1 Leg Stiff-Legged Deadlift

1 Leg Stiff-Legged Deadlifts help with:

  • Balance
  • Picking up small objects off the floor
  • Posture

What it works:

Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves

How to:

  1. Begin by lifting one foot slightly off the ground
  2. Bend forward at the hips using your other leg to counter balance your movement
  3. Squeeze the glutes and hamstrings as you stand back up straight
  4. Do not touch your other foot to the ground until you complete all of the required repitions

Tips:

  • Remember to bend at the hips NOT the back
  • Only lean forward as far as you can while keeping your back straight

Should I Train My Legs?

Over my years training at the gym I have been rather exposed to a common phenomenon. A phenomenon that is found throughout gyms all across the planet. This is the fact that some guys choose not train their legs.

There are a many number of reasons I have found that they choose to neglect this rather large portion of their body from their resistance training regime.

Just last week I was talking to two boys who train at my gym about leg training. They skip this workout every week, their reasoning is that it makes their legs hurt. Being ‘tradies’ (what we call tradesmen in Australia) they spend most of their day on their feet. It would therefore, by their reasoning, be unacceptable to have sore legs the day after a hard leg workout. They make a reasonable point, however the truly bad DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) decreases dramatically by the second and third leg workout and would be much more bearable. So this really isn’t a worthy excuse for skipping leg training.

Let me make it clear at this point that I am not a Squat or Deadlift Nazi who curses anyone who avoids these exercises. I just believe that a resistance training program should exercise your entire body to keep balance and control.

Another reason I’ve been told for not training legs is that the trainee wishes to maintain mobility and flexibility for playing sport. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of and will be the main topic of this article.

Before I go into more detail the final reason I have been told someone doesn’t train legs is due to inflexibility to complete squats, lunges and the like or an injury that prevents mobility. I will also cover these points below and some possible cures to these problems.

Training Legs Will Effect My Performance in Sport

sprinters legsWhen I refer to sport I’m talking about highly mobile and powerful sports like football, rugby, soccer, hockey, athletics, etc. These are sports that people often want to put on more mass to give them an advantage against their opponents.

Weight

Let’s talk about contact sports first (rugby, AFL, ice hockey, etc). Weight can be very important in these sports, when you come up against an opponent you don’t want to ricochet off them. You want to be able to stand your ground and keep moving.

So tell me, how are you supposed to do this with weak legs? Having a large upper body by simple physics will cause you to become top heavy, making it easier to fall.

Leg muscles are some of the largest in your body, building a solid foundation with leg training will add kg’s of weight to your lower body, making you more stable and overall heavier. This in turn will make it easier to crush your opponents.

Speed

Do you think that an Olympic sprinter does not train their legs with weights? These guys have the fastest and biggest legs around, but it’s not all caused by running.

Olympic level sprint training also involves barbell squats, jump squats, lunges and leg pressing. These guys understand the importance of having strong legs and how adding that strength will also add to their speed during a race.

Mobility

tom-platzAs I wrote earlier, restriction of movement is often a concern of the non leg train gym goers. I can see how this concern has arisen.

Everyday at the gym I see bodybuilders stumbling around the gym with rather large, but nonfunctional legs. They are bent over from tight hip flexors and they can’t bend there knees due to tight hamstrings.

There is a very simple solution to this: stretch! Take 15 minutes after 2-3 of your workouts to give your hips and lower body a great stretch out. Tom Platz, infamous for his freakishly large legs, was still able to do the splits.

I Simply Can Not Do The Exercise

This can be a genuine show stopper but is usually treatable.

For example, some guys can’t do barbell squats imply because of an inflexibility in the shoulders that doesn’t allow them to grab the bar. Or they can sit back in the squat enough and come up onto their toes.

The shoulder problem can be treated by regular visits to an Osteopath and good exercise prescription. The leaning forward on the squat is usually a posterior chain weakness which can be fixed by strengthening these muscles.

Keep an eye out for specific exercise cures in the future.

I Have An Injury

Make sure you seek professional help with any muscular or skeletal injuries that you receive.

If you are like me and have bad knees, strengthening your leg muscles with exercise will actually help with this problem. Resistance training causes the supporting muscles to get stronger which therefore puts less strain on your bad joints.

To begin with, slowly work through a limited range of motion and possibly just single joint exercises until you have restrengthened the area. Slowly move to more complex exercises and don’t hesitate to take some time out if the injury flares up again.

Never ever train through an injury as this will just encourage long term damage and a longer recovery period.

Training Legs Means That I won’t Be Able To Fit Into My Pants

Wear shorts… which are far more comfortable and will show off your new sexy calves.

On a more serious note, you don’t need to have huge legs to be strong and powerful. A bodybuilders leg workout will put some serious mass on your legs but not so much functional use. Instead for the sports person I would recommend heavy lifting mixed with plyometrics and circuit training to achieve the best results.

The Bottom Line

Leg training provides many benefits to your performance in sport and day to day activities and should really always be included in your training. So go on, give a set of pistol squats a go today and get some power into those legs!