Split Squats, Lunges, and Single-Leg Squats (Pistols)

Posted on 02 Apr 2009 17:32

By Eric Troy, Ground Up Strength

Single leg movements: So what's the difference?

Much confusion exists as to the difference between these movements especially owing to confusing terminology like 'stationary lunges'.

Let's keep it simple. The following video shows a basic Split Squat. Variations to change emphasis, increase range of motion, or progress in difficulty would be:

1. Change the stance length.
Increasing the distance between the front and back legs increases range of motion. A shorter stance puts more emphasis on the quadriceps and a longer one on the hamstrings. Pushing off the ball of the foot favors the quadriceps somewhat as well whereas pushing off the heel the hamstrings.

2. Elevate the back leg.
The leg can be placed on an aerobic stepper and the height can be increased gradually as a means of progression or to increase range of motion or both. Stance width can be changed duing this as well.

3. Elevate the front leg.
Same thing as to progression.

Split Squat

Keep torso upright, shoulders back, chest out

The next video shows a dynamic or forward lunge (front lunge). Again the stance width can be increased for the same reasons as above.

Dynamic Lunge

Reverse Lunge

You can do all these movments bodyweight, with dumbells or kettlebells, barbells in back or front grip position or while holding odd objects, medicine balls, etc. in front of you.

So the split squat is a squat done in a lunge position, statically without ACTUALLY lunging. The rest should be self explanatory.

The single-leg squat, or pistol is an ACTUAL squat done on one leg with NO support (ultimately). The split squat exercise is often called a one-legged squat. It is not. You are using two legs. Sorry.

This is known as a static unsupported exercise.

The next vid is a tutorial from Steve Cotter. I'd encourage you to tune in to his entire series. Don't expect to be able to do something like this anytime soon but you can shoot for it. I included this because it is an example of what is possible. Note that Steve Cotter looks more stable doing a weighted pistol than the the people in the above videos looked with split squats and lunges.

Stever Cotter Pistol Squat Video


This page created 02 Apr 2009 17:32
Last updated 30 Jan 2017 21:06

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