The Single Leg Squat is a common exercise used to identify movement patterns as well as an excellent exercise option. Its a great exercise choice to develop stability and strength, and can work your lower limb musculature just as hard as a Barbell Back Squat with a moderate load on the bar.
Just how hard is a single leg squat?
Some recent research showed that a body-weight single leg squat produces approximately the same force demands as a barbell back squat equal to your bodyweight.
We looked to replicate this data on the Vald ForceDecks system in our clinic. We measured the amount of concentric and eccentric force produced during a single leg squat as well as a normal Barbell Back Squat and compared the results.
The force produced between the two exercises can be compared below with the test individual weighing 80kg. This is the data we collected:
The paper that inspired our own experimentation also describes a few other key relationships:
A Single Leg Squat with 0.5x BW additional load = BB Squat with 2 x BW load
A Single Leg Squat with 1x BW additional load = BB Squat with 3 x BW
Here is a nice graphic showing the relationships between SL Squat and BB Back squat loads from this paper:
What are our key takeaways from this data?
- The relative work rate differences between a body weighted single leg squat and a weighted barbell squat with 1 x BW additional load seem to display no significant differences in single leg loading metrics
- Being able to prescribe a single leg squat to specific populations that may struggle under increased compressive spinal loads can still benefit from just body weight training
- Individuals without access to gym equipment may still be able to obtain lower limb strength benefits by just doing single leg squats with their body weight
So next time you are in the gym, why not swap your usual squat routine and try out the single leg variation instead!
Graham-Smith, Philip & Natera. (2020). Load Comparison ration in single and double leg movements. 10.13140/RG.2.2.33093.88804.