Many argue that the single leg squat or pistol is the ultimate display of lower body strength, at least when it comes to a single leg. Coaches and trainees alike love single leg squats and pistols. Me too, but I currently love airborne lunges (some call them skater squats) more. Why? First I think they’re incredibly challenging. Probably as difficult as a single leg squat to a low box but likely doesn’t require as much mobility, meaning that it’s applicable to more people. I think that’s a good thing considering the benefits. Do I wish everyone had great symmetrical mobility? Sure, but if I have to resort to airborne lunges to get someone extremely strong on one leg then I can live with it.
The airborne lunge is slightly different in that it is somewhat of a hybrid movement. It is much more hip dominant than a single leg squat but certainly has some knee dominant qualities. Does that make it slightly more beneficial from an athletic perspective? It’s certainly possible considering the hips back forward lean position looks more athletic and the opposite non-working hip gets some extension while the other flexes. Talk about trying to get lower than your opponent, it can also be done from a deficit for added difficulty. I prefer to use some dumbbells in the hands for a counter balance as opposed to the video show below.
I will continue to use the single leg squat in my programming but for now am emphasizing the effectiveness of the airborne lunge. At Ambition Athletics we are currently experimenting with different weighted variations of the airborne lunge. Just see the videos below. Beware that they can make you extremely sore. Max added that he finds the airborne lunge to be superior for the following reasons:
– Asymmetrical stance: One hip in extension with the other in flexion improves gait and is overall more practical for athleticism; sprinting, etc.
– Glute Blaster 10,000,000: Did 5×5 with the Zercher airborne lunge and felt my glutes like never before the next day. This is a good thing.
– Safer: Much easier to