In this part we will talk through the singular leg movements that are predominantly knee dominant in nature.
These movements require a lot more activation of the stabilising muscles of the hip, core and knee to prevent you from falling over. They are a great addition to any program with the correct prescription.
Singular Leg Movements
1. Single Leg-Supported SquatMost of you will probably have never performed this movement freely due to strength or mobility restrictions, but this can be simply performed by assisting yourself with a rack, TRX or something to hold onto! This will assist in balance and allow you to perform several reps. Controlled reps while maintaining heel contact on the floor are important, as are a high chest and a flat back! Notice after a few sets of these how your quads are on fire due to the increased loading! These single leg squats are also a great way of taking the load away from your back/spine if it is need of a rest!
2. Single-Leg Squat to a BoxAlthough we are going from a full range of movement exercise to a partial ranged movement, we are here performing without assistance. I feel it is important to progress at baby steps to ensure quality is maintained! Moving here with no support will help to recruit those all important stabilising muscles. Without active control of these stabilising muscles in your core and hips, it will be impossible to progress beyond this stage. Simply stand in front of a box, and lower your body slowly until you touch the box. Drive upwards to a full stand. Try to avoid sitting on the box fully, or rocking with your arms to aid in the upward portion. This exercise can be progressed or regressed with a higher/lower box. If you are struggling for balance, try to hold your arms out in front. Always try to keep the back flat, chest up and heel planted during the movement.
3. Single-Leg Squat off BoxThis exercise is slightly more advanced than those previously mentioned. This unassisted exercise takes incredibly strong legs and requires a great amount of dynamic flexibility and balance to perform it correctly. On the other hand squatting off a box allows performers who have limited flexibility to adopt a lower position than otherwise possible. The technique here should be the same as those previously stated. The back should be kept straight, with the chest up and the heel kept flat on the floor. As you're sitting back/down, dumbbells can again be used as a counterbalance. Sit as low as you can while maintaining a straight back, then drive the right heel into the box while also squeezing the Glutes to return to the starting position.
4. PistolsIn my opinion this is the final progression in the chain. This movement requires complete control of bodyweight through a full range of movement. Unless you have progressed slowly throughout, you will fail on these. These are for the advanced, and as you can tell from the lack of photograph, I for one am unable to perform these competently!! Holding a weight out in front as a counterbalance is the first step in being able to complete this movement. Once you are able to complete this movement, you can say that you are single leg proficient!
These exercises can be applied by anyone, but it is important to start at the very beginning and progress slowly when competent. On starting the single leg journey, a lot of stress is accumulated through the joints.
Recovery is essential after and between session to ensure proper control and technique for these movements, and to prevent injury.