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The Single-Leg Solution: Detailed Product Review

Written on May 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm, by Eric Cressey

About a year ago, Mike Robertson came out with an outstanding product, The Single-Leg Solution – and it reminded me of an experience I once had at a seminar.  A guy posed the following question to a panel of speakers in which I was included:

“If you could only choose one exercise to do, what would it be?”

We all agreed that it was a pretty stupid and unrealistic question, but reluctantly, we each answered.  In spite of my distaste for the question, I responded without hesitation: “Lunges – or any single-leg exercise, for that matter.”

In my eyes, single-leg work really is that valuable – and for a lot of reasons.

single-legsolution

(Gold star to none other than me for thinking of up the title for him.  Booyeah.)

So why is single-leg work the best thing since sliced bread?

First, there is obviously going to be some direct carryover to the functional demands of life and athletics, as we spend most of our life on one foot in one capacity or another.  Muscular recruitment patterns are different for bilateral and unilateral exercises, so in terms of specificity, single-leg work really can’t be beat.

Second, it’s much more lower-back friendly, as you can load single-leg exercises appreciably without axial loading.  And, to take it a step further, it is easier to maintain neutral spine (and avoid lumbar flexion with compressive loading) with a split-stance – regardless of whether you axially load or hold the weights in the hands at one’s sides.  Simply stated, while single-leg exercises will never (at least in my eyes) take the place of squatting and deadlifting, they are absolutely essential supplemental exercises for one’s training repertoire.

Third, in the case of back pain (or hip pain, with femoroacetebular impingement being an example), they’re hugely helpful in allowing one to maintain a training effect in spite of whatever pain is present.

Fourth, single-leg exercises are hard.  Let’s face it: most people exercise like pansies and pick the exercises they like the most, not the ones that they need the most – or the ones that are the hardest.  This is 225 pounds for eight pretty effortless reps, which makes girls want him and guys want to be him (or something like that).

Fifth, Robertson insists they are good, and this guy knows as much about knees as anyone I’ve ever met.  If you want to keep your wheels strong and healthy for the long-term, including them is a no-brainer.

This is just five reasons to include single-leg work in your programming, and frankly, Mike includes a heck of a lot more in the 96-page tag-along manual that accompanies the 60-minute DVD in The Single-Leg Solution Package.

Knowing that single-leg work is important isn’t enough, though, as I see exercise enthusiasts and fitness professionals alike absolutely butchering the technique on these exercises.  And, they have absolutely no rhyme or reason for the “who, what, when, where, why” they include them; it is just throwing a wad of turd on the wall to see what sticks.  Optimal progress is dependent on population-specific exercise selection, pristine technical execution, and pinpoint exercise progressions – and this is where Mike really shines with this product.

So, whether you’re a personal trainer, bodybuilder, powerlifter, runner with knee pain, desk jockey with a bad back, or just some random dude who wants to get stronger, move better, and be just a little more awesome, I’d highly encourage you to check out The Single-Leg Solution..

single-legsolution

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  • Herman

    Hey Eric what would you do for a person who has range of motion problems in one ankle/calf. My knee isn’t tracking properly are lunges still a good idea?

  • Andrew

    Great post. I agree that single-leg exercises are some of the best exercises around. What do you recommend for multiplanar movements in the lower body? I think I am going to order this book, I have a lot of athletes who come to me with low back and knee injuries and I know how to do the corrective part, so I need some education in implementing exercises that would help in activation and regeneration of the quads and other musculature around the knee.

  • http://professionalbaseballtraining.com josh

    Great statement about how people always tend to lean toward exercises that they like vs. one’s that they need.

    My personal favorite(/most hated!) is the bularian split squat with the front foot elevated about 6 inches. My hammy’s and glutes scream for days after those.

  • Kevin Will

    Great post. Before I went to cressey performance I had barely ever done single leg work in my whole life and I cant tell you the difference it feels on my hip pain. Also, doing dumbell lunges after Squats and Glute Ham Raises while your legs are already dieing and your forearms are begging you to stop is fuckin GHETTO!!!

  • http://www.josephcoyne.com Joseph Coyne

    Nice reply to the question Eric! It is like everything though – all exercises have their place whether they be unilateral or bilateral. It’s all a matter of who is completing them and how qualified they are training wise.

  • George Byng

    If you want to try a full body exercise using single leg training do split style Olympic clean and jerk in sets of 4 to 10 reps with up to bodyweight poundage using alternate legs per rep.
    At 165 lbs bwt I did sets of 10 with that weight at age 30 and 270 lbs for 5 reps squat style.
    Now aged 73,bwt 170 lbs can do 120 lbs for sets of 4 reps.George Byng(Director of Coaching)
    Weightlifting Scotland

  • http://www.FlemingtonBootCamps.com Marie

    Thanks for the post! I always include single leg work in my workouts (and clients/boot campers) and now I can give my clients 5 solid reasons why. :)

  • http://prodigefittips.wordpress.com Lisa

    I love love love single leg work. They burn while doing them, hurt for days after, but they are highly effective. I always include some sort of single leg work in my clients programs.
    Thanks for the great post Eric!

  • Virgil Aponte

    Excellent post. And excellent videos. Thanks Eric.

  • Charlie

    Hi Eric,
    What kind of leg work would you recommend for wake-/snowboarding, where both feet are locked in position on the board. And thanks for the great articles !


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