Elliot Simmonds is one of the UK’s most successful CrossFit athletes, with three Games appearances and a third-place finish in the team division under his belt. But just six weeks before the 2022 CrossFit Games semi-finals, disaster struck in the form of a torn ligament in his back.
He had to stop training, but still competed, finishing in an impressive 12th place. Groin pain hampered him on his return to training and eventually Simmonds opted for surgery. “I had a full groin reconstruction,” says Simmonds.
To build himself back to the level where he can compete, Simmonds, a WIT-sponsored athlete, has been working with his coach James Jowsey. “For the last 12 weeks I’ve been doing a single-leg session two or three times per week and a core session two or three times per week to try and rebalance everything,” says Simmonds.
“Here is a selection of exercises from those sessions which I have used to get me back to doing CrossFit movements again. These are all fantastic single-leg movements that anyone can incorporate into their training routine to help iron out any muscular imbalances, and improve your stability and strength.”
How To Do This Workout
The single-leg exercises have been arranged into four supersets and a finisher. However, you should take your ability into account and adjust the sets, time/reps and rest as appropriate.
“Levels [you will be able to perform at] will vary for each exercise based on an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, so be cautious,” says Simmonds.
Single-Leg Workout Overview
- 1A Short-lever Copenhagen hold 3 x 20-30sec each side
- 1B Single-leg high knee isometric hold 3 x 30sec each side
- 2A Bulgarian split squat isometric hold 3 x 2 each side with 10sec hold
- 2B B-stance Romanian deadlift 3 x 8 each side
- 3A Single-leg glute bridge isometric hold 3 x 10-20sec each side
- 3B Single-arm bear plank 3 x 30sec each side
- 4A Side plank 3 x 30sec each side
- 4B Hanging single-leg knee raises 3 x 10-20
- 5 Box pistol squat 1 x max reps each side
Single-Leg Exercises Form Guides
1A Short-lever Copenhagen hold
Sets 3 Time 20-30sec each side
Lie on your side on the floor, side-on to a weights bench. Your lower forearm should be on the floor and your elbow directly underneath your shoulder. Bend the knee of your top leg to 90° and place your lower leg on the bench. Lift your bottom leg and hold it against the underside of the bench. Hold this position, keeping your body in a straight line. Repeat on the other side.
1B Single-leg high knee isometric hold
Sets 3 Time 30sec
From standing, raise your right knee until your right thigh is parallel with the ground. Hold this position, concentrating on staying upright, and avoiding leaning forward or backward. Repeat on the other side.
2A Bulgarian split squat isometric hold
Sets 3 Reps 2 each side with 10sec hold
Stand facing away from a weights bench or box. Place the top of one foot on the bench behind you. Bend your knees to lower until your rear knee is just above the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Push through your front heel to return to the start. Do two reps, then switch sides.
2B B-stance Romanian deadlift
Sets 3 Reps 8 each side
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then place one foot slightly behind the other. With a slight bend in your knees, push your hips back and hinge your torso forward. When your hands reach the middle of your shins, push your hips forward and return to the start. Do all your reps on one side, then switch sides.
3A Single-leg glute bridge isometric hold
Sets 3 Time 10-20sec
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tilt your pelvis to press your lower back into the floor and, keeping the knee bent, lift one foot. Push through the grounded foot to lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds. Lower under control, then repeat on the other side.
3B Single-arm bear plank
Sets 3 Time 30sec each side
Start on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Press through your hands and lift your knees off the floor. Lift and extend one arm in front of you. Hold this position for 30 seconds, using your core and glutes to stabilize you. Return to the start, then repeat on the other side.
4A Side plank
Sets 3 Time 30sec each side
Lie on your side with one leg on top of the other. Your lower forearm should be on the floor and your elbow directly underneath your shoulder. Lift your hips so your weight is resting on your forearm and feet, and your body forms a straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Sets 3 Reps 10-20
Hang from a pull-up bar using an overhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart. Pull on the bar slightly and retract your shoulder blades, moving them back and down, so you are in an active position. Keeping the rest of your body as still as possible, raise your right knee until it’s higher than your hips, then lower under control back to the start. Repeat with your left knee. Continue alternating legs.
5 Box pistol squat
Sets 1 Reps Max each side
Stand on a 30in box with one foot close to one side and the other foot suspended over the side of the box. Keeping your hips square, bend your knee and push your hips back to lower the suspended foot slowly towards the ground until you’re in the bottom of a squat position (or as close to as you can manage). Drive through your planted foot to return to the start, and repeat until you can no longer perform a rep with perfect form. Repeat on the other side.
To make this move easier, you can use the side of the box to support the foot you’re lowering or reduce the distance you lower your foot.
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