My Favorite Exercise Combinations: Installment 7

Many trainers and coaches follow the thought process that unilateral work is a quality that is necessary for functional transfer. This idea holds true, whether you are simply looking to start running to lose weight, or whether you are aiming to sprint for performance (both exercises that necessitate having one leg in contact with the ground for a given distance).

However, one aspect that I find difficult to follow through with is the concept of giving an athlete or client an exercise that he or she may not be ready for on a coordination level.

With this in mind, my progression for single leg hip hinge exercises in a given exercise program may start like this:

Single Leg Hip Hinge Progression

  1. Single Leg Glute Bridge
  2. Elevated Single Leg Hip Thrust
  3. Bowler Squat / Bodyweight Single Leg Deadlift
  4. DB Single Leg Stiff Legged Deadlift
  5. Barbell Single Leg Stiff Legged Deadlift

This is not an all encompassing progression, as plyometrics such as bounds, lateral bounds, and hops (or one leg jumps) aren’t included.

There seems to be a difficult transition for those individuals who can perform single leg movements in a supine (or on your back) position, versus a standing position. For athletes, my goal is to get these individuals standing with load as quickly as possible.

Barring SHELCs (Supine Hip Extension Leg Curls), or Slideboard Leg Curls, I’m finding it more and more difficult to give supine single leg exercises to athletes that are more than capable of starting from the 3rd exercise on this progression list.

Never say never, however. If an athlete simply cannot perform a standing single leg hip hinge variation, the first question I will ask involves what is limiting your ability to do so?

  1. Soft Tissue Problem
  2. Joint Problems (Retroversion of the Hips and/or Femurs, for example)
  3. Motoric Control

If we follow a 4×4 Matrix from the SFMA, along with understanding that as a strength coach, many of my “solutions” can be derived from improving the control a given athlete has over their movements, the thought process will follow as such:

  1. Supine Hip Hinge
  2. Quadruped Hip Hinge
  3. Half Kneeling Hip Hinge
  4. Standing Hip Hinge

SFMA 4x4 Matrix

To give these variations a name…

  1. Single Leg Glute Bridge (or Band Resisted Single Leg Glute Bridge)
  2. Quadruped Posterior Rocking (or Quadruped Posterior Rocking with Stability Ball)
  3. Turkish Get Up
  4. DB Single Leg Stiff Legged Deadlift

If getting to the 4th variation is a goal, the first three steps should ideally be completed as quickly as possible.

Today’s exercise combination goes over all three of these components fairly quickly.

Band Resisted Elevated Single Leg Hip Thrust

In the first exercise, we are loading a supine hip hinge variation that aims to add resistance. In essence, the hip thrust is a very far origin from many sport specific movements. However, in this case I am promoting its use to dial into a movement pattern that will be integrated into a larger, more transferable pattern.

Also, a hidden benefit here is you get a self-mobilization of sorts from the band distracting the hip muscles/joint helping to relax tight hip musculature, which can be a limiting factor in many single leg patterns.


Half Kneeling Band Pallof Alphabet

In the second exercise, the half kneeling pallof press variation works on multiple items – breathing, external cuing (write the alphabet!), along with stretching a hip flexor. Interestingly, your obliques on either side are being tested because the handle will want to pull you back towards the machine, so it is mainly up to the abdominals in order to keep appropriate position!

Turkish Get Up

In the third exercise, the half kneeling hip hinge occurs after sweeping the leg, and before the transition into standing.

Half Kneeling Hip Hinge
Sitting into the hip in a unilateral fashion.

To demonstrate the application of these exercises with a given set and rep scheme:

A1. Band Resisted Elevated Single Leg Hip Thrust – 3 sets of 8 reps per side
A2. Half Kneeling Band Pallof Press – 3 sets of (4x5sec) per side
A3. Bodyweight Turkish Get Up – 3 sets of 2 per side

You get the whole kit and caboodle with this combination – motoric control of the ankle while in dorsiflexion, resisted hip flexion/extension, upper body stabilization (if you lose position in the neck or shoulder girdle, you will lose centration down the line). Finally, you can integrate all of the above with the Turkish Get Up – doubly so if you load it with a kettlebell.

