T Nation

Bringing Up Left Leg

Hi. My left leg is VERY much weaker than my right…so much so that I feel it lead partly to an injury of my right leg. The weakness stems from a surgery I had a year ago.

I have been trying to bring up the leg by always doing single legged exercises first with that leg and trying to do a little extra with it. It isn’t working. Although for some reason my left leg is better at single legged stuff. I think that’s mental.

What has worked for others in bringing up a leg? Should I do MORE with it, more frequent? What I’ve been doing isn’t working.

Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Is there a reason it is significantly weaker? What part of the leg (quad of hamstring/glute)? Is it a flexibility/mobility issue or just strength?

Assuming it’s not a mobility problem, I’d try the following:

I would continue with the single leg work but also try working in some regular two leg movements and focus on the movement itself, not the weight.

For example, do close- stance squats, using a weight you could do for 8-12 reps. But instead of doing that many reps do multiple sets of 3 reps. For example do 15 sets of 3.

I’m not an expert by any means, but my thinking is this will allow you to re-learn the proper movement. By only using triples of a light weight you can focus on the movement and maintaining proper form.

Also have somebody watch to ensure you’re not allowing your strong leg to dominate the movement.

Ian King had a bit to say on this one. He reckons that if the strength imbalance is >20%, you should do single leg stuff with the weaker leg ONLY, and no other leg work until the imbalance is corrected.

examine your leg, is there a size discrepency? how big is the difference between the limbs? You need to assess the magnitude of the difference. Often, following injury, discrepencies arise as a result of an inability to completely recruit the high tension motor units. Most strength discprencies are therefore neural.

I personally like to incorporate unilateral eccentric and isometric exercises in these situations. Static squats (single leg) at various angles, eccentric single leg squats, leg presses etc may help.

I’m sorry to ask this question, but what type of injury did you exactly suffered on your left leg? did you have a broken bone?

I had an accident 11 years ago which had to be corrected with a surgery to my left leg. This left the vastus lateralis of that leg somewhat insensitive since they had to burn part of the nerve. As of today there still is a little visible discrepancy, but otherwise strenght and appearance are “almost” the same.

Not that this will be the case of you or that my situation applies 100% for you, but in cases where limbs have been operated either by broken bones, repairing tendons or other there will always be a size discrepancy. You may not know this but almost everyone has 1 limb bigger than the other.

Thanks for all the replies. I had a torn peroneal tendon in the left ankle and had it repaired in November 2005.

There is a visible size discrpancy - my left leg is about 1/2 smaller in diameter. Ironically it is BETTER at the single leg exercises, but when I do full squats the left side of the bar is always lower than the right. I’m trying to use less weight and make sure it stays even. I hope it improves.

It seems that your left leg is stronger.

The bar is lower in the left side because the right is weaker and transfers part of the weight to the left leg.

Why is the left smaller then?

No idea.

Maybe the hypertrophy of the other leg is correlated with dominance,during the time around the injury, maybe she has developed more strength in the left leg of all the single leg training.

I don’t know how plausible the whole theory with the left leg being stronger is, but it sounds like it could be true, especially if it’s better(I hope this means stronger, because if it just means more endurance, do more max strength work) at single leg exercises.

As far as the size discrepancy, I broke my right shinbone when I was 5 years old. 13 years later, my right calf is still smaller than my left calf, even though it is dominant/stronger.

That’s a tough deal having one leg weaker than the other. I have broken my left leg twice, one of those times was the femur right above the knee. The only thing that has ever worked for me to bring the weak leg up is to do only Single leg exercises or Single leg dominant exercises like: Bulgarian split squats, lunges of all variations and if doing some type of jumping exercise I have done for example 20 jumps with the left leg while the right leg could do 40, I only do 20 with the strong leg while working on bringing up the weak leg as possible. I’ve read about and tried the idea mentioned earlier about laying off on exercises for the strong leg while the weak leg gets stronger. This has not worked. Likewise staying with regular double leg exercises like squats have proven a waste of time when dealing with one weak leg. I have also tried working in leg extensions one leg at a time. This was a disaster, patella pain galore. Have not done a leg extension since. Another great tool is a single leg Hyper extension. Strengthening the Hams has helped my Left leg quite a bit.

Later, Barry

Go back to the beginning. What that means is 2 leg work out with weight the weaker leg can handle.
An operation is serious stuff, and it is a major setback.
Two leg workout keeps the coordination at full, but the weaker leg needs to rebuild. So lower the weight, work two legs at the same time, and build back up from the beginning.
I know it sounds crappy to go back to the low work-outs from when you first started, but think about it- you are starting over.
It is a new relationship with your legs.