The single leg squat for the gluteal muscles, the split squat for the quads
Researchers at the University of St. Thomas in the US have compared the effect of the single leg squat on the leg muscles with that of the split squat. Their findings, published in the International Journal of Exercise Science, confirm what trainers actually already know. Of these two exercises, the split squat is the better when it comes to your quads. The single leg squat, on the other hand, is the superior exercise if you want to develop your gluteal muscles.
Exercise scientist Mary Knoll had 17 physically active students perform both exercises. The students did not use any weights. Judging by the way they performed the exercises, the test subjects were not very strong.
For these two reasons, Knoll's research is therefore perhaps not directly relevant for strength athletes, but may be for physiotherapists, trainers and athletes who want to start with body weight training.
The researchers had glued electrodes on the test subjects' legs so that they could see how hard the muscles beneath the electrodes had to work. The more electrical activity the electrodes measured, the greater the muscle's actvivity.
The researchers looked at both the maximum electrical activity and the average of the electrical activity.
The split squat mainly stimulated the leg muscles such as rectus femoris [RF], vastus lateralis [VL] and vastus medialis. Of the two exercises, the single leg squat [SLS variation] provided the strongest stimulus for the gluteal gluteus major [GM].
The reduction in the amount of oxidized cholesterol in the test subjects was related to a change in the composition of their LDL cholesterol. The greater the decrease in the amount of oxidized cholesterol, the greater the decrease in the number of small LDL particles [top left].
In 2009, American sports scientists from the University of North Carolina published a study in which they determined the effect of body weight exercises on the glutes. The single leg squat came out best.
Int J Exerc Sci. 2019 Aug 1;12(1):950-9.
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