July 12, 2013

Single Leg Squat progressions | step by step workshop

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We talk about the use of power bands, and the necessity of perfecting negative elements under control, before attempting full versions—this advice is given because we are 40--50% stronger in eccentric contractions (here, lowering) than we are in concentric contractions.

As well, Kit discusses the role of the progression elements in helping to correct ankle pronation, and we get a graphic view of an attendee working hard to control this.

The use of blocks under the heel as training tools and the fundamental role ankle flexibility plays in this exercise is demonstrated and broken down for you.

Read transcription

Kit Laughlin:

Why don't you demo a single leg squat while we're waiting? Because then

Speaker 2:

Sure.

Kit Laughlin:

And when you go to sleep tonight folks, this is what you envision in yourself.

Speaker 2:

Like Kit said, we're going to learn the deck squat in a little while, which was what really helped me get a single leg squat, because part of my thing was the fear of doing a single leg squat. You could hold on. Do you teach either way?

Kit Laughlin:

Either way.

Speaker 2:

Either way. Or you can do the leg in free space business. Holding on provides that chain of, "Ah, I'm here and I know where I am." Always watch yourself in the mirror, if you can. As you get closer to the floor, you'll have to straighten out a little bit. And as Kit said, it's highly diagnostic so I can feel where I am. I can feel if I've got one hip forward. I can feel where my knee is. I can feel if I'm going to start lifting like that, which would be bad. And I want to try and drive my chest up to come into-

Kit Laughlin:

That's the perfect single leg squat.

Speaker 3:

Well done.

Speaker 2:

Okay. Now you're going to see my bad leg... So that was my demonstration leg.

Speaker 3:

Do you ever swap arm to foot?

Kit Laughlin:

Yes, yes.

Speaker 2:

Do I ever? Or I go...

Kit Laughlin:

I think you normally hold the same-

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Of the same side.

Kit Laughlin:

Now, watch what happens to her right knee. This is what I mean about diagnosis. It will show you-

Speaker 2:

Watch what happens to my hips. They tend to swing out to the side. I'm going to try not to, but it's definitely the leg that doesn't work as well.

Kit Laughlin:

It's pretty good. Damn good.

Speaker 2:

You see how my toes are hanging onto my fingers?

Kit Laughlin:

There wasn't much wrong with it.

Speaker 2:

Hard one.

Kit Laughlin:

The first exercise to practice is just this. Heels against the support. Go down and come up. It's very easy on the high support that's the whole point. Perfect. Beautiful.

Kit Laughlin:

I can't believe we haven't used this thing for that-

Speaker 4:

Get a bell, and move that.

Kit Laughlin:

Put it in the centre of the room, please.

Speaker 5:

Yeah.

Kit Laughlin:

Perfect. Now those of you who find it very easy off a high support, go down to the next lowest support and then try it on the floor.

Greg:

Yeah get back on... You've done it before.

Speaker 4:

I haven't done this for a while.

Kit Laughlin:

And come up on two legs. I go down on one, negative. Come up on two. Down on one, come up on two. You get it?

Kit Laughlin:

Now, let me us Pat as an object here, an object lesson. Do it again in your left leg. And can the camera come around and look at his form. Look at the work that his body is struggling to do to keep alignment in his ankles. We're going to go down on the left leg again, right. That is what we're trying to train in the body. And so when you're doing this for yourself, I would recommend that you do it in front of something like this. And you actually watch your ankle and make sure you're getting the full visual feedback experience all the way down, and just try to hold everything still as possible as you go down. Once you master it with your eyes open, you try it with your eyes closed, really feeling what's happening in your ankles and knees. Excellent.

Kit Laughlin:

And it's a skill; you're teaching yourself something new if you haven't done this before. Now John, can I borrow you. And use the high supports under your feet. Single-leg deck squat – go down on one leg, roll back, come up on one leg. With momentum it's about half is hard as doing a real single leg squat. Perfect off you go. That's your next task. Take your time. Use the higher support for your first attempt please; it is much easier. Excellent first attempt Sarah. Truly excellent first attempt. Excellent Steven, yes. You were there.

Speaker 2:

Great Angela.

Kit Laughlin:

Angela, that's excellent. Now folks, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Watching other people do the single leg squat will not affect your own at all. Keep going.

Kit Laughlin:

Let me ask this question to the group. How many of you are struggling to get out of that bottom position? Right, everyone is. Now let me show you what I found to be the best – apart from the skater squat, which is the position you were just in then.

Sherry:

Oh.

Kit Laughlin:

That was exactly the skater squat position . Watch. Here is the next, most important assistant exercise. Again with the kettlebell. Hold, hold, hold. Change legs. Hold, hold, hold. Change legs, stand up. You'll be able to do it.

Cherie:

I find that easier than when I was on the ground.

Kit Laughlin:

Yeah, and then we have to come back to the rolling one. I'm trying to teach you a progression. That's it. Hold that, hold that. That's your glutes, my friend. That's excellent, Cherie. Cherie's got the flexibility to do the form perfectly. Don't let your left ankle collapse Angela.

