Dumbbell and bodyweight exercises that train one leg at a time should always be a part of your leg workouts. This is because they have many benefits. Single leg exercises help you: strengthen each leg equally, correct weaknesses, build more muscle, and help improve your ability to perform your best in sports especially those that require you to forcefully push off with one leg (i.e. hockey, sprinting, soccer, and tennis). Single leg exercises will help make your legs look better too.
One of the best single leg exercises you can do are Single Leg Squats a.k.a. Pistols. While they’ve been around for a long time, strength coaches including Mike Boyle and Pavel Tsatsouline have recently helped make them popular. Doing them helps to build and strengthen all of the muscles in your legs, especially your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Doing them regularly really helps to increase the flexibility of your hamstrings and hips too.
This article provides tips on how to properly perform Single Leg Squats and the best way to incorporate them into your workouts. We’ve also included a video that shows how to perform them with proper technique.
Proper Technique And Tips
- As you squat down, raise your extended arms in front of you until they’re perpendicular with the ground. This will help you stay balanced and will keep your form correct.
- If you’re having trouble squatting on one leg unassisted, I recommend first squatting to a chair or bench. Don’t sit down completely, just touch it lightly with your butt and stand back up. Decrease the height as you get stronger and your balance improves.
- Just like when you perform barbell squats, don’t let yourself lean forward. Squat back on your heels.
- When first learning to do them, stop when your form begins to suffer.
- Once you can do 10-12 repetitions with good form you can begin performing multiple sets of 5-10 reps.
- Do them off a platform or bench for increased range of motion.
- Once you can do 3 sets of 10-12 reps you can make them more challenging buy holding dumbbells in each hand or wearing a weighted vest such as an Xvest.
- Once you get really good, you can do One Legged Squats on a foam mat for an even greater challenge.
- Make them the first exercise you do when training legs so your legs are fresh.
Don’t get discouraged if you have trouble doing 1 rep at first. This is one of the most difficult lower body exercises you can perform. Be patient and after a practicing for a couple of weeks you’ll be able to do them for multiple reps unassisted.
Single Leg Squats Traditional Style
Several Variations Of Single Leg Squats