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Oklahoma Sports and Fitness January/February 2013 : Page 25

The purpose of this article is to build a case for training movement patterns over individual muscle groups, re-evaluate your current training plan, and show the benefits of finding a competent professional in your area to perform an individual movement screen to expose your weaknesses. Six Extremely Effective Single-Leg Exercises Building the Case for Movement Training During movement, humans don’t typically think about one individual muscle. In fact, the brain does not even recognize individual muscular activity. Instead, our brain recognizes movement patterns and creates the coordination and integration of all the involved muscles for that specific or general pattern. This results in something called a motor program. Many fitness and recreational activities have similar movement patterns and many motor programs overlap so the body can conserve energy and storage space. This is a very important concept! Your current level of mobility (freedom of movement at a joint) and stability will influence your motor program (your movement). We all have imbalances to some extent from our desk jockey lifestyle. Parts of our body are stiff that were designed to move, and other parts are moving that were designed to be stable and not move. This leads to dysfunction at joints and faulty motor programs and movement patterns. The direct result of your reduced mobility and stability forces you to alter the correct motor program by compensating with whatever mobility or stability you currently have. This creates a faulty motor program that is only further reinforced every time you go in and train with faulty movement mechanics. The fact that other motor programs and movement patterns overlap on top of this faulty one (remember they overlap to save storage space in your noggin) will cause more compensation in other movements and ultimately injury, or at the very least sub-optimal performance. It’s like adding a second or third story to a house built on quicksand -disaster is going to strike sooner or later. Include these exercises to improve your hip mobility, ankle mobility, single leg stability, core strength, and strengthen the muscles of the posterior chain: including your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and lower back. Single-leg movements also help correct imbalances that occur from training mainly bilateral movements. For each of these exercises, practice with no weight to perfect the movements before adding any weight. Single-Leg Deadlift. Stand holding weights in front of your thighs. Keeping the shoulders back, abs in, and the back straight, tip from the hips and lower the weights towards the floor, lifting one leg behind you. Lower as far as your flexibility allows. You can bend the knee slightly if you need to. Push into the heel to go back to starting position. Single-Leg Pistol Squat. This is a great test of both leg strength and balance. Start by standing on one leg, squat down to the position pictured at left, then press back up with just that single leg. The base foot should remain flat on the ground, and the shin is lean -ing forward with the knee over the toes. Sled Push. The primary purpose of is to build lower body power so you can increase the amount of force you put into the ground. This exercise also improves anaerobic endurance, which powers short bursts of strength and speed. There are points in time where only one leg is in contact with the ground, so focus on driving each leg and improving the amount of force with each stride. Start with hands on sled in front with body at 45-degree angle, and powerfully drive legs to begin sprinting. Weighted Lunges. This exercise works several low-er body muscle groups at one time. Stand with your feet together, abs engaged and your shoulder blades pulling down for stabilization. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and relax your arms by your sides. Step about 2 feet forward with your right foot, transferring your weight to the front foot without leaning forward. Bend both knees and lower your hips toward the floor. The heel of your back foot should naturally lift off the floor so that you are balancing on your toes. Push through your front foot to bring your feet back together and return to a standing position. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift. Regular single-leg deadlifts recruit your quads and soleus in addition to your lower back, where the advanced romanian deadlifts also target your glutes and hamstring. Perform the exercise as you would a regular single-leg deadlift, but instead of allowing the back leg to dangle limply, extend your leg straight behind you. Single-Leg Good Mornings. Stand with your legs slightly apart and hold a barbell across your upper back and shoulders. Transfer your weight to one foot and lift your other foot off the floor. Maintain your balance, keeping your back straight, and bend your torso forward. Contract your hamstrings and glutes to return to the standing position. Straightening your supporting leg during the exercise lengthens the hamstrings. which will improve flexibility. Training Movements for Muscle Imbalances Focusing on training movement patterns will remedy the imbalances and weaknesses that you have acquired from using a body part split. When the focus is on training muscles, most people inevitably train what they can see in the mirror -or muscles they enjoy training. This neglects the muscles that hold everything together in the grand scheme of things. The usual outcome is shoulder issues, low back pain, neck pain, or the lack of progress overall, which is a huge pain in the neck. When focusing on movement patterns, especially vertical and horizontal pulling movements such as chin ups and rows, you give your shoulders and neck a break along with providing more muscular balance to your training. You help to eliminate pain and improve your performance. Training Movements for Improved Mobility and Stability Mobility is a building block for movement, and stability is an absolute pre-requisite for any kind of muscular strength. Using machines, focusing on individual muscles, and relying predominately on single joint isolation only marginally challenges the demand for stability and grossly neglects mobility at your joints. If you want to move better and ultimately improve your performance in sporting events (or just look good), you need to incorporate movements that challenge your mobility and stability. Training Movements for More Muscle In order to transform your body, you must give it a physiological reason to change. For example, if you want to gain muscle mass, you must strive to become stronger and lift heavier weights. This requires your body to See Magic Movement , page 27 OKSPORTSANDFITNESS.COM | JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2013 25

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