Why Perform Single Leg Exercises
At Parisi Sparta, we continually preach to all of our athletes the importance of completing single leg exercises. Not only do single leg exercises increase balance, allow athletes to lift more weight on their core lifts, and improve stabilization at the ankle, knee, and hip.
The Types of Exercises
The most common single leg exercises we use at Parisi Sparta are step-ups, single leg squats, and reverse lunges. Of these three exercises the split squat is the most applicable exercise for soccer athletes.
The split squat directly mimics kicking in soccer with one leg being the plant foot, while the other extends and then flexes the hip, just as soccer players do when striking a ball.
The Split Squat
When performing a reverse lunge, an athlete should hold dumbbells of the appropriate weight (generally 10-15 pounds in each hand for first timers with a gradual increase up to 30-35 pounds depending on strength and age) at their side and stand with their feet shoulder width apart.
Determine which foot will stay planted first, and then step backwards with other leg into a reverse lunge, both knees should be bent.
Athletes want to shoot their front knee forward to load the hamstrings, all while keeping their head and chest up. To complete the rep athletes need to push off the front foot and drive the back knee forward (repeat for 10 to 8 reps on the same leg and then complete on the second leg).
The split squat targets the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors, which all of the same muscle groups used in kicking. Different variations of split squats can be completed by having the front foot elevated to increase range of motion (ROM) or using a barbell instead of dumbbells, which will target balance for the athlete as well.