-“Athletic Leg Training: An Advanced Neuromuscular Program”
-“Nutrition: Tournament & Training Camp Considerations”




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 Machine isolation exercises (i.e. hip adduction) have been replaced by more creative and efficient exercises (i.e. lateral step-ups) that utilize greater amounts of muscle mass and the desired motor pathways.

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 and deadlifts
(do not use any weight, BUT/ go through the entire range of motion)
- 2-4 sets of 6-15 repetitions per exercise

(2-4 circuits in total resulting in no more than 45 minutes training time)
- 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 support).

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

  • Step-up
  • 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

The Exercises

Deadlift (1-leg)
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 muscle groups.

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.

Reverse Lunge
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.

Diagonal Lunge
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.

Forward Lunge
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.

Side Lunge
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.


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 between events.

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 exercise.


CB Athletic Consulting, Inc.
Copyright © CB Athletics 2015. All Rights Reserved