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If Squats Make It Hot, Single Leg Squats Make It Hotter!

Posted on August 19 2018

Photo: Coach Mag


Everybody agrees that you can’t skip leg day right? (Some guys still do, but I bet they wouldn’t if they could hear the ladies say how ridiculous and disproportionate they look). And I have yet to meet a woman who skips legs.

The truth is, if you are trying to look hot in shorts or jeans (or naked), you have to train that lower body. And just as true, if you're an athlete training for optimal performance, you know that your power and speed comes from your lower body.

 

Squats Make It Hot

It is common knowledge that for building great glutes and hamstrings (butt and legs), nothing beats the squat. From world class strength and conditioning coaches, to the top fitness competitors in the sport, you won't find anyone who doesn’t center their lower body routine around the classic squat.

But, in addition to the classic, there are many variations of the squat. So, what type of squat is the best?

According to sports scientists at Texas State University, single leg squats are king! The researchers wrote in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that the single-leg squat (aka Bulgarian split squat) is superior to the classic squat and the stiff-leg deadlift when it comes to developing the hamstrings and the gluteus maximus. [1]

They determined this by noting that both the hamstring and gluteus maximus had to work more than 30 percent harder through the eccentric and concentric portions of the exercise when doing a single leg squat vs. a classic squat or a stiff-legged deadlift.

So, we should just skip classic squats and do single leg/Bulgarian split squats, right?

Not exactly. When we walk or run, we move uni-laterally, meaning we place one leg on the ground at a time. Yet when we train lower body, most of us focus on bi-lateral movements, like classic squats, where both limbs are sharing the stress of the exercise.  

By adding uni-lateral exercises, like the single leg squat, we do a great deal of core stabilization. This is great for improving overall balance and stability. 

Unilateral training also allows you to work each side of the body equally, which is important since people generally have a dominant side.

Your dominant side tends to overcompensate for the weaker side during bi-lateral exercises. This is easily observed when you see someone squatting and the weight seems to be tilted to one side. Uni-lateral exercises, like the single leg squat, allow you to strengthen the non-dominant side to eliminate these muscular imbalances.

While unilateral exercises, like the single leg squat, have clear benefits, you should incorporate them into your training along side, rather than in place of bilateral exercises. Bilateral exercises allow for better stability, since you are using both sides of the body together.

Greater stability allows for you to use more weight. As such, bilateral movements like classic back squats, deadlifts, and the barbell benchpress are the best movements for building absolute strength. 

 

Putting It All Together

A good practice is to start your leg training with a heavy bi-lateral exercise, like the classic back squat, and then move to unilateral exercises, like the single leg squat. 

Another option would be to alternate days. One lower body day, you would do unilateral single leg variations of squats, and then the next lower body day, you would do bilateral variants.

However you chose to incorporate them, you will definitely benefit from adding single leg/Bulgarian split squats to your routine. As with any exercise, you’ll want to make sure that you are doing them correctly, so that you avoid injury and stimulate the correct muscles.

Here's a video that does a great job of walking you through how to do the exercise properly, as well as pointing out how to spot incorrect form.

 

Look, training legs is legit hard work - that’s why so many guys blow it off. But, we know that you want to be a sexy beast!

And male or female, it doesnt matter - STRONG IS SEXY. That's exactly why you are going to add single leg squats to your next leg day.

Needless to say, if you haven't tried DVST8 Pre-Workout for increased energy, extreme focus, and massive pumps, now would be the perfect time for your next leg day!

-Jerry Teixeira

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29076958

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