Kit Laughlin:

But if you had a go with the holding of bottom position. Now for you, and for a few more of you, try the rolling back and then rolling into a one-legged squat. You'll have to practice it a few times. It requires some coordination, but it's a brilliant exercise. Off you go. Oh, with a weight is perfectly good, yes. With a weight actually makes it a tiny bit easier to do, right. By using the weight.

Kit Laughlin:

How cool is that? My brother used to have a saying, normally only when he was paying out on me about something. No victory too small. Your first single legged squat, that's a big one. Oh, look at that. From a dead start. Now when I was speaking to Lester when we first met, he was telling me that he's doing quite heavy dead lifts at the moment. I said yes, but can you do a single-leg squat? And he said, no. Obviously, not so. Would that be both legs?

Speaker 6:

Yes.

Kit Laughlin:

Awesome. Yes. A chunk of wood is a perfectly good counterweight, but for most of you... Watching you do this exercise... That's great. Roger.

Kit Laughlin:

I strongly recommend you get into that bottom position and just hold it. Look at the clock. Try it for 10 seconds. Watch John here. John, clock is on. That's five seconds. 10 seconds. Go down, change legs.

Speaker 2:

Right on, John.

Kit Laughlin:

Excellent, clock's on. Now see how he's come up a good two or three inches from bottom position, that's all good. And bring the second leg in, and stand up. That's perfection. And so you're using a band? Why not? The only difficulty with the band is that the balance component is taken away. Look, let me show you what I mean. Watch this. I used to do this version all the time, but I've abandoned it and I'll show you why. This version's just simply too easy. When you do a version like this, it looks like the same exercise. But it's not the same exercise, because my body mass is way behind the balance point and I'm counteracting that by using the band. This, in my view, will not help you get out of that bottom position.

Kit Laughlin:

What you are doing though by holding the bottom position with a weight or a block or a dumbbell or something, even with something really light, that will.

Kit Laughlin:

Show us your one legged squat. All my life, my brother's tortured me with his capacity to do a one-legged squat.

Greg:

Actually, if there was a god I'd fail now.

Kit Laughlin:

No, he doesn't even need that.

Greg:

I'm going to use... If I can get the balance, I'm going to take it out all the way down.

Kit Laughlin:

Can you see how his proportion is helpful to this? That's the point. Because he's got more of his weight forward of the balance point. This is why I need to have even more flexible ankles than him, in order to do it, to get the body's mass forward. Every body shape has its own advantages and disadvantages. And guess what? You're not going to change your proportion, not in this lifetime.

Greg:

But I'm a cyclist and you're a runner, which is also-

Kit Laughlin:

That's right. So do the other leg. Can you do the other leg?

Greg:

No. My knee is a little bit sore from the... Which is very revealing.

Kit Laughlin:

Mobility stuff.

Greg:

I could do it, but I just doesn't feel right.

Kit Laughlin:

Look that stuff we are doing the other day when you're doing the inside out squat and the other things that Craig was taking us through. If you do too many of those, you can definitely clique your knees. You must build up to them slowly. I remember that was one of the very few things that Coach said about holding people back from trying things, he said, "don't do any more than one or two of these today. You'll be sore for a week." And that is my experience.

Greg:

See if I can do it with no movement at all.

Kit Laughlin:

Yep. That's perfect. Perfect. Perfect one-legged squat. However, just like a bird needs two wings to fly ... we need to be able to do one-legged squat on both legs.

Greg:

That's all I can do. I cannot walk I can just...

Speaker 6:

You said a one-legged squat.

Kit Laughlin:

Yeah.

Speaker 6:

One-legged squat.

Kit Laughlin:

Greg favours the holding the foot method. But because I've been doing so much gymnastics stuff, I favour just holding the leg out in front.

Kit Laughlin:

Excellent. You've got that.

Speaker 2:

That's great.

Kit Laughlin:

Did you notice by the way the knee moved medially? So to settle yourself, just think weight on the outside of the foot. See how your knee wants to come in? Don't let it come in. Go all the way down. That's perfect. Come up smoothly. Yep, that's exactly what the body wants to do. So listen, another tip. If you are starting to fail form-wise on the way up, only practice negatives, until you're strong enough. Very good. Now John's got another little trick that he's going to show you. Grab a very small weight John, or use that ball. If your ankle flexibility... I'm not recommending this. I would recommend strongly you practice without any heel lift whatsoever. But this got him over the confidence of actually ... gave him the confidence to actually do it.

Kit Laughlin:

Now, look at the difference. Take that block away and just at the mechanics. This is purely an ankle flexibility problem. Look at the bend in the back. Yep. That's because he's struggling to get his body weight far enough forward over the balance point.

Greg:

About halfway the knee stopped travelling forwards.

Kit Laughlin:

Yes. Let's now now doing exactly the same one on the same leg. Look at the difference. Mechanics is as much about proportion as it is about flexibility too.

 

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