6 Best Single Leg Squats To Develop Unilateral Strength

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man doing dumbbell split squat exercise

The single-leg squat is a squat movement that’s performed on only one leg and is great for strength, balance, and stability.

Unilateral squat exercises (simply known as unilaterals) are an excellent substitute for two-legged squats (bilateral squats) and can be considered a moderate to advanced exercise. Unilateral squats are an excellent method to improve muscular strength, mobility, and power in the legs. However, you should only advance to single-leg squats after you’ve mastered the squat move on both legs.

In this post, we will discuss a few variations of single leg squats

6 Best Single Leg Squats Variations

1. Split Squats

man doing dumbbell split squat exercise credit: coachmag.co.uk

The split squat works the same muscles as the conventional squat, but because it is done with one leg, it puts a lot of stress on your abdominal muscles and has the added advantage of increasing your overall functional strength.

How To Do The Split Squat

Take a long stride forwards as if performing a lunge from a standing position. The heel of your back foot should be lifted. Keeping your torso straight, lower slowly until your back knee nearly touches the floor, and then push up. Complete all of your reps on one leg before switching to the other. Maintain a vertical alignment with your knees and toes, particularly on the front leg, as you lower.

2. Leaning Split Squat

man doing leaning split squat credit: vahvafitness.com

Leaning split squat is a quads dominant version of the split squat. This exercise is great for building strength in the quads and hamstrings. However, since your body is leaning forward to a certain degree, the emphasis lies predominantly on the quads.

How To Do The Leaning Split Squat

The steps are mostly same as the split squat, however, When you lunge, lean forward and then push yourself back with the power of your quads.

3. Cossack Squat

man doing cossack squat

The Cossack squat is a single-leg squat exercise that focuses on not just strength but also hip, knee, and ankle mobility, which increases mobility, flexibility, and strength in the frontal area. Cossack squats are an effective exercise for both beginners and more advanced lifters, who can benefit from the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip adductors while also working their core. For more information on cossack squat, visit barbellrush.com

How To Do Cossack Squat

Take a big stride to the side, as with a side lunge, with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Shift your bottom back and tilt slightly forward from the hips. Your glutes should activate immediately. Keep your weight distributed through the heels at all times, and visualize pushing the floor away with your feet.

If this feels good, begin taking your feet farther apart and shifting your weight farther back into the heels and bottom. Your bodyweight should be balanced on one side with the opposite limb stretched out. If you feel more comfortable, begin to raise the toes on your extended leg’s foot, keeping the heel firmly planted on the floor. As with any exercise, your progress will be slow at first, and you should only add weight when you’ve mastered the fundamentals and good form.

4. Bulgarian Split Squat

girl doing bulgarian squat credit verywellfit.com

The split squat is a requirement in every squat repertoire, whether you’re just getting started or want to add new exercises. The only difference between this and a split squat is that the back foot is raised. This minor alteration increases the difficulty of the exercise by challenging your balance, which stimulates the core even more, and increasing the weight on the front leg.

How To Do Bulgarian Split Squat

Find a step, bench, or any other device on which you may rest your foot that is about knee height. With your back foot elevated on the bench, perform a forward lunge with your torso erect, core braced, and hips square to your body. Your leading leg should be around half a metre ahead of the bench. Lower your front thigh until it is nearly horizontal, maintaining your knee in line with your foot. Allowing your front knee to travel past your toes is not a good idea.

Return to the starting posture by driving up through your front heel, keeping your actions measured once more.

5. Shrimp Squat

man doing shrimp squat credit vahvafitness.com/

The pistol squat and shrimp squat are more typically seen in Crossfit boxes and among callisthenics practitioners, but they’re not uncommon to find in a commercial gym. Pistol squats are a bodyweight exercise in which the lifter squats down on one leg and extends the non-active leg in front. Shrimp squats are also done on one leg, with the non-working leg curled up and held behind the lifter. They must press their back knee to the floor while doing this variation.

How To Do Shrimp Squat

Stand tall and lift one foot towards your glutes with the hand on the same side. Bend your standing leg to lower your other knee till it just touches the floor, then drive back up with your other hand out for balance. On the final rep, go extremely slowly. This is a difficult task. Release your foot to make it easier – or hold your foot with both hands to make it tougher.

6. Pistol Squat

man doing pistol squats Fit Health Exercise Gym Workout Healthy Fitness

The pistol squat is one of the most difficult single-leg squat exercise, putting your strength, stability, and mobility to the ultimate test.

If you’re not already a seasoned single-leg or split squatter, start with those exercises rather than attempting a full pistol squat right away. Before you attempt the full pistol squat, it’s essential to focus on your hip and ankle mobility because no matter how strong your legs are, you won’t be able to adopt the pistol posture without flexibility in those parts.

How To Do A Pistol Squat

Place one foot on the ground and hold the other out in front of you. Lower into a deep squat, keeping the airborne leg straight. The hamstring on your standing leg should be touching your calf in the lowest position of the exercise, with the other leg stretched parallel to the ground. When you’ve gotten to the pistol position, take a second to catch your breath before pushing back up by driving through your heel. It’s up to you how you use your arms during the workout, but if you’re new to it, it’s a good idea to hold them out in front of you to help you balance. Once you’ve mastered the pistol, you’ll be able to keep your arms against your chest or even bear a weight.