Single Leg Strength

Posted: October 5, 2018

Lower body strength is an essential aspect for many different sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, football, and many more. Often, athletes assume that this means they need to perform lots of squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc. Though this is true, and these are great exercises, they are generally bilaterally focused. (Bilateral refers to something that involves engaging both sides of the body, or in this case, both legs.)

It is crucial for athletes to train bilaterally, but it is also just as important for them to train unilaterally, meaning incorporating in single-leg exercises. Stability on both legs is crucial for athletes in lower body-dominant sports for a variety of reasons.

First, it prevents many injuries that could arise if the athlete lands wrong on one leg, or simply has weakness on one side. There are several major injuries that could be prevented if the athlete’s trainer(s) are making sure to train both sides equally.  Second, it exposes imbalances that are otherwise hidden in bilateral exercises. Most athletes are one side dominant, and this can create an evident imbalance with their non-dominant side. Therefore, both sides must be trained the same in order to eliminate these tendencies. Finally, training unilaterally will increase overall strength because both sides will be even stronger than before. Therefore, athletes’ overall strength will increase significantly and imbalances will no longer lead to a decrease in overall strength.

Furthermore, when training unilaterally with your athletes, make sure to incorporate in a variety of exercise. Whether that be single leg glute bridges, single leg straight leg deadlifts, single leg box squats, rear foot elevated split squats, or any other variety of single leg exercises, your athletes need to learn to frequently adapt to these new exercises in their training programs.


Taylor Rowden is a Strength Coach at Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Lake Forest, California. Taylor graduated from the Master's University with a degree in Kiniesiology with an emphasis on sports injury and exercise science.