Single Leg Work for Explosive High School Athletes

High School athletes need to do more single leg work to be explosive freaks on the field. Very rarely are you using both feet at the exact same time. And if you are using both feet at the same time, it's likely one let is doing something different than the other. For instance, on a baseball swing, one leg is pulling, one leg is pushing; same with sprinting.

Single leg work creates more motor recruitment, better joint control in the ankles, knees, and hips, and helps teach the body balance. In short, if your high school athlete isn't doing single leg work in their training rotation, you need to find a better strength coach!

To read more about why, read MY PREVIOUS POST ON THE TOPIC.

Below are more variations of single leg work your athlete should add to their training regimen. If you'd like to have your son or daughter work with me to become FASTER, STRONGER, HAVE BETTER GAME PRESENCE, AND BE MORE RESILIENT TO INJURY -- email me RIGHT NOW at

Front foot elevated reverse lunges

Elevating the front foot, increases the stretch on the hamstring and glute, which leads to more muscle being trained, more strength through a larger range of motion and mobility, and more muscles that are more resilient to injury.

I'm doing these with a landmine goblet squat, but these could be done with dumbbells or are a barbell on the back. This particular variation worked my mid-section, shoulder, and stability a little bit more.

Split Hops

This variation of plyometrics are great to teach the body how to absorb force in the entire leg, rather than through the ankle or knee along.

You start in the bottom of a split squat position, hope your entire body straight up in the air, maintaining the split squat position, then slam your feet back into the ground, forcing the body to absorb the force a little bit more. These really light up the glutes and hamstrings!

Single Leg Deadlift

This movement is great to exert load on the hamstring and glute, while teaching the body to brace through the midsection during explosive hip extension. Notice my back angle doesn't change, just my hip is moving. This is how all deadlifts should be done and lowering the weight, but adding difficulty by being on one leg, helps teach the body to do deadlifts properly, in addition to using more stability muscles of the ankle, knee, and hip to stay upright.

In this variation, I'm pausing at my knee and pausing at my shin, changing at which point I will return to neutral. The stopping at the knee really forces that hamstring and glute to absorb the downward pressure of the weight + gravity. The pole I'm holding onto isn't really needed and was there to just prevent me from falling over suddenly, especially since I was stopping at multiple points in the deadlift.

Single Leg Dumbbell Swing

This variation is great to teach the body to move quickly through the hamstring and glute while on one leg. Most athletes jump off one leg. Think about Jordan's iconic dunk from the free throw line. He didn't jump with both feet. Or when you're watching football highlights, they drive up with one leg and push off the ground with the other. The pole is there for stability since this is such a quick movement.

Single Leg Med Ball Slam

This teaches the body to recruit muscles to pull the torso DOWN rather than drive the torso up. The better you are at making force GOING DOWN, the more elasticity you can store in your muscles to RECOIL back up. Every jump starts with a loading of the hip and leg. The better the loading of the muscles, the more the drive up!

Rear foot elevated split squats

As discussed before, this move is excellent for helping the athlete sprint, drive through a block, and have better motor control of the ankle, knee, and hip. These squats better reflect sprinting mechanics than do bi-pedaled squats.

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