One of the best single-leg exercises I use is the Grasso Lunge. It develops the strength in the acceleration muscles (glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves) as well as two-leg exercises in a similar position as an acceleration position. Don't misunderstand - you are not trying to 'run with weight'. You are strengthening the acceleration muscles, in a similar motor pattern.
You Can Use:
- Bands - which provide accommodating resistance
- Cables - which provide steady resistance, or
- Sleds - which provide concentric only resistance
I know many speed coaches who will shudder to think of training with high loads, but there are a couple of points I would like to make about that:
- You are not running with weight - so you are not trying to maintain proper running mechanics.
- You are trying to move as fast as possible.
- Young athletes have no technique anyway (at least most do not) so there is no mechanics to mess up.
- You are strengthening - not doing speed work - although most young athletes will improve running speed.
Parameters For The Exercise
This exercise, as with any, should be rotated into and out of a routine regularly. The more advanced the athlete, the more often you switch. A young beginner may do the same exercise 3 times a week for 4 weeks and still make progress.
A 20-year old who has trained 5 years regularly may have to change the routine around every other work out or even every workout.
Sets & Reps
A beginner can perform this exercise between 15 to 25 reps per set for 2 to 4 sets.
A more advanced athlete will need to choose a set and rep range that meets particular goals.
Explosive Strength Speed
Someone who wants to use this exercise for explosive speed-strength, will need to do 6-to-8 sets for 2-to-5 reps per leg per set with each rep performed as fast as possible.
If strength-endurance is the key, then the athlete can choose 3-to-5 sets for 12-to-20 reps depending on what type of endurance the athlete needs.
- Step 1 - Place band or belt around waist and brace lead leg on a raised, sturdy surface. Butt should be touching the calf, and belly should be touching the thigh. A raised surface is not required, but does help by giving the athlete something to drive against.
- Step 2 - Using lead leg, drive body forward by driving lead leg into stable surface. Be sure to focus on driving off lead leg and not the back leg
- Step 3 - Drive the hips forward while keeping the trunk leaning forward. It is easy to get stood up at this point. If this happens, the band will pull you backward.
- Step 4 - Fully extend the lead leg (which now becomes the back leg). It still remains the leg that is taking the load.
- Step 5 - Keeping the weight on the same leg, lower yourself back, under control and repeat for desired number of reps. Keep body low and hips driving forward.
In most cases, I will use this exercise to be done as fast as possible on the forward motion once the athlete is used to the bands.
Video Demonstration Of Grasso Lunge.
Questions about the bands or the exercise? Send them to Chris at