Strength (Video) - The Single-Leg Squat and Variations

Meghan Juuti

The single leg squat is a surprisingly effective strength exercise - even without weights.

The following variation, where athletes must hold the bottom position for an extended period of time, develops more symmetrical leg strength, incorporates the core, and improves balance and proprioception.

The single-leg squat is an effective exercise for most running-type sports.

How to Perform
To begin, stand upright with your body weight on your left foot. Look straight ahead with your arms at your sides.

Drop towards the ground by bending knees and hips while keeping your chest lifted high. It should feel like you are sitting into a chair. Lower until your upper thigh is at a 45 degree angle to the ground (quarter squat position).

At this point, pause for 5-10 seconds, attempting to keep the body square and the knee positioned over the second toe of the support foot. Then return to the starting position, remembering not to lock your leg as you reach the top. Repeat this exercise 10 times, then switch legs. Continue until you have done three sets on each leg. Remember, never lower past parallel to the ground with your thigh.

See video demonstration below. In this demonstration,
the athlete is not holding the bottom position for 5-10 seconds.

The static position of this variation focuses on joint stabilization and strengthens muscles and joints to prevent sports injuries as well as improve performance.

Other Variations

1. You can increase the load on the core, the gluteus medius muscles and your athletes' proprioceptive/balance abilities by performing the following variation of the single-leg squat.

On each repetition, have your athletes change the position of their free leg. For example, move it to the front on the first rep, to the side on the second, and to the back on the third (see photos below). A focus for the athlete is to keep the upper body upright and square and the knee tracking over the support foot.

2. You can also increase the load by holding dumbbells or using a stretch band while performing the exercise.

References: 1. John Shepherd. "Single-leg Squat." Peak Performance, February 2005.

2. Owen Anderson, Strength Training for Athletes Who Run, Running Research News, 2006.


To download the pdf version of this article, click here: //