How to best train for sports with obvious arm or leg dominance
26/07/2019 by Pivotal Motion
There are a multitude of sports that have an obvious arm or
leg dominance, and as such, maximising the ability of this dominant limb
translates to excelling in this sport. It is important to remember that
asymmetries are common in unilateral sports, and training for symmetry can
often be counterproductive to your long-term benefits. If you want to read up
further on this concept, check out our blog “Is symmetry all that important for
In order to maximise your athletic performance in a sport
with obvious arm or leg dominance, there are two common principles to follow:
training individual muscle groups and translating that into functional movement
training. Let’s explore this further!
Take the sport of long jump for example. Long jumpers
utilise their lower body for the majority of their propulsion during jumping.
When it comes time to take off, every long jumper will have a preferred leg to
drive off with. It is essential that this leg can produce the maximum amount of
force possible, as this will allow the athlete to jump as far as possible.
Therefore, this preferred take-off leg needs to be addressed
during a training cycle. To begin with, the muscle groups which contribute to
jumping can be trained in isolation: glute, quadricep, hamstring and calf
exercises. An example of a gym session to train these muscles in ISOLATION
would follow along something like this:
Seated knee extensions
These exercises can be modified to incorporate an asymmetry
in weight between legs, with the dominant leg likely to be stronger. Therefore,
an increase in weight over the dominant leg to stimulate greater strength gains
would be observed.
In order to maximise athletic performance, however, the need
for functional training is imperative. Having isolated progressions is
fantastic, but if this progression does not translate over into performance,
the overall goal has not been achieved. Specific to a long jumper, a functional
training program would look similar to this:
Single leg box jumps
Sport specific jumping practice
The same concept regarding asymmetrical weight distribution
(described above under isolation exercises) can be applied here.
As you can no doubt detect, the above exercises incorporate more muscles and joints than what was trained in isolation. They are also much more specific to everyday life, and much more specific to the particular sport in question. Getting results in functional training programs translates over to improvements in athletic performance, which at the end of the day, is the whole point of these exercise programs most of the time! If you have an queries regarding these concepts, or feel that this type of training would apply to you, book in to see one of our fantastic physiotherapists today!