The Importance of Uni-Lateral Strength Training – Bulgarian Split Squats

A couple weeks ago I shared a video of me teaching my daughter how to perform a front squat. The front squat is my all-time favorite bi-lateral (both legs) lower body exercise. However most sports do not take place only on one leg. Most of the time there is only one leg in contact with the ground.

YT- Bulgarian Split SquatThat is why I also incorporate single leg exercises (uni-lateral) in training. For a single leg movement I love Bulgarian Split Squats, or Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats (RFESS). 

BENEFITS:

  • Works one leg at a time (uni-lateral) and helps to maintain a balance between the muscles.
  • Challenges your core.
  • Challenges your balance and proprioception. 
  • Helps with hip flexibility, which is very important for runners who can develop chronically tight hip flexors.

TIPS TO CONSIDER:

  • As the Bulgarian Split Squat or RFESS name suggests one foot needs to be elevated. So use bench. If you are on the shorter you might want to use a lower box, like a cardio step, especially if you find your balance is struggling, or the stretch in the quads and hip flexors it too intense or painful.
  • It is important to engage your core. Imagine someone is about to hit you in the stomach. You would not suck in your stomach, but brace and tighten it. That is what you should be doing here to engage and brace your core throughout the movement.
  • You also need to keep your chest up. Stay tall. If possible find a point of reference on the wall in front of you and keep your eyes on it the whole time.
  • Also if you feel any pain or pressure under the kneecap of the front leg, try moving the front leg out just a bit further and this in my experience with clients helps straighten that out.
  • One last tip. If you have never done these before I would suggest starting off with bodyweight to get a feel for the exercise. Be sure to go low enough, get a stretch in the elevated leg, and use it also as a chance to develop balance.

Bulgarian Split Squats can be used as an ancillary movement after your main lower body exercise or eventually with weight it can be used as your main movement. It is not really a replacement for lunges, which should still be a part of a balanced training program.

Whether you call them Bulgarian Split Squats or Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats, give them shot in your training and see how they work for you!

Tuesday Threshold Workout

IMG_6319As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday I am recently back from a family vacation. It was nice to get away and spend time with my family. I was able to stay consistent with my training runs including the River City Run http://www.on-your-marc.com/river-city-run-recap/ while down in Texas and only missed a couple workouts.

However great it was to get away it is always nice to run in familiar surroundings. I was happy to get back to the local high school track today. This was the most crowded I have seen it with people of all ages running, or using the field to workout and train. I always find myself a little more motivated when there are other people at the track. Sometimes I even “hunt” them down as I run, seeing who I can catch from behind.

I was not sure how today was going to go for a couple reasons. First, yesterday I did a strength training session including heavy front in the morning and followed that up with 3.50 miles of fartlek running in the evening. The second reason is I am still dealing with a nagging ankle injury and slowly building the strength and endurance back in it.

The weather was great too.  It was nice cloudy 72 degrees and there was a light 12 mph breeze.  That’s a far cry from the heat and humidity we had here before I went away and the heat I felt in Texas.

Maybe it was as I mentioned the many people at the track, but I felt great. I hit all the numbers I needed to and felt tired from the repeated efforts but never exhausted. It was definitely a great day to be back at the track I do a bulk of my training on, and I really mentally needed to have a great workout.

My workout today was as follows:

5 min brisk walk.

Dynamic warmup stretch series 10 of each.

Threshold run until I could not maintain desired pace.

3:00 recovery.

Then 12×200 meters (not sprint pace) at VDOT value (see Dr. Jack Daniel’s Running Formula, with a 100 meter walk recovery. I stopped for a drink after the first 6 200 meter repeats. All repeats were under the VDOT time.

Core: Single Leg Planks 3×15 seconds per leg.

10 min easy pace cooldown.

I finished up with static stretching.

 

River City Run Recap

SA-River city Run-AlamoWell I am back from a ten day family vacation and have time to blog again. For my first blog post-vacation I am writing about one of the coolest running experiences I had in San Antonio. It was not about setting a new PR or winning a medal, but truly all about the experience. That is exactly what I got when my oldest daughter and I signed up for the River City Run tour and ran Sunday 7/24/16.

My wife signed us up on the River City Run website the night before. It was as easy as signing up for any race. You fill out your information, including shirt size, pay and you are all set for a great price of $30 per runner. The shirts are pretty nice too and made of a very nice tech fabric, and have a really cool logo on the front.

SA-River city Run - PokemonMy daughter and I took Lyft to get downtown from where we were staying with family.   My wife found a code for $5 off your first 10 rides.  (use the link above to get the same deal) Our driver was really nice and took us right up to the Alamo so we didn’t have to bother with parking.  We were really excited and arrived in downtown San Antonio early. The instructions were to arrive at 7:45am but we got dropped off around 7:15. This gave us time to check out the Alamo which is where we were to meet our guides. You can visit the Alamo after the run when it opens. There is no cost to enter the Alamo. So it was just the two of us and a ranger until gradually some people in running attire showed up.  We also took a few minutes to check out the Pokémon Go spots to hit after our run. 

Our first guide came over and introduced herself. She had come from a workout already and was clearly a runner. You do not need to be a speedster to join the tour. You just need to run at around a 9-10 minute mile (and remember you get breaks). The longest stretch you run is about a half mile without stopping. Kelly our other guide arrived and we were ready to head out. The entire run (with stops) is roughly 5k.  

SA-River city Run - MarketOne guide took the lead while the other stayed at the back of the pack to ensure no one got lost. The stops were frequent and always at really cool places in San Antonio. For example the first stop was the Manger Hotel. Besides being famous for it’s mango ice cream it also has a rich history included being haunted. The guides had so much information on each stop I truly felt they were not just there to run and pass by historical places, but were just as interested in giving us a plethora of information on each stop. This was their city and they were going to show not only their vast knowledge but pride in the city as well.

SA-River city RunThere were about fifteen places along the way where we stopped and the guides welcomed any questions we had. The guides also took plenty of pictures including a couple group photos. That was a great feature as many times when I or my daughter are racing we rarely have any pictures taken of us. SA-River city Run - LaVillita 

The only negative of the trip is not actually a negative. It goes really fast even though from the time we met our guides to the end of the trip was just shy of an hour and a half. My daughter and I were both equally sad to see the tour winding down. They gave us our shirts at the end so it was nice to not have to run while holding a shirt, and the guides also offered us water if we ran out along the tour.

This was hands down the coolest run I have been on. It is a great way to see a city while getting in a nice low key run. There are other cities that have these types of runs and I encourage you to try them out.  I know my daughter and I will be running this again.

You can check River City Run out here and get some more information. https://rivercityrunsa.com/