Function and Fitness Blog
Function and Fitness Blog
Coach Jess
5:00 AM

What’s With These Single Leg Exercises?

As I’ve noticed in our gym, a lot of us dread doing anything on a single leg - our balance is thrown off - we fall - and generally, we just kind of feel silly or that we look stupid.

So if everyone hates single leg exercises, then why do we put them in all of the programming we do? Because, they’re super good for you, of course!

Single-leg training is awesome for developing balance, coordination, and even optimal for developing strength.

Here are some examples of the single-leg training we do in the gym:
  • Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts
  • Rear-Foot-Elevated (either on a bench or in TRX straps) Squats
  • Single Leg Cable Woodchops

Mike Boyle (one of our fave gurus in the gym because a lot of what he says just, bottom line, makes sense) believes, "You do almost everything in sports in a split stance, or by pushing off one leg from a parallel stance, so it just makes sense to train your body that way."

Training on a single-leg allows you to sprint, change direction, and produce force equally from both sides of your body while also developing stabilizers and small muscle groups that are critical for injury prevention. We love injury prevention!

Additionally, Boyle believes that "[Single-leg exercises] promote great muscle growth and great muscle strength because they work more muscles." For example, you engage three more muscles in a Single-Leg Squat than in a traditional two-legged Squat. Boyle notes that if you train one leg at a time, and then try a traditional Squat, you’ll most likely hit a new personal squat record.

So, while we know that you hate the idea of standing on one leg (especially when that other leg is in the TRX straps) it’s going to help your balance - and also make you stronger! And that’s something we can all stand behind.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Why We Don’t Do Sit-Ups

For years the standard exercise routines looked like this: push-ups, squats, pull-ups and, OF COURSE, sit-ups. So whenever we mention that we don't do sit-ups in our gym, there’s no wonder that we get a lot of puzzled faces.

Here’s why we don’t do them:

Crunches are actually terrible for your back.

As Dr. Richard Guyer, president of the Texas Back Institute explains (http://www.newsweek.com/stop-doing-sit-ups-why-crunches-dont-work-222416), crunches place an unhealthy strain on your back at your back’s weakest point.

“There are only so many bends or a ‘fatigue life’,” in your spinal disks,” says Stuart M. McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. As McGill explains, there's a mucus-like nucleus inside each disk of your spine, and “if you keep flexing your spine and bending the disk over and over again, that nucleus slowly breaches the layers and causes a disk bulge, or a disk herniation.” Yikes!

So how do you get those sculpted abs without the old-fashioned sit-up?

I’m always going to answer this one with the age-old adage: “abs are made in the kitchen.” We might laugh, but it’s true! We all know that you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. And you’re going to need a lower body fat percentage to actually see those cut abs.

But how do you get those “cut, strong, ripped” abs? And even better yet, how are you going to train your body to feel it’s best? By training your abs in a way that strengthens their function and what they are actually supposed to do: keeping your spine straight and secure while also providing power for your movements. As McGill explains, “the abdominals are braces.” When you’re doing any form of movement - in the gym or out of the gym —“the spine is in a neutral posture, not flexed, and the abdominal muscles are contracted to brace the spine.”

And how do you train in a way that best serves your ab’s purpose? With all those awesome core exercises we do! For example:
  • planks
  • anti-rotation cable press out
  • push-ups (it’s a moving plank)
  • USB press-outs
  • basically every move we do in the gym, because YES! Your core should be engaged!
So if you’re wondering why we don’t do sit-ups, think of it this way: we’re just trying to “have your back!” As in, literally, we’re trying to save your back. And besides, you always hated sit-ups anyway.