A Pain Free Approach to Training Your Legs
If this sounds interesting to you, do yourself a favor…. LUNGE MORE, SQUAT LESS.
Don’t get me wrong I love squatting and think its the number one lower body variation to prep you for a Weightlifting platform. That said an over reliance on the barbell and typical bilateral squat variations (back, front, and overhead) can lead to problems both big and small.
As an example I love reviewing a conversation that I had years ago with Andrew Killion.
At the time Andrew was coaching CrossFit Games athlete Jenn Jones. During the conversation he detailed how a single leg strength assessment demonstrated that Jenn’s single leg strength capacity on one leg, was equal to her current back squat 1 rep max. The other leg was about 100 pounds of capacity off the mark!
To me this was a shocking result. It demonstrated that barbell and bilateral squat patterns do allow more dominate muscle groups to compensate for others. This compensation lowers an athletes overall capacity and potentially heightens their risk of an acute injury.
After the assessment Andrew and Jenn went to work to balancing out the discrepancy, exclusively training single leg variations. The results eventually leg to a bigger back squat for Jenn, along with increases across the board in other other squat patterns, including the olympic lifts.
For more details from that chat go here.
Since that conversation with Andrew I have always made it a point to practice and program single leg auxiliary work with most programmed squats.
You are only limited by your creativity when coming up with these variations. As an example I wiped up five lunge variations that you can progress and practice today. Note to reader, by “wiped” up I am not claiming to have invented these variations! I was simply playing in my garage one Sunday getting a head start on low body auxiliary focuses for my next training cycle.
3 – Single Arm Front rack Lunge
Ill be including these variation for the next 6-8 weeks post back and front squat, and also on days that I call bonus efforts. On these days I dismiss the barbell and my total all together.
For unsolicited programming advice these lunge variations should contrast the squatting you are using at the front of your strength session. For instance, after working to your heavy 1-3 rep Back Squat, pair one of these variations with a press or pull and trunk piece as a superset to close a session.
With Urgency, but not for time, rotate through the following movements and reps for 10 minutes*.
Single Arm Suitcase Lunge (loaded Rt) x 8
Hollow Rocks x 20
Single Arm Suitcase Lunge (Load Lt) x 8
Chin Rows x 20
*When you look at this superset take note that I am a Weightlifter. I generally work for reps under 3-5 and go overhead a good bit. For me, contrast means higher reps, more body weight drills, horizontal pulls and presses, and incorporating more movement in general.
Should you stop squatting all together and just practice single leg work like Jenn?
The short answer, and you’ll hate this, is it depends.
The answer depends on what the assessment your coach prescribed tells you, and why you are squatting in the first place.
A 22 year old nationally ranked Weightlifter looking to make an International team will have different factors to consider than a middle aged, part time PE teacher, who lifts and coaches the olympic lifts as a side hustle!
What isn’t up for debate is that no matter why you want to chase leg gains a sound training plan should be progressing, assessing, and testing bilateral, unilateral and unconventional squat patterns regularly.
If I were to hang my hat on anything its operating pain free and injury free for the total of my training life. Yes I get tweaks but can say with great pride I am break free, surgery free, and have never been forced on the couch because of a freak athletic occurrence. At the same time I can jump into most activities with the wife, kiddos, and from time to time hit Weightlifting meet and do pretty well.
If you are interested in lifting pain free and enjoying the process reply to this email or set up a FREE consult today!
Happy Training Folks… and please consider this thought…
Pains don’t mean gains