So much is made about the traditional squat being the “king of exercises” that it’s typically done only one way: with both feet on the floor. Sure, people use different equipment for squatting—barbells, Smith machines, dumbbells, kettlebells—but not enough attention is paid to the unilateral (one leg at a time) variation of the squat. And what a great variation it is, as it helps to alleviate right-to-left side imbalances, enhances stability and coordination, and can pay huge size and strength dividends when you go back to the two-leg version. Just keep in mind, this exercise is tougher than it looks, so tread lightly during your first few attempts.

The Squat Zone

Follow these instructions to master your technique for a stronger, thicker set of wheels

1. Place a bench or low box behind you in a squat rack. Position a relatively light barbell across your upper traps as you normally would for squatting, and unrack the bar.

2. Carefully lift one foot up behind you and place it firmly on the bench.

3. Stand tall with your chest out, back slightly arched, and your back leg bent around 90 degrees.

Bend your front leg, lowering yourself down toward the floor as if sitting down on a stool. When your thigh is parallel to the floor, press through your heel to return to standing.


Where It Hits: Quads, glutes, hamstrings

When To Do It: At the beginning of your leg workout, before regular squats

How Much To Do: 2-4 sets, 3-5 reps per leg (and up to 20 reps on light days)