In the third part of our Summer Sports Spotlight, we focus on strength training! This is a last of our three part series on how to increase your sprinting mechanics and get faster. If you are interested in checking out our other articles, check them out here!
Single Leg Squats vs. Bilateral Squats
Let’s look at the differences between the traditional squat and the single leg squat. The traditional bilateral back squat allows you to push a heavy amount of weight, more weight than you can on a single leg. This will help you recruit more muscle fibers to build up your lower body strength. During a back squat the weight is often centered through the heels to ensure the posterior chain is being recruited. Posterior chain recruitment is important to increase the strength of your glutes and hamstrings. Your glutes are primarily involved in hip extension, the key to any running performance.
What makes single leg squat training more effective than traditional squatting if I can’t lift as much each rep?
Well if each leg can lift 135 lbs each leg you’ve actually outdone your bilateral squat by 20 lbs! This is called the bilateral force deficit; in short it means you can lift more by adding the weight of each leg than you can by using both legs together. When looking at the transfer-ability of each squat position, it’s easy to see that single leg squats will directly correlate to your sprinting performance.
First off, a sprint only occurs with one foot on the ground at a time, so mirroring this in training will help strengthen the body unilaterally. This is even essential in correcting muscle imbalances that may be holding back your potential. Second, observe the increased tibial angle in the single leg squater. During a sprint the weight of each step should be focused through your mid-foot, this allows for maximal propulsion through the ground.
Although a mix of both can be good for variety, you can try switching your focus to single leg training. Here are some other single leg exercises that you can incorporate:
- Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts
- Great of developing balance and hamstring recruitment
- Weighted Step Ups
- Great for unilateral hip and knee extension
- Single Leg Glute Bridges
- Add a weight to the hips to add extra difficulty towards your hip extension
By Dave Albaranes