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The Best Single Leg Exercises for Improving Wrestling Performance
By John Gaglione

Leg strength is extremely important quality to develop in any wrestling strength and conditioning program. But while popular leg exercise such as squats and deadlifts have for a long time have been the foundation of my programs, the problem is they never work one leg at a time.

Single leg work will help improve any asymmetries you have while developing strength in more wrestling specific positions such as the drop step. Skills in wrestling such as a variety of penetration steps for takedowns and throws all require single leg strength and stability.

If you want to take your training to the next level, youíll need to use the single leg exercises found below in your program.

Bulgarian Split Squat (Video)

 



Once youíre comfortable with a traditional split squat then it is time to crank it up a notch! You can elevate the back leg on a bench to increase the difficulty. The Bulgarian split squat is one of my favorite exercises for wrestling since it improves strength and mobility at the same time.  As the athlete drop down into the bottom of the movement this exercise will help stretch out the hip flexors and quads of the back leg. These muscles often get tight from sitting all day as well as a number of other activities. Hip mobility is crucial in order to get in low positions in order to set up and finish takedowns.

 

 

Reverse Lunge (Video)

 

The reverse lunge a great variations of the lunge specifically for wrestling. By stepping behind you can need to accelerate through the entire range of motion just like in a penetration step. When you perform in a forward lunge you need to decelerate your body weight as you step forward so this movement is still valuable, but it is not as specific to the movements found in wrestling. This also makes the reverse lunge much more knee friendly since you donít have any forward weight shift at the knee.  Wrestles often have beat up knees from constantly drilling so this is a perfect modification for all grapplers.


Step Ups (Video)

The step up is a great exercise because it gives you the strength and balance needed to start progressing toward one of the most challenge single leg exercises called the single leg squats. It is important to limit the contribution of the back leg in order to really work your stability and balance.


Single Leg Squat (Video)

The single leg squat is the king of all single leg exercises. Itís great for strengthening the quads, which will help prevent any future knee injuries that could occur on the mat. As with all of these single leg variations itís important to ensure you keep your heels on the ground the whole time in order to maximize the benefits of this exercise and help keep stress off of the knees. Single leg squat and step up are great variations for wrestlers who need to improve their balance. This will help in situations where the athlete is forced to balanced on one leg such as when defending a single leg takedown.


Summary

Iím sure you know by now that single leg strength is essential for all wrestlers. It will help to correct imbalances you may encounter from side to side, and provide sport specific strength and stability that will carry over onto the mat. That being said  bilateral exercises are still important and should be a foundation of any wrestling strength program, but single leg exercises are more specific to the movement found in wrestling and should be a staple in your wrestling performance programs. These exercises will drastically improve your strength and stability on and off the mat and help you get ready for your upcoming competitions!

To take your wrestling to the next level and ensure this coming wrestling season is your best one ever go to GaglioneStrength.com and e-mail Coach Gaglione for more information on wrestling training.


 Coach John Gaglione is a Sport Performance Specialist out of Long Island New York. He is a certified "Underground" Strength coach who specializes in training combat athletes. Johnís work has been featured in Elite Fitness Systems, Testosterone Nation , One Result & local wrestling site Long Island Wrestling Association. If you would like to learn more about John you can reach him at www.gaglionestrength.com or e-mail him at gaglionestrength@gmail.com.