Single Leg Box Squat: How To, Muscles Worked, Tips and Tricks

Single Leg Box Squat: How To, Muscles Worked, Tips And Tricks

Single Leg Box Squat: How To, Muscles Worked, Tips and Tricks

How to Perform a Single Leg Box Squat: Muscles Targeted, Techniques, and Advice

By vkim on 2024-07-01 11:34:59

Single Leg Box Squat: How To, Muscles Worked, Tips And Tricks

Love it or not, squatting is an effective way to build muscle and strength, and it's a non-negotiable part of any serious workout routine. One squat variation that's worth your attention is the single leg box squat.

Overall box squat variations are fantastic for many reasons, but the three main that keep me coming back to them are the box provides a reference point, which is essential for the novice to build good squatting form. Second, reducing the range of motion is excellent for this with hip mobility or knee discomfort issues. And third, the reduced ROM allows most to load heavier than usual.

The single leg box squat, an often-overlooked variation, is a hidden gem for unilateral strength. Let's do a mini deep dive into this forgotten powerhouse exercise.

What is the Single Leg Box Squat

The single leg box squat is a challenging lower-body exercise targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles. It's excellent for building unilateral strength and balance. The exercise involves squatting on one leg, using a box or bench as a reference point, and for better support. It helps increase lower body strength, address muscle imbalances, and improve athletic performance.

How To Perform The Single Leg Box Squat

1. Stand in front of a box or bench with your feet shoulder-width apart and feet pointed forward.

2. Lift your foot off the ground, extending it forward or keeping it slightly bent.

3. Lower your body by bending the knee of the standing leg and pushing your hips back.

4. Keep your chest up and your core tight while lowering.

5. Lower until your glutes lightly touch the box or bench.

6. Pause, then push through the foot of the working leg to return to the starting position.

7. Reset and repeat for desired reps, then perform on the other side.

Muscles Worked By The Single Leg Box Squat

The single leg box squat is a lower-body exercise that trains multiple muscle groups. Here's a brief look at their role during this exercise:


During the single-leg box squat, they work to extend the knee as you rise from the squat, providing the strength needed to stand back up.


They help control the descent during the squat by eccentrically contracting to slow down the lowering phase. Plus, they assist in tracking the knee joint in both phases of the squat.


The glutes kick in to drive the hips forward and upward as you rise from the squat. This muscle is crucial for generating power and maintaining hip stability. The gluteus medius and minimus help maintain balance, prevent the hips from dropping to one side, and prevent the knee from collapsing inward.


The adductor muscles assist in stabilizing the working leg and maintaining alignment of the knee and hip. Depending on the squat phase, they also contribute to hip flexion and extension.


The calves stabilize the ankle joint and contribute during the concentric by plantarflexing the foot. Plantarflexion helps maintain balance and control during this exercise.


Your core provides the necessary support to keep the spine neutral and prevent excessive forward lean and lower back flexion.

Hip Flexors:

The hip flexors assist in stabilizing the pelvis and controlling the descent during the squat. They help maintain proper hip alignment and contribute to hip flexion and extension.

Dean Drobot / Shutterstock

of the Single Leg Box Squat

With the single leg box squat, like many unilateral moves, stability becomes an important issue—this move easily make you look foolish at the beginning. But foolishness does come with important , listed below.

Unilateral Strength

The single leg box squat is a powerful move for developing unilateral lower-body strength. When you isolate each leg, you build muscle and ensure balanced muscular development. When you're stronger on one leg, this leads to being stronger on two.

Improved Stability

Stability is a game-changer regarding athletic performance and overall fitness, and the single-leg box squat is excellent at building it. This exercise demands balance and coordination, challenging your core and all those small stabilizer muscles. This improves your balance and proprioception—your body's ability to sense its position in space.


When you strengthen imbalances between sides, your joints are better supported, reducing the likelihood of injury during daily activities and intense workouts. The improved balance and coordination you gain from this exercise translates to better movement patterns and reduces your injury risk from improper movement.

Two Fitness Beginners Making Single Leg Box Squat Mistakes On The Box

Single Leg Box Squat Common Mistakes

You're squatting to a box, so how hard can that be? Well, balancing on one leg adds tension to your ankle, knee, hip, and lower back, and a few things can go amiss during the single leg box squat.

Knee Alignment

When the working knee of the working leg caves inward (valgus collapse) or drifts excessively forward, it places undue on the knee joint and can lead to pain and injury.

Fix it: Strengthen the glute medius and mini with lateral walks and side lunges for better knee tracking. Gripping the floor with the working foot can provide the necessary tension to maintain better knee alignment.

Rounding the Back

Letting your lower back round, especially as you reach the lower part of the squat, can strain the spine and lead to lower back pain.

Fix it: Actively brace your anterior core to ensure a neutral spine. Think about keeping your chest up and your shoulders back throughout the exercise.

Using Excessive Momentum

Using momentum to bounce off the box or quickly reversing the movement reduces the exercise's effectiveness by reducing muscular tension and increases the risk of losing your balance.

Fix it: Perform slowly and with control and pause briefly when you touch the box.

Inadequate Depth

If you're not touching and pausing on the box, what's the point? This limits the range of motion and reduces the exercise's benefits listed above.

Fix it: Lower until your glutes lightly touch the box. If you're a beginner, start with a higher box and gradually decrease the height as you gain strength and mobility.


It's best to begin this exercise with body weight before adding load—two to four sets of eight to 10 reps as an accessory exercise works well. When you can do 12 reps with good form on both sides, you have the green light to add load.

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