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February 11, 2022 11 min read
Squats come in different variations designed to soothe your fitness needs. Each of these variations is a wonderful addition to your fitness routine, depending on your fitness goal.
The single-leg squat is a squat variation that is performed on only one leg. It is a splendid exercise to target your posterior chain muscles and improve overall balance and stability. Wondering how to perform this exercise? We have highlighted everything you need to know.
The conventional squat is performed on both legs and provides many fitness benefits. From burning calories to strengthening your core and every muscle in your lower body, the squat helps you win on all fronts.
Although it's performed differently, the benefits of the basic squat are passed on down to the single-leg squat. Like the conventional squat, the single-leg squat is a full-body exercise at heart. It's a staple in many athletes’ workout routines as it works the major muscle groups and breathes life into stability exercises.
The single-leg squat is of higher intensity and is often left to the veteran gym-goers or more experienced athletes.
As if standing erect and balancing on one foot is not challenging enough, this exercise tests your body as you lower into a squat while standing on one leg.
For many, this is the ultimate test of balance, coordination, and stability.
While adding the single-leg squat to your routine might spice up your sessions, this exercise is not meant for every Tom, Dick, and Harry at the gym. It's saved for those gym-goers who have successfully mastered the basic squat.
The basic squat can be a beneficial exercise that targets some of the body's major muscle groups: the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
The single-leg squat is no easy feat and takes time to work up to it. Standing on one leg might be no easy stunt, but it packs a punch to great exercise.
It increases contraction of the muscles involved, leading to increased muscle tension necessary for muscle growth.
Since balancing requires significant muscle activation, it can improve your mobility, balance, muscle coordination, and core strength. The single-leg squat activate the hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, calves, and other supporting muscles like the abdominal muscles.
The degree of activation depends on the position during the single-leg squat. For example, the quads are activated during the descent phase. Because you balance on one leg, the tension is greater and more demanding on your quads during knee flexion.
It doesn’t matter if you are standing, walking, or running; your quads are involved in all of these movements.
Because you are highly dependent on your quads to get around, these muscles require strength to assist you in daily activities. Weak quads are prone to injuries that can severely limit your leg movements. The single-leg squat fixes this by strengthening and growing the quad muscles.
The single-leg squat also targets the hip muscles and the other connecting muscles like the gluteal muscles and the hamstrings.
The glutes, also called the buttocks, provide the bulk of the balance your body needs during the movements. The exercise solely relies on the glutes and abdominals for stability, so it is no surprise the glutes receive the bulk of the focus.
The single-leg squat provides better engagement of the gluteal muscles than the split squat, which is an equally effective variation of the traditional squat. Your body uses these muscles during the single-leg squats to maintain proper form.
This leads to the strengthening of the glutes, which can contribute to a better looking behind but also a better posture and full-body stability.
The hamstrings help control the hip during the flexion for descent and extension for rising. The hamstring lies behind the thighs and connects the knees to the hip.
This muscle is a big part of the movement and often suffers from injuries that vary from weakness caused by too little movement and long hours of sitting to injuries due to overexertion.
The single-leg squat targets the hamstrings during the entire rep, leading to stronger legs and better mobility in the legs and hips.
Your calves are equally involved during the single-leg squats.
The calf is made of two distinct muscles named the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles; these muscles are significant players in the descent phase of the single-leg squat and also work in conjunction with the hip, glutes, and hams to raise your body during the ascending phase.
The calf muscles are great supporting muscles that aid any movement that includes the use of the legs. They work with ankle muscles to propel you, help you jump, lock your knees, and flex your feet.
The single-leg squat depends on the strength and stability of your core muscles.
Squats are one of the top exercises for honing core strength which would propel you towards your fitness goals. Core strength is not only a fitness requirement, but it also increases your performance in your daily activities.
Your core helps stabilize your body, provides you with proper balance, and allows you to move in any direction with adequate balance.
Your core is what prevents you from falling all over the place while on your feet, controls your posture, and safeguard you from muscle injuries and awkward and painful falls.
Your abdominal muscles support your trunk during the single-leg squat.
Other than the superficial abdominal muscles seen as the six-pack muscle, the deep abdominal muscles work in conjunction with the core muscles to facilitate movement, twisting the trunk and protecting the back.
There are various benefits of the single-leg squat. From muscle growth to toning, coordination, and balance, it's a killer exercise that is bound to take you from zero to hero.
Some benefits of single-leg squats are:
The single-leg squat is a very demanding exercise. To recruit the right muscle groups, it is necessary to pay attention to your form throughout your session. This would go a long way in reducing the risk of muscle injury.
The single-leg squat requires strict adherence to form.
The slightest nuance in your form will activate the wrong muscle groups and increase your risk of injuries. Getting the perfect single-leg squat form can be draining. However, we have provided step-by-step instructions on how to perform the single-leg squat in ideal conditions.
To do the single-leg squat:
Holding correct form during the single-leg squat can be draining. Keeping proper form is, however, crucial to muscle response and the safety of your body.
Performing the single-leg squat with the correct form helps you target the appropriate forms and allows you to reduce your chances of injuries. To help you hold your form for longer, we have brought you tips and tricks to stay on track.
Some of these tips are:
The single-leg squat can be modified to suit your workout routines however you like it. If the single-leg squat is too tricky for you, some modifications can help you achieve the same results but to a lower intensity.
Some modifications, however, ramp up the intensity of an already tricky single leg lift to cause more muscle response. Some popular variations of the single-leg squat are:
Like the basic single leg squat, the single-leg box squat is a powerful full-body exercise. Unlike the single-leg squat that uses just your bodyweight, the single-leg box includes the use of a plyo-box.
The mechanics of the single-leg box squat is the same process as in the single squat. However, in this variation, you will squat down until your glutes rest on the box.
The single-leg goblet squat to the bench is a variation between the single-leg bench squat and the goblet squat. This is a weighted exercise and has a higher impact than the basic single-leg squat. It requires a strict following of the form to activate the right muscle groups, reduce injuries, and delay muscle fatigue.
To do this variation:
The single-leg squat is often incorrectly referred to as the pistol squat. While these exercises might look alike, they are not identical. The pistol squat requires much balance, coordination, and flexibility in degrees, even more, significant than the basic single-leg squat.
The most obvious difference is a pistol squat is a form of deeper single leg squat. The pistol leg is an impressive shoe of flexibility as so is often scorned by some bodybuilders who consider this exercise nothing more of a circus feat.
To do the pistol squat:
The shrimp squat is a single-leg squat variation that uses a different method and range of motion. While it remains a single-leg squat, it is done quite differently from its predecessors.
To do the shrimp squat:
Single leg squats can provide a ton of benefits. From training your major muscle groups to improving your mobility, flexibility, and stability, traits which are necessary to maneuver everyday activities in and outside the gym.
Single leg squats are a great addition to lower body exercises regardless of your fitness level.
Want more lower body exercise recommendations? Check out our list of 10 best exercises for a splendid lower body workout.