For sure, one-legged exercises and jump training should be a big part of your workouts. These exercises can be performed as strength or power (full speed) exercises. Full speed exercises will burn more fat.
One lower body exercise that should be in your program is one-legged step ups (pictured above). This exercise is done one leg at a time to force each leg to work evenly (you can’t cheat). For example, you would do 10 repetitions with your right leg and then 10 repetitions with your left leg. The hanging leg should not touch the bench and you should lower your body under control. This exercise can also be done with dumbbells to increase resistance.
Do the step up this way:
–Face a bench or platform (knee high) and put your right foot on the bench. Your knee should be bent 90 degrees. Don’t do this exercise with dumbbells until you have mastered the bodyweight version.
–As you lift your body on your right leg, keep your body erect (don’t bend over) and look straight ahead. Balance on your leg for 1-2 seconds and descend. Don’t let your left foot touch the platform.
–Do all required repetitions on the right leg and switch to left leg.
You may have to start with a platform lower than knee-high. Your hamstrings and butt will be worked more with a higher platform.
Do you have one leg stronger (or smaller) than the other?……one good way to correct this problem is to do one-legged exercises….this will also improve your balance.
Other good exercises would be one-legged squats and lunges.
Studies show that 20-30% of female athletes have one leg significantly weaker than the other leg. If a female has a muscle weakness of 15% or greater from one leg to the other, she is about 3 times more likely to suffer a leg/knee injury.
Training should be customized to strengthen the weaker leg and bring it up to par (or close) with the stronger leg. Equal or similar strength in legs will improve your dynamic balance (keeping center of gravity over a constantly changing base of support) and reduce chances of injury.
You should also mix in jump training. Jump training has many benefits which include: burning body fat, strengthening bones and increasing power.
Jump training is high intensity training, placing great stress on the bones, joints, and connective tissue. Jump training places you at greater risk of injury than less intense training exercises. It is important to perform the exercises correctly before implementation of full-speed exercises.
Jumping and landing techniques should be mastered. Exercises should be performed on safe surfaces such as rubber mats, sprung floors, grass or sand. Concrete or other similar hard surfaces expose you to injury. And, you should have good core and lower body strength to reduce chances of injury.
So you ask, where do I start? A good place to start is with an exercise you learned in kindergarden: jumping rope! There are many variations of jumping rope: two legs, one leg, alternating legs, shuffles, slalom, etc. You can progress to eventually jumping rope at full speed. Jumping rope is one of the best exercises for burning calories, burning fat, increasing bone density and improving coordination/balance.
Other good jump exercise are squat jumps, tuck jumps, side-to-side hops, front-to-back hops and pike jumps.
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Her Fitness Hut