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Build Balance and Strength with Single Leg Squats

Use the single leg squat for strength, power and coordination

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Updated May 16, 2014

Female runner crouching on track
Sarah M. Golonka/Stockbyte/Getty Images
A simple way to develop strength, balance and coordination, and possibly reduce the pain of runner's knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome) is to add single leg squats to your training programs. The ability to perform this simple exercise easily and gracefully will develop your stability and core strength and also help you prevent injury, and improve your sports performance.

To begin adding this exercise to your routine you should start slowly and build up. You may find initially that you can not control your body, your ankle begins to wobble, your knee rotates, and your upper body sways. You may find your balance is not what you thought.

If this is the case, you may want to begin with simple one leg balancing until you can stand on one leg for 30 seconds. While performing this exercise, you will be developing the smaller stabilizing muscles. After several sessions, you will find your balance improves tremendously. Now it's time to begin one-legged squats to build strength.

How to Do Single Leg Squats

  • Begin while in front of a mirror (over time you can leave the mirror behind).
  • Stand on one leg with foot pointing straight ahead and knee slightly bent.
  • Keep your weight centered over the ball of the foot.
  • Keep your upper body erect with your head facing forward.
  • Tuck your pelvis under and roll your shoulder blades back (don't round your shoulders).
  • Keeping the knee centered over the ball of the foot, lower into a squat position.
  • Start with shallow squats.
  • Once you develop your strength, coordination, and balance, you can add hand weights, or hold a medicine ball to build additional strength.
  • Repeat 3 sets of ten squats on each leg.
  • Over time, consider performing the squat on an unstable or smaller surface such as a mini trampoline or balance beam.

The one-leg squat exercise is a simple, fun and useful addition to any weight training routine. Try it and see!

Also see: The Single Leg Squat and Reach

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