A happy belated Independence Day to both the U.S. and our neighbors to the north. Hopefully everyone had a good holiday and didn't get the meat sweats too badly, well even if you did, bravo. Some of us need to be made up for anyway. Myself and Catherine enjoyed a nice trip back to the motherland (Maine) to spend time with family and friends we see way too little.
It just so happens in the last couple weeks there's some really smart people that have been pumping out content speaking concerning one of the 5 basic movements, the squat. My post today is not about the variations because it's a subject that a billion other people more experienced than myself have written and spoken about. I DO want to talk about it's need to exist in a strength training program, and how you can work the movement pattern in a way some may not quite consider.
For me, when I'm trying to make sure there's balance in a program, I equivocate any lunge variation to a squat motion. I've long believed this to be a fact and have applied it to my program design for awhile. Complete Program Design from Coach Dos is the most prominent place I can recall where I actually saw this in writing.
There is little debate from me about whether or not it is or isn't the same movement pattern as a squat and should be treated as such. Reason being, some people simply can not squat without getting themselves in trouble, like injury trouble. I'm talking the way your bones are put together. There's no changing that last time I checked, unless of course you want to opt for a strategic break (wouldn't recommend this). Even when you have an issue such as this, you still need to train those muscles, There's several options, lunges, step ups, single leg squat and others. My go to in these cases, Bulgarian Split Squats. I like this because the working legs is doing all the work and about 98% of the balancing (pulled that number from you know where), but it's not uber reliant on the working leg for balance, which makes it an appropriate choice for most people you bump into.
Some people have muscle and tendon issues that need to calm down and turn off (can you say hip flexors?) before they are able to squat bilaterally at all, let alone heavy. You may never ever be able to do much beyond a light goblet squat, good thing there's a million ways to load a split squat.
As I said, some may never get to a squat variation they can load heavily, but everyone can find a single leg variation that will work for them (with few exceptions). It's OK to dread the day you have your single leg training, whether it's the main exercise or a complimentary one, but just know, it's doing you a world of good.
That's what I got for today folks, hope this makes you hate single leg work a little less than you did before you read it. Go out there and get after it!
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS