With all the equipment available in the gym it’s easy to forget that some of the most effective exercises can be done using only your bodyweight. Press ups and pull ups are the classic upper body movements, but one of the best exercises to really increase the strength in your legs and improve your athletic performance is the single leg squat.
If you incorporate this exercise into your routine you should see an increase in physical endurance and court speed, with improvements to your balance as your core muscles are tested throughout the movement.
The other huge plus is that you can do this pretty much anywhere as it should be challenging enough (at least initially) that you won’t need to include weights. There are two ways to perform the movement. If you have access to a box or a bench that’s close to knee level it’s best to use that as it’s a slightly easier motion, but if not then don’t worry.
First, hold your arms out in front of you at around shoulder height. You’ll need them there to help you balance. Slowly bend your left leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor, pause for a second, then slowly push back up. The position of your right leg will depend on the use of the bench. If you’re using the bench just make sure your right foot stays off the ground. If not keep your right knee straight and slowly move your leg forwards as you lower yourself to the floor.
You should try to complete as many reps as possible on one side before moving on to the other, completing 3 sets each side. Once you can comfortably do more than 12 reps for each leg it is time to consider adding some weight to the movement.
Dumbbells or kettlebells will work best, holding one in each hand while completing the movement. Start with light weights as it makes it much more difficult, and you should feel it a bit more in your core once weight is added.