One Leg or Two:
Kenneth Riggberger (2006)
Kenneth Riggberger has coached many top athletes, including Henrik Dagård, European decathlon Silver Medallist in 1994. In his archives he has data in respect of physical tests on men’s and women’s teams over 24 different sports. However more recently for the last few years he has taken on two young female athletes, Malin Andersson (17 years old) and Elinor Widh (20). The results he has achieved have astounded top coaches in Sweden and turned traditional methods on their heads. After only two training sessions per week both girls took medals in the Senior Swedish Athletics Championships in javelin, Elinor gold and Malin bronze and a measure of their performance is that Carolina Klűft could only manage 5th place!
He advocates less training, as little as twice per week and that strength exercises for the legs be done only on one leg. It’s interesting to say the least that these two young girls after several short years training in the Riggberger method have been proved to have a much higher leg strength level (and by a large margin) than any of the top women athletes in Sweden. In fact only Johann Wissman, the runner and one of the country’s most highly trained athletes compares favourably with them.
Riggberger believes in the vital importance of building base strength first and in less training with higher intensity. Many athletes in his opinion train too hard without the core of real strength and as a result spend too much time injured. In stamina events one can train more when the recovery phase is shorter and it is possible to be much stronger without going up a great deal in weight.
He believes too that in the case of many racket sports that the power from one leg in movement is vital together with balance. Both movement and stroke-play are often executed from a position where the loading is on one leg or the other, not both. As a matter of interest Elinor is also in the National Squad for badminton in Sweden.
His method is the quick vertical jump on one leg with gradually increasing weight on the shoulders. How fast and explosively his girls can jump up and down with the weight (up to 50 kilos) doesn’t only look easy, it produces unbelievable results. He advocates increasing the loading gradually, using high intensity and not using more than 5 repetitions. There appears to be very little difference in leg strength between men and women, taking into account body weight. This type of training leads to extreme loading on the muscles in a short time. In a comparison with Elinor and Johann results were achieved as follows (Johann weighs 15 kilos more):
• Elinor – 20.4 watt/kilo
• Johann – 20.3 watt/kilo