward
- Place your weight on one foot and raise your heel off the floor
- Squeeze your calves with every rep
- Perform two sets of 30 repetitions for each leg
Single-leg weighted wall sit
This is one of the simplest at-home leg workouts you can do.
- Stand with your back against a wall
- Place one foot on the ground and the other leg up in the air
- Bend your knee and slide down until your active knee is at a 90-degree angle
- Place one of your Axle Olympic Plates on top of your thigh
- Hold this position for 30 seconds
- Perform two sets of 30-second reps for each leg