I will ideally groove these patterns in a very quick manner – sometimes this whole combination may only need to be performed once in order to retain what these feelings that the exercises gives. On the other hand, a longer 2 to 3 week exercise program involving this (and other variations) may be necessary in order to reinforce appropriate single leg patterning.

As always,

Keep it funky.


My Favorite Exercise Combinations – Installment 3

Throughout the fitness industry, utilizing med ball exercises has been a large component of increasing force development, improving neurological activation along the speed-strength continuum, not to mention it is just flat out fun to slam a ball.

No matter if you are into fat loss, improving athletic development, or gaining muscle, there are benefits for everyone when it comes to slamming stuff into the ground or a brick wall.

This week’s favorite sequence of mine comes in the form of slamming a med ball into a wall, and then performing a Turkish Get Up.

A1. Rotational Med Ball Shotput – 3×5/side (6-8lbs)

A2. Turkish Get Up – 3×1/side

Next Level Programming

The purpose of the rotational med ball scoop toss is to improve rotational force production in the frontal and transverse planes. If many exercises are performed in the sagittal plane, we may develop an “overdependence” on these exercises – and if we live in a three-dimensional world, we need to improve the way we interact with the world in a three-dimensional manner – not only sagittal plane, but also frontal and transverse plane.

Now, the funky part of this combination is the Turkish Get Up – to some people, this may not be a surprise of an exercise; others have never even heard of it before.

In fact, if you’ve never tried it before, it is a great combination exercise in its own regard. It targets abdominals, is a checkpoint for glute functioning when you go into the “high bridge” portion (where you squeeze your butt into the air), and then also includes a hip hinge, and lunging pattern.

It’s like those Highlight magazines you did those search puzzles in when you went to the dentist or doctor as a kid – it has some gems in there if you look really hard.

The blind bull is blissfully balancing on one blue boot while wearing a blue belt and a blue blouse.

Now, the integrated portion of this combination is the sweet deal that you didn’t know you had until you rang up your coupon at the cash register:

Let me explain.

If you are throwing a ball, you need to produce force that will attempt to cross midline from sternum, sacrum, and sphenoid bones. In other words, you need to rotate appropriately (and on both sides in this specific drill).

The purple bones will need to move independently of the white bones to create dissociation!

In the medicine ball throw, you need to push off from the ankle, activate the glutes to rotate (reciprocally if I may add), and have the trunk come along for the ride – which activates one set of obliques, and the opposite side of obliques. Further, this rotation of the trunk facilitates scapular motion as you literally throw the ball.

What is an “arm care” exercise that isn’t integrative?

So when you perform a med ball shotput, you integrate the feet, glutes, trunk, scapula, and even the neck and eyes because you won’t be able to hit your target (very effectively) if you could not look at it.

Now, when you perform a Turkish Get Up, you are doing the same exact thing, but slower and with more control.

As you move from the ground up, you are stabilizing both scapula in various positions, stabilizing the trunk in various positions, moving with adequate hip mobility, and improving sensory awareness of the body due to breathing (which means you shouldn’t be grunting or holding your breath), and slowing down the movement for control purposes.

These higher end movements involve utilizing a rolling pattern, that aim to reset and activate certain tonic/phasic musculature.

TGU = Rolling = Throwing

Lastly, the vision aspect is huge. You can improve your sensory awareness by integrating where your eyes are located into the mix – as you move from the “ground upwards” you should be keeping an upward look at the kettlebell as you move from step to step.

Look Up
The one on the right is probably more prepared than the other two for whatever is coming next.

Combine this with a fast paced med ball drill such as the shotput, and you can really enhance the way you exercise and improve force development!

If you liked what you read, please pass on this post! Much appreciated.

As always,

Keep it  funky.