Unilateral Exercise: Single Leg Stability Ball Wall Squat

This week’ blog is aimed at explain the benefits of unilateral training, and give an example of such training. After understanding unilateral training, we will take a look at single leg stability ball (swiss ball) wall squats.

By definition unilateral means: occurring on, performed on, or affecting one side of the body or one of its parts – Merriam Webster. Just to throw down some ideas of what these could relate to in the gym would be: single arm dumb bell curls/presses, Turkish get ups, single leg squats, and single leg deadlift to mention a few. The purpose for unilateral exercise can be for rehabilitation, more force production, and/or simply balancing the left and right sides of the body to make us more efficient.

Unilateral work also taxes the core, as it removes the ability for the body to have either a stable base of support (single leg dead lift) or places high demand while having weight overhead (single arm dumbbell press) avoiding too much trunk deviation. Along with assisting the core strength, we also decrease the balance deficiency between left and right sides of the body. This is a prime way to reduce injury while performing lifts, or even daily tasks. We can see injury occur when one side of the body over compensates for the other sides inability to perform tasks.

Now that we have a brief understanding of unilateral exercise let us take a look at a specific exercise thought The Strength and Conditioning Journal from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

“The Single Leg Wall Squat With a Stability Ball”

Peter Ronai, MS, RCEP, CSCS-D, NSCA-CPT-D, CSCS and Anthony Pastore, BS. Strength and Conditioning Journal (April 2015) 37/2 P.89-91.

Used as a supplemental exercise the single leg stability ball squat can assist in developing strength and stability in the knees and hips. Along with rehabilitation of patellofemoral pain, this exercise is great for increase strength of the abductor muscle Gluteus medius. Overall we see the use of the following muscles:

Descending eccentric (control rate of descending)

  • Gluteus maxiums, minimums

  • Hamstrings:

  • Semimembranosus

  • Semitendinosus

  • Bicep femoris

  • Quadriceps:

  • Vastus lateralis

  • Vastus Intermedius

  • Vastus Medialis

  • Rectus femoris

Ascending concentrically (control rate of ascending)

  • Gluteus maximus, minimums

  • Hamstrings:

  • Semimembranosus

  • Semitendinosus

  • Bicep femoris

  • Quadriceps:

  • Vastus lateralis

  • Vastus Intermedius

  • Vastus Medialis

  • Rectus femoris

Proper position for this exercise is with the stability ball against the wall with your person against it with firm pressure at/near belt line. Feet need to be placed flat on the floor and knee aligns with second toe. While performing this exercise the shin perpendicular to the floor. Descend: with one leg raised off the floor you should breathe in and slowly lower until thighs are parallel to the floor (depending on previous injuries and or abilities one can be below or above parallel). Ascending: Pushing though your feet and exhaling begin to rise to the starting position. Ensure that at all times you maintain spinal alignment and work each leg at the same number of repetitions and time (descending and ascending). Progression can be moved from body weight to dumb bells in hands, numbers of repetitions, and time under tension.

With the knowledge of importance in unilateral training, and a guide to the single leg squat, give it a try. Start slow and easy; you do not have to have pain to gain, there will be a learning curve so try to not push too hard to fast.

NOTE:

Often over looked is proper ball size. When sitting on a stability ball your hips and knees should be at 90 degrees (or very close).

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