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Essential Lower Body Training for All Athletes

Essential Lower Body Training for Athletes

One of the biggest mistakes you’ll see in a strength program designed for athletes (or anyone for that matter) is the exclusion on unilateral lower body work.  Of course the foundational compound movements like the bench, squat, deadlift, military press, power clean & press, pull-ups, etc. have to be there.

But the supplemental work pulls everything together.   Common lower body unilateral exercises include; lunges, step-ups, Bulgarian split squats, power skips, one leg glute bridges and one leg hip extensions on bench.

In addition to building a well balanced program, unilateral lower body work will also reveal imbalances that are “masked” with conventional bilateral barbell work.

Does the athlete shift left or right when performing lunges?

Does the athlete fall forward during db step-ups?

Everything you have the athlete do is a screening opportunity for you as a coach.  Always be watching!

Benefits of Unilateral Lower Body Training

  • stabilization of appropriate lower kinetic segments (ankles, knees, hips, torso)
  • mobility of appropriate lower kinetic segments (ankles, hips)
  • balance, coordination, proprioception
  • torso rigidity
  • mental toughness / acuity / alertness
  • improved reactivity
  • charged CNS
  • dynamic stretching of the hips, glutes and hamstrings

How to Modify Unilateral Lower Body Training

  • overloaded – with chains, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, barbells, weight vest, partner’s bodyweight
  • explosive – done explosively
  • static – EQI’s
  • barefoot – all done barefoot, highly recommended!
  • hybrids – movement of the upper body independent of the lower body’s movement, ie.  lunges with twist

In the article today, I will be showing you two advanced unilateral lower body exercises.  Both should be done once the athlete demonstrates proficiency in their progressive transitional components.

Braced Bulgarian Split Squats

Key Coaching Points:

  1. Upright torso posture
  2. Brace core outward, and hold isometrically
  3. Center weight in the middle of your foot and anchor foot by grabbing floor with your toes

Explosive Bulgarian Split Jumps

Key Coaching Points:

  1. Spend as little time on the ground as possible
  2. Explode up as hard as possible and flow between reps without stopping
  3. Stay upright as possible throughout the movement

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3 Responses to “Essential Lower Body Training for All Athletes”

  1. Don Brovero Says:

    Smitty – A couple months ago you sent me some ideas for a progressive warm-up routine for the kids I am training. I wanted to let you know it was working great!!!! They love the lunges with twists. Thanks.
    Don

  2. Coach Mike Says:

    In the past I have used split Bulgarian dead lifts using heavy dumbbells to build lower body strength fast in wrestlers. They hate it! It works!

  3. Best Diesel 2010 Fitness Articles :: Diesel Strength & Conditioning | Innovative Strength Training for Athletes Says:

    […] Essential Lower Body Training […]

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