Challenging Your Balance, Posture and Legs
By Ryan Unverzagt
Welcome back to another edition of From the Trainer! April is one of my favorites since I celebrate my birthday and I still have a few years to go before I hit the big 5-0! Staying in shape has always been my goal as I get older and it should be a priority for you as well.
This month’s exercise is the Single-Leg (SL) Dumb Bell (DB) Squat. It will challenge your balance, posture, and legs. The set up for this one is important because the wrong foot position can cause you problems. Let’s take it from the bottom up.
First, you need a place to put your uninvolved (back) foot. I used a 12-inch plyometric box, but a flat bench or an aerobic step works great too. Grab a pair of light DBs to hold at your sides. With the box or bench behind you, take a long stride forward to give yourself space to work. I have my right foot back on top of the box with the left leg supporting all of my body weight. Use your back foot for balance only (figure 1).
Lower yourself by bending at the hip and knee until you reach about 90 degrees. If your knee passes over your toes, widen your stance if necessary. You can hop your foot forward if you trust your balance, but I recommend taking your back foot off the bench or box to line it up with the front foot and then take a small step forward to increase your distance.
Keep your torso upright with good posture as you control the decent. Once you have reached the bottom (figure 2), push yourself back up by contracting the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps to extend your hip and knee of the front leg.
Try at least one set of ten repetitions per leg. You might find that one leg is stronger or your balance is better with one foot than the other. A great advantage of isolating a single leg is that you can correct those strength differences and imbalances by performing more sets on the weak side than the strong side.
The single-leg squat is a unique exercise that requires balance and concentration. You can also try this exercise without DBs to get comfortable using your own body weight. Enjoy!
About the Author: Unverzagt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wellness Management from Black Hills State University. He is a certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association and a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.