Single leg exercises can be challenging for multiple reasons, but for many people, BALANCE is where the struggle really lies. The ability to stand on one foot is lost on some people, and that loss of balance is why, as we age, there is a greater risk for falls.
When it comes to being able to balance on one foot, there are two types to look at; static and dynamic. Static is simply standing on one foot without movement. Have you ever been asked to stand on one foot and hold it? That's the static balance right there. Dynamic balance involves going through movement patterns, and that's what we're focusing on here. Being able to do these exercises on one foot, without falling over or looking like a Weeble. Remember Weebles? "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down."
The benefits of single-leg exercises are tremendous when it comes to developing strength and stability. However, balance can be one of the limiting factors when it comes to getting the most out of a single leg exercise.
The Cue to End All Cues
When setting up for a single-leg exercise like a split squat or single leg deadlift, it's not uncommon to see people just go for it. They set up in the position and go through the motions of the exercise and this is where the error occurs.
Next time you're in the gym, watch someone do lunges, Bulgarian split squats, or single leg RDL's. Just observe the wobble. It'll be there.
It all starts with creating tension and creating intent for that individual exercise. It's important to move with intent and focus so that you get the most out of your training. If you're not putting all you can into each exercise, then what is the end result? You don't get as much out of it, or you struggle with it and become frustrated. In order to improve balance during single-leg exercises, there is one cue that should always be remembered, and its one I use with clients often:
"Push The Ground Away" or "Push Into The Ground"
Set yourself up and push your foot/leg into the ground so hard that you try to move the earth beneath you. What this will do is ground you to the floor and send tension throughout your entire body, from the foot on up. Keeping that tension will turn your core, hips, and glutes on and give you the stability you'll need to complete the exercise. Try it next time you have a single-leg exercise to do. You'll think it was magic!