Boxing Blog

    Why single-leg training is KING!

    Happy Mother’s Day everyone. 

    Really appreciate everyone who has come into the gym over the past week…and especially those who found a way to get into the gym today.  I know, I know – “It’s Mother’s Day” – I totally get it.  But for those of us who are in and working it really does make a BIG difference when we have a few motivated people in the gym to coach!

    Anyway, I have put together a bit of a DIFFERENT blog post today.  And when you start reading you might find yourself saying “But I’m a boxing person…this blog is for the ‘Functional Fitness’ people”…But it’s not.  The training principles it tries to cover off on are for EVERYONE and we can all benefit from thinking about what it means for our own training!

    That said, let me start by saying that – Boxing or Funky – the strength work we do in classes is awesome, particularly for bone density and longevity.  BUT – even though it’s hard, ISO-LATERAL work (single arm/single leg) work really is the KING for long term growth.  Our current ‘training block’ in Functional Fitness includes four (4)x lifts – Front Squat, Deadlifts, Bench Press and Push Jerk (or Lower Push, Lower Pull, Horizontal Press, Vertical Press!) and, for those people getting in 4-sessions each week I am confident they will increase their 3-rep-max during this seven week cycle by at least 10%.  Which is – of course good.  And in our last cycle (we did 5-rep maxes for Sumo Deadlift, Back Squat, Strict Press and Power Clean) we all pretty much improved by 10% over the 7-weeks of that program as well.  So THAT’S even better.

    But the reality is, for my PT stuff and right throughout the Developing Athlete programming (DAP) single leg work (and arm, but mainly single leg) is the #1 priority of the programming.  How come?  Well, in simple terms, the only sport in the world that I can think of that depends on having two feet fixed to the floor when participating is…ROWING?  Is that even the ‘floor’?  Every other sport is based on being able to at the very least transfer weight from one side to the other (golf etc) whereas so many more involve moving from one foot to the other (basically anything that involves running, or change of direction which kind of covers everything we all think of as ‘SPORT’).  So to me, that means that single leg training should really be the cornerstone of sport specific training – and by single leg work it can really mean any number of different movements:
    Split Squats



    Single leg Deadlifts

    Single Leg RDL’s

    Single Leg Glute Raises

    …and of course, all of the variations of each of those movements you want to come up with!  Which is like, a ‘LOT!!’.  Well – it’s a lot for me but I like to think I have a LOT of imagination!

    Essentially – single leg work is the BEST way to prepare athletes for the demands of sport than traditional bi-lateral movements because SPORT is iso-lateral in nature.  And if you are wondering if sport includes playing at the park with your kids or taking the dog for a run, well…you’re right.  And if you think I don’t think of you guys as athletes when I’m sitting down to program classes – well, I absolutely do…and I hope you all think of yourselves in the same way.

    Single leg training forces you to STABILISE and BALANCE – just try standing on one leg and swinging your other leg about the place if you don’t believe me.  Because of this, it is really key to building strength in your glutes (mostly glute medius for those people wondering ‘which one’!) and your adductors.  Further, your core stabilisers (think quad lumborum – those muscles that go from the bottom of your ribs to the top of your pelvis along each side of your spine) are also challenged and strengthened by single leg work.  Basically, these muscles (generally called “QL’s”) need to be heavily activated during single leg leg work in order for you to balance…this is not as necessary during a movement when BOTH feet are on the ground.

    What else?  Pretty much every knee rehab and prehad program in the world is based around single leg movements – from hopping to split squats – because these movements force all of the ligaments in the knee (anterior and posterior cruciate, medial and lateral ligaments AND the patella tendon) to become stronger AND more stable.  Taking the time to do your single leg work both inside and outside of class times is critical for your long-term knee health.

    SO:  How can you ensure you are getting all the isolateral work you need in YOUR program?  First off, we do TRY to program sufficient work into both the boxing and functional classes at the gym – but you have to remember, since YOU (probably) don’t come every day it would be pretty easy for you to miss out not just this week, but next week as well – so you have to have a bit of a plan.  Here’s what I would do.

    1/.  Simple warm-up – 10-15 cals on the bike followed by 10-15 squats unweighted) each one with a pause in the buttom position for 2-3 seconds.

    2/.  Complete 3x Rounds of the following circuit:

    8x Split Squats (each side)

    8x Single leg RDL’s (each side) – rotational – so weight in the OPPOSITE hand to the leg which is on the ground.

    8x (athletes choice) of Front foot elevated OR Back food elevated split Squats.  Change this movement up from week to week.

    8x single leg step-ups each side.  Add a dynamic knee raise to this movement for an extra challenge.

    As for adding weight, well – yeah.  You have to stress to progress.  So maybe start without a weight, then after a couple of weeks add a kettlebell, dumbbell, barbell, slam bag…whatever makes you happy really!  The whole routine will only take 10-12 mins max but the long term benefits of a simple iso-lateral routine like this every week will be long lasting and AMAZING!  I mean who doesn’t want to be stronger and more resistant to injury?

    See you in the gym,



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