Improving Glute Activation with Single-Leg Squats

Here at flawlessactivation, I talk a lot about how you must release your muscles before they can activate.

So what happens when you’ve paid your dues, and your glutes are finally starting to wake up?

You must now strengthen them.

And the best way to do that?

Single-leg squats.

woman performing a single-leg squat

The single-leg squat is exactly what it sounds like: a squat using just one leg.

For the purpose of fixing our glute imbalance, we want to aim for 3 sets of 10 reps a day.

Or 6 sets of 5 reps.

Or 30 sets of 1 rep.

It doesn’t really matter, as long as you do them correctly. If your form starts to suffer, stop and take a break!

Here are the most important points to remember when performing this exercise:

1. Use support when first starting out

Hold onto something stable for balance. This will help prevent your body from shaking uncontrollably on the way down, meaning that you’ll also have increased glute activation on the way up.

2. Stop descending when you feel the hip starting to work

At first, you’ll have an extremely low ROM. This is perfectly OK. A low ROM with moderate glute activation is better than a high ROM with no glute activation. Go too low, and you’ll start to place stress on your hip.

3. Visualize pushing from your heel

Like I discussed in a previous post, this is the most important cue when squatting; driving from your heel will in turn facilitate glute activation.

4. Make gradual improvements

Over time, your ROM will increase, your glute activation will increase, and your hip involvement will decrease.

Your balance will also improve, so you can try doing a few reps without holding onto something for support.

5. Realize that you’ll never be perfect

I still have a harder time doing a single-leg squat on my left leg than on my right leg. In fact, I still prefer to balance onto something when doing left-one-legged squats in order to provide me with that stability (something that I probably need to work on).

Realize that you’ll never be perfect. You’ll always have a stronger side. That’s just life.

The important point is to ask yourself: am I experiencing adequate glute activation while minimizing hip intervention? If your glute is firing while the hip remains relatively quiet, then you’re probably ready to start performing two-legged squats.


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