Unilateral Training from the Ground Up: Building the Bridge
Single leg strength training. As runners, we all know we should be doing it but not a lot of us know where to start.
Last week I announced that over the next several weeks I will be sharing a series telling you exactly HOW to build unilateral strength from the ground up using the Ultimate Sandbag and the DVRT System.
Why use the Ultimate Sandbag? Well, for one it helps to activate the entire body instead of just focusing on the lower body. If you think about it, our body is all connected. If you suffer from a weakness in one part of your body, it affect the way another part functions. For example, when you’re running and get fatigued and find yourself rounding your shoulders, slumping forward it’s not just because you’re lacking upper body strength but also because your core and glutes are also weak.
In order to functionally strengthen your glutes and core you need to active your lats. Yep, your lats work with your glutes during your gait pattern so making sure they all work together when you’re strength training is KEY. Which is where the Ultimate Sandbag comes in.
The placement of the handles on the Ultimate Sandbag are specifically designed to be shoulder width apart making it easy to grab the outside handles, pull them apart and really help activate and connect the upper body to lower body just like you would when running.
The beauty of using the Ultimate Sandbag along with the DVRT System is that it’s progressive meaning that you start in the most stable position first then build from there – building a foundation is key.
In this case since we are working to increase lower body unilateral strength, we will begin by focusing on building the glute bridge in an incremental fashion.
Bilateral Glute Bridge Pullover:
How to perform: Begin with feet flat on the floor with the shins in a vertical position. Upper body should also be flat on the ground with the arms extended actively pulling apart the outside handles of the Ultimate Sandbag in order to engage the lats. Push through your feet while extending your hips squeezing the glutes at the top. You can stop there or you can add a pullover by simultaneously lowering the sandbag toward the head. Pause at the top for 2-3 seconds before returning to the starting position.
Glute Bridge Sprinter Stance (with Pullover):
You can progress the first movement by changing your body position to a sprinter stance meaning that you line your heel up with the toe of your other foot – a slight progression that helps work up to the single leg position.
How to perform: Begin with the feet in the sprinter stance position – heel pointed up in line with the foot of the other toe. Upper body should also be flat on the ground with the arms extended actively pulling apart the outside handles of the Ultimate Sandbag in order to engage the lats. Push through your feet while extending your hips squeezing the glutes at the top. You can stop there or you can add a pullover by simultaneously lowering the sandbag toward the head. Pause at the top for 2-3 seconds before returning to the starting position. Perform on both sides.
Glute Bridge Marching:
Building on to that is Glute Bridge Marching which works each leg for a brief amount of time building up to the Single Leg Glute Bridge.
How to perform: Start in the bilateral glute bridge position with feet flat on the floor with the shins in a vertical position. Upper body should also be flat on the ground with the arms extended actively pulling apart the outside handles of the Ultimate Sandbag. Lift one leg up to 90 degrees then slowly lower it back down touching the ground. Repeat with the other leg. Be sure not to rotate the hips when doing so.
Single Leg Glute Bridge:
Once proficiency is achieved with the other progressions then you can move on to incorporating the Single Leg Glute Bridge which will help to build overall unilateral strength.
How to perform: Start in the bridge position with one foot flat on the floor with shin in a vertical position and the other extended straight – (if that is too difficult you can regress by starting in a bent position and working to progress to straighten the leg over time). Upper body should be flat on the ground with the arms extended actively pulling apart the outside handles of the Ultimate Sandbag. Elevate straight leg up to knee height while simultaneously bridging. Pause for 2-3 seconds then slowly lower the leg back to starting position so that form isn’t compromised. Perform on both sides.
These progressions honestly just scratch the surface with all that you can do with the Ultimate Sandbag and DVRT System. In fact if you want to get fancy and start to layer the bridge by introducing different planes of motion then the MAX Glute Bridge helps to really connect the chains with diagonal patterning.
Next week we will continue to work our way building strength from the ground up with a series of new unilateral progressions using the DVRT System. Not only will they help you to build the unilateral strength you need to do more advanced exercises but they will also help to identify and correct muscle imbalances making for a stronger, faster and more resilient runner.
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