Single-leg knee dominant exercises

The squat has a high carry-over to jumping and sprinting and improves athletic performance. Sports however are single-leg dominant in nature. During running and sprinting the body is propelled forward through powerful single-leg actions. Single-leg squats are therefore even more sport-specific than squats where both legs are involved.

The single-leg stance places a high demand on the Quadratus lumborum (lower back muscles) of the opposite side and on the hip abductors, hip external rotators and Vastus medialis obliquus of the supporting leg to stabilize the pelvis and knee. Weakness of any of these muscles causes the pelvis to tilt and the knee of the supporting leg to drift inward during single-leg support, creating an overload on the lumbar spine, sacroiliac joint and placing internal rotation forces on the knee.

During sprinting, single-leg landings and jumps the generated forces multiply several times body weight, placing a very high demand on stabilization. Single-leg exercises are an important part of the program to enhance athletic performance and prevent injuries. Single-leg squats improve balance, proprioceptive activity and assure balanced leg strength development.

  • Single-leg squat progression

    The single-leg squat progression consists of exercises that develop single-leg strength, stability and balance. The progression ranges in difficulty from beginner level to very challenging.

  • Step-ups

    Step-ups are a good way to start with single-leg dominant training, to develop single-leg strength and balance. This exercise group contains beginner exercises as well as three dimensional step-ups that mimic the lateral movements so frequently seen in sports.

  • Lateral squats

    Lateral squats are single-leg strengthening exercises that target more the inner thigh muscles. The difficuluty level of these exercises ranges from beginner to advanced.

  • Lunges

    Lunges develop single-leg strength and teach the athlete to decelerate movements. Multiple progressions and variations change the intensity, difficulty or emphasis of the exercise. Some variations target more the gluteus maximus, while others emphasize the inner thigh muscles.