How to Master Single Leg Squats

Posted on: March 22nd 2018

single leg squats RDA

Want to have better agility and explosive power? You need to start with single leg work – and single leg squats are the foundation.

Think about it: every skating movement is a drive off one leg. It makes sense, then, that we should train one leg at a time! 

In our workouts here at RDA I assign a lot of chair squats and single leg squats. Which is great… if you can already do those things!!

However, it actually takes a great deal of strength, balance, accessory stabilizing muscle action, and really good form in order to do them well! When you’re starting out with training (or coming back after some time away), you might need to start small and build your way up to a single leg squat over time.

In today’s video I’ll show you exactly how to build up your strength methodically so that your skating power can improve, quick. 

Exercise: Single Leg Squats & Chair Squats

What it works: Entire lower body, from feet to hips.

You need: A chair or bench, a weight (plate or dumbbell) approx 8 to 10 pounds.

Booty’s hot tip #1: Check out my tutorial on how to do excellent two-legged squats first, to make sure you understand the mechanics of a squat first. Replicate everything there when you attempt single leg squats.

Booty’s hot tip #2:  More form! There are two important form points that are different for chair squats. First, try to lower slowly and with control, and as you improve aim to just lightly touch your butt to your bench, rather than plop down and sit with all your weight. Second, feel free to stand close to your bench, but reach your bottom back to the far side / back of the chair – away from you. Ideally your supporting shin would stay almost vertical, and your knees will barely come forward as you lower.

When to do this: You can work on single leg squats 3-4 times per week, unless your other workouts are using a lot of the same muscles (like if you’re doing plyometric / power training or bodyweight HIIT with lots of jumping or squats). You can also practice popping off a few throughout your day – waiting for the bus, waiting for the printer, waiting for your water to boil…

Sets/Reps: Start at the top of the list. Once you can comfortably complete 3 sets of 8-10, graduate yourself to the next step in the progression. 1 through 6 below are with a chair or bench.

  1. Two-leg (2L) squats with counterweight (CW)
  2. 2L squats, no CW
  3. Single leg (SL) lower, 2L to stand, with CW
  4. 1L down, 2L up no CW
  5. 1L down, 1L up with CW
  6. 1L down, 1L up no CW
  7. Finally – you’re ready for single leg squats with no chair!

Remember: Check yourself out in a mirror, or film yourself, and mind what your supporting knee is up to at all times! There should be no wobbles or inward pitch of that knee! Use your glutes and external rotation from the hip to hold your knee steady, over the outer half of your supporting foot.

Now you have a whole tool kit of progressions to use whenever you see “Chair Squats” or “Single Leg Squats” in a Roller Derby Athletics workout! I can’t wait to see how strong you’ll be able to get if you commit yourself to working your way up this ladder.

I promise the results will show themselves on the track!

xo Booty Quake

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