Leg Training: An Advanced Neuromuscular Program”
Tournament & Training Camp Considerations”
NEUROMUSCULAR LEG TRAINING
All strength and power sport athletes need
to develop high levels of leg strength for optimal performance.
Leg strength contributes to speed, power, balance, and agility,
key components in almost all sports. Traditional resistance
training programs typically overlook single-leg exercises
due to their difficulty and awkwardness. This is unfortunate
because single-limb training is extremely important in developing
sport-performance skills, as well as being of assistance
in the development of muscle size and strength.
I am very excited about this lower body resistance
training program as it is specifically directed toward athletes
and athletic movements. I believe this program will be found
efficient, effective, stimulating, novel, and exciting to
athletes concerned with their performance. Single-leg training
enables the athlete to visual the transfer of training to
sport-specific movements and fosters a desire to continue
improving in these exercises.
The workout has taken traditional resistance
exercises and modified them to incorporate either more muscles
OR more sport-specific actions to increase the transfer
to the actual sport action. This type of training fully
prepares the athlete for pre-season plyometric, speed, and
agility training, especially in power sports such as basketball
and hockey and also in sports that require high demands
of balance such as figure skating and alpine skiing.
Compound exercises and free weights are the
primary tools for sport-specific improvements. Machine isolation
exercises (i.e. hip adduction) have been replaced by more
creative and efficient exercises (i.e. lateral step-ups)
that utilize greater amounts of muscle mass and the desired
Free weight exercises stimulate the muscle
to hypertrophy (grow) and for agility and balance (motor
pathways) as well. Thus we may describe the advanced athletic
leg-training program as complete neuromuscular training.
Finally, the movements demand recruitment of the "core"
(abdominal & low-back) musculature for stability and help
to improve strength in this area.
The program is designed as a circuit of leg
exercises that use only the athlete's bodyweight as resistance.
Advanced athletes may hold dumbbells (DB) in their hands
as they improve and greater resistance is required. The
beauty of the leg workout is in its simplicity. No fancy
equipment is needed except for a step or bench, allowing
the workout can be performed anywhere and at anytime.
Remember these rules for the workout:
- Warm-up with 2 sets of 15 repetitions of both full squats
(do not use any weight, BUT/ go through the entire range
- 2-4 sets of 6-15 repetitions per exercise
(2-4 circuits in total resulting in no more than 45 minutes
- Each repetition must be done with perfect form
- Do not fatigue the legs OR core prior to these exercises
- Perform the exercises with the weak leg first to help
correct strength disparities
- Choose one exercise from each block
- Consider using a exercise every workout
Most athletes will find the routine very challenging
for 2 sets of 4 exercises during the first attempt at the
program. In fact, additional external resistance will be
unnecessary as the body weight serves as an adequate resistance
in the single-leg exercises. Balance and agility are heavily
demanded in this routine and can be further challenged by
performing all exercises without shoes (a reduction in ankle
Increasing the resistance OR the balance demands
of the exercise increases the demands on the athlete's concentration.
For safety's sake, terminate the exercise when technique
begins to falter so that injuries may be prevented.
In addition to training sport-specific muscle
actions, the advanced athletic leg-training program is highly
demanding on sport-specific energy systems. Therefore, a
high-volume of training combined with short inter-set rest
intervals can be used as a metabolic conditioning aid and
for the alteration of body composition.
Choose one exercise from each group of 3
- Forward Lunge
- 1-Leg Squat
- 1-Leg Deadlift
- Wide-Stance Deadlift
- Back Extension
- Lateral Step-up
- Diagonal Lunge
- Side Lunge
- Cross-over Step-up
- Step-up + Calf-Raise
- Step-up + Opposite Leg Hip Flexion
- Reverse Lunge
Stand upright on one leg and hold dumbbells (DB's) close
to the body with a slight bend in the knees. Bend at the
waist and slowly lower the torso towards the floor. Keep
the head up, shoulders back, chest out, and the lower back
in a flat position. Do not let the back round. Limit the
range of motion of the exercise to keep the back flat at
ALL times. Return to the upright position by extending at
the waist and the hips using the low-back and hamstring
Deadlift (wide stance)
Stand with the feet a half step wider than shoulder width
apart. Execute a stiff-leg deadlift, making sure to keep
the back flat at ALL times. The adductors will assist the
movement by attempting to bring the legs in to the midline.
Instead of taking a stride forward, step backward with one
leg. Rest only the ball of that foot on the ground. The
stationary leg is the working leg. Squat straight down with
the stationary leg supporting the body weight. Return to
the start position using the quadriceps and hip extensors
of the stationary leg.
Holding light dumbbells at sides, step out at a 45o angle
(similar to a skating push-off). The knee should be in line
with the toes.
Perform alternate leg lunges. Do not return back to start
position BUT/ continue to progress in a forward direction.
Use a medicine ball for increased difficulty.
This is a combination of the squat & the lunge. Hold DB's
and step laterally. Plant the lead foot with toes forward
and squat. Keep the knee pointed in the direction of the
toes. Push off the lead foot to the start position. Sideways
stepping places stress on the knee ligaments and adductor
muscles so make sure those areas are injury free.
Step-up (cross over)
Stand sideways to a box holding DB's. Place the outer (lead)
leg over inside the leg on the top of the box. Push off
the lead leg and bring the torso to a standing position
on top of the box. Do not rest the trailing leg on the box.
Step-up (opposite hip flexion)
Perform a normal step-up. At the top of the movement, bring
the trailing knee up as high as possible using the hip flexors.
& TRAINING CAMP CONSIDERATIONS
Prepare a high-CHO meal before early morning
games (see pre-event meals for suggestions). Following the
first game, CHO and fluid intake is very important (fruit
juice, sports drink, or a non-caffeinated pop). Fruit and
yogurt can also be eaten if there is a sufficient break
During periods of hard training (i.e. training
camp OR playoffs), maintain a proper nutrition and fluid
regimen. For 2-a-day's, consume 100-200g carbohydrate as
soon as possible after sessions and take a fluid break every
20-minutes. Always plan for a post-exercise recovery meal
and consume carbohydrates and fluid immediately after games
and training because immediate CHO consumption is essential
during training camps and tournament play.
By ingesting CHO as soon as possible after
exercise glycogen can be 40% replenished within 2 hours.
A normal diet with adequate CHO intake will ensure complete
glycogen replacement 24-48 hours after intense or prolonged
CB ATHLETIC CONSULTING