How To Do a Single-Leg Squat: Correct Form, Tips, Technique, Variations, and Benefits

Learn how to do a single-leg squat. (Image via Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels)
Learn how to do a single-leg squat. (Image via Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels)

The single-leg squat is one of the best exercises to do if you want strong glutes and legs. A well-executed squat works every one of the primary leg muscles, including the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

There are numerous variations of the squat. However, today, we are going to be talking about one variation, which is not only a great way to build strength in your legs but also helps alleviate the pain of runner’s knee.

This variation is a single-leg squat or pistol squat. Once you've mastered squatting with both legs and every other squat variation, a single-leg squat is a great method to try out.

Adopting a single-leg stance can help you increase your agility, coordination, muscular endurance, and core strength while also stimulating new muscle growth in the targeted leg.

In this article, we will discuss how to do a single-leg squat with the correct posture, its health benefits, and more.

How to perform a single-leg squat

How to perform the single-leg squat exercise. (Image via Pinterest)
How to perform the single-leg squat exercise. (Image via Pinterest)

A single-leg squat is purely a bodyweight exercise, so you don't need any equipment. However, remember to maintain the correct stance and range of motion.

If you're a beginner, it is advisable to modify the single-leg squat using a chair. Without any further ado, here's how you do a single-leg squat correctly:

  • Maintain a straight back and roll your shoulder blades.
  • Maintain a balanced weight distribution across the ball of your foot, an upright upper body, and a forward-facing head.
  • Raise the non-supporting foot off the ground.
  • By hinging your hips back and keeping the knee of the supporting leg centered on the ball of the foot, progressively lower to a squat position. Your neck and spine should be in a relaxed position, and your sight should be right in front.
  • To get back up, squeeze your glutes and push onto your right foot. Throughout reps, try to elevate your left leg.
  • Before shifting to the left leg, do three sets of 10 reps on each side.

If this is a little too intense for you, you can start with an easy variation of this exercise using a chair.

Here’s how to do the beginner version of a single leg squat:

  • Start by sitting on a chair and keeping your torso erect and your core engaged.
  • Extend one leg straight out in front of you while seated, and place your balance on the heel of the other leg that will remain on the ground.
  • Stand up, balanced on your planted leg with your weight on your heel.
  • Slowly lower yourself back into the chair while keeping the same leg raised.
  • Do three sets of five reps.

There is also an advanced version of the single-leg squat. This variation is popularly known as a ‘pistol squat.’ In this variation, you will require equipment like dumbbells or kettlebells. It's basically single-leg squats with weights. You can also try pistol squat alternatives for building the legs of your dreams.

Here’s how to do it:

  • To do this motion, start with a single-leg squat and add the kettlebell or dumbbells to the mix.
  • If you're doing the motion with a kettlebell, grip it in both hands in front of your chest.
  • If you’re doing it with dumbbells, hold them in front of your chest and perform the squat.

Benefits of a single-leg squat

Single-leg squats benefits. (Image via Freepik)
Single-leg squats benefits. (Image via Freepik)

A single-leg squat is a great exercise to train your quads, glute muscles, hamstrings, and calves muscles without any fitness equipment. All you need is your body weight and a little bit of hard work.

Just like a regular squat, a single-leg squat is very beneficial for training your leg muscles.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a single-leg squat:

1) Better stability

Single-leg squats help you achieve better stability. This is because you are training your legs and engaging your core muscles to balance your full body weight on a single leg while performing a squat. This exercise also gives you better control over your leg muscles.

2) Prevent knee pain

We’re all familiar with the runner’s knee and how inconvenient it is. One movement that can save you from such pain is a single-leg squat.

It is a great exercise to prevent knee pain because when you do it, you are training your hamstrings. This is one of the best ways to prevent knee discomfort.

3) Promotes core strength

The core is one of the muscle groups that gets activated in a single-leg squat. If you are looking for an exercise that can target your legs as well as your core, the single-leg squat is for you.

Mistakes to avoid

Mistakes to avoid while performing single-leg squats. (Image via Pinterest)
Mistakes to avoid while performing single-leg squats. (Image via Pinterest)

Maintaining a proper form is crucial to getting the best out of the single-leg squat. If you want to avoid serious injuries, avoid the following mistakes while performing this squat:

  • Don't let your knees go too forward when you are squatting down on one leg. Throughout the movement, your knees should be aligned with your toes. The length of your knee should not extend past your toes.
  • While performing this exercise, keep your spine straight and your neck relaxed and in a neutral position. Do not bend your back.

Incorporating a single-leg squat into your workout routine can be a great move. It is one of the best ways to increase strength, balance, and coordination.

However, remember to be cautious with your reps. If you're new to exercising, classic squats are a good place to start. If single-leg squats hurt or feel too difficult, switch to double-leg squats until you're ready to move on to this more challenging exercise.