The emphasis on unilateral or single leg exercise is beginning to take hold in strength and conditioning circles. In reality most sports depend on producing strength, power and stability on one leg — with the exception of rowers, power lifters and Olympic lifters who compete bilaterally using both legs. Thai boxers of course spend a lot of time on one-leg and generating force from staggered stances, so training unilaterally can make a dramatic difference to your fighting.
Begin with bodyweight on all of these movements and progress holding dumbells for extra load. Priming the movements with body weight as part of your warm up also teaches your body to stabilise efficiently before loading with extra resistance.
Begin with 3-4 weeks of split squats, then move on to 3-4 weeks of rear foot elevated split squats. Then move onto box pistol squats, then platform pistol squats before finally pistol squats.
For each exercise use a 3-4 week progression building from 3 sets of 8 reps the first week, adding 2 more reps each week, until you are completing 3 sets of 12 or 14 reps in the final week before moving on to the next exercise variant.
Side note: platform pistol squats are much better than pistol squats on the floor if you’re adding extra weight with dumbbells and weighted vests because it allows you to keep better form.
This video will help get you started training your legs unilaterally, and my next article will delve further into this element of your training as a Thai boxer.
Don Heatrick, owner of Heatrick Strength & Conditioning, is a renowned Level 4 Strength and Conditioning coach, Muay Thai coach and former pro Thai boxer from the UK.
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