Single Leg Squat: How to Perform, Benefits & Expert Tips 

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The single leg squat is an incredible movement that can help strengthen your legs and bust past plateaus when performed correctly.  

Although, it also happens to be a somewhat dangerous exercise if done with poor form, which is why practising good form right from the get-go is so important.  

Let’s get right into it and take a look at how to perform the single leg squat, the benefits that come from this exercise, and some expert tips to help accelerate your progress.  

One Leg Dumbbell Squat (AKA Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat) Overview 

The one-leg dumbbell squat, also known as the dumbbell Bulgarian split squat, is a challenging exercise that targets the lower body muscles while placing emphasis on single-leg strength and stability.  

By performing squats on one leg at a time, you engage multiple muscle groups and improve balance and coordination. 

How To Do A Single-leg Squat 

  1. Stand in a split stance with one foot positioned slightly in front of the other. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, allowing them to hang at your sides. 
  1. Shift your weight onto the front leg and maintain a tall posture with your core engaged. 
  1. Lower your body by bending at the knee and hip of the front leg. Aim to bring your back knee close to the ground while keeping your front knee in line with your toes. Keep your torso upright and avoid leaning forward. 
  1. Once you reach the bottom position, push through the heel of the front foot to extend your knee and hip, returning to the starting position. 
  1. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions, then switch to the other leg. 

One Leg Dumbbell Squat (AKA Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat) Video Exercise Guide 

Link: BULLETPROOF Your Knees With This Exercise! – YouTube 

Muscles Worked By The Single Leg Squat 

Quads 

The quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh are heavily engaged in the single-leg squat, particularly during the lowering phase and when pushing up from the bottom position. 

Glutes 

The gluteus maximus and medius muscles in the buttocks are activated to stabilize the hips and assist in hip extension. 

Hamstrings 

The hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh work to control the movement and provide stability during the exercise. 

Variation For Beginners: Single-leg Squat With Chair 

For beginners or those who need additional support, performing single-leg squats with a chair can be helpful.  

Start by standing in front of a chair with one foot raised slightly behind you. Lower your body by bending the knee of the standing leg and lightly touching the chair with your glutes.  

Use the chair as a guide and gradually increase the depth and range of motion as you progress. 

Advanced Variation: Pistol Squat 

The pistol squat is an advanced variation of the single-leg squat that involves squatting all the way down on one leg with the other leg extended in front. It requires significant strength, balance, and flexibility.  

To perform a pistol squat, raise one leg off the ground and squat down on the other leg while keeping the raised leg extended in front of you. Use a counterbalance, such as holding your arms straight out in front, to assist with balance and control. 

What Are The Benefits? 

Less Impact On Your Spine 

Unlike traditional squats or weighted barbell exercises, single-leg squats put less stress on your spine.  

This makes them a suitable option for individuals with lower back issues or those looking to minimize spinal compression during their workouts. 

Challenges Your Balance 

Single-leg squats require stability and balance, which engage the core muscles and help improve overall balance and coordination.  

This can be beneficial for activities that require single-leg strength, such as running, jumping, or playing sports. 

Safety Concerns 

Single-leg squats are generally safe when performed with proper form and appropriate progression.  

However, individuals with existing knee or hip injuries should consult with a healthcare professional before attempting this exercise. 

Additionally, always listen to your body and avoid pushing through pain or discomfort. 

How To Add Single-leg Squats To Your Routine 

  • Start with bodyweight squats to establish proper form and stability before adding weight or resistance. 
  • Begin with a moderate number of repetitions (8-12) and gradually increase the intensity and volume as you become more comfortable and stronger. 
  • Include single-leg squats as part of your leg or lower body training sessions, 2-3 times per week, allowing adequate recovery between sessions. 

Other Variations of Single-Leg Squats 

Single-Leg Balance 

Stand on one leg and focus on maintaining your balance for a set duration. This exercise helps improve stability and proprioception. 

Single-Leg Wall Squat 

Stand with your back against a wall and perform a single-leg squat, using the wall for support and stability. This variation helps maintain proper form and control. 

Single-Leg Box Squat 

Similar to the single-leg squat, but with the added support of a box or bench behind you.  

Lower your body until your glutes touch the box, then push back up to the starting position. This variation allows you to focus on depth and control. 

Single-Leg Goblet Squat 

Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at your chest with both hands and perform a single-leg squat. The added weight challenges your strength and stability. 

Common Mistakes 

Knee Too far Forward 

Avoid allowing your knee to extend too far beyond your toes during the squat. Instead, focus on pushing your hips back and maintaining a more upright position to protect your knee joint. 

Rounded Shoulders and Back 

Maintain proper posture throughout the exercise. Avoid rounding your shoulders or arching your lower back, as this can lead to poor form and potential injury. 

One Leg Dumbbell Squat (AKA Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat) Tips 

  • Focus on maintaining stability and control throughout the exercise. 
  • Keep your core engaged and maintain proper posture. 
  • Start with a weight that allows you to perform the exercise with good form and gradually increase the resistance as you become more proficient. 
  • Listen to your body and avoid pushing through pain or discomfort. 

Takeaway 

Incorporating one-leg dumbbell squats into your fitness routine can provide a challenging and effective way to improve lower body strength, stability, and balance. 

By following proper form, gradually progressing the difficulty, and paying attention to your body’s cues, you can safely enjoy the benefits of this exercise variation. 

Remember to consult with a fitness professional if you have any concerns or specific training needs, and have fun incorporating one-leg dumbbell squats into your workouts! 

Single Leg Squat – FAQs 


What Are Single-leg Squats Good For? 

Single-leg squats are good for building unilateral strength and correcting muscle imbalances.  

Is It Hard To Do A Single-leg Squat? 

Yes, it is hard to do a single-leg squat.  

It requires a substantial amount of strength in order to perform even one single-leg squat.  

Can You Build Muscle with Single-leg Squats? 

Yes, you can build muscle with single-leg squats. 

They are great for developing legs evenly and preventing muscle imbalances.  

Are Single Leg Squats Dangerous? 

No, single leg squats are not dangerous if you are strong enough to perform them and practise good form. 

However, if you do not possess the required strength to perform a single leg squat, then they can be dangerous.  

If you are new to single leg squats it is recommended to use a single leg squat machine while you build up your strength.  

We hope we have been able to give you a nudge in the right direction.  

Single leg squats are fantastic for muscle and strength gains, and if you are looking to spice up your routine or get past a sticking point on regular squats, then adding it to your routine is a must. 

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See you next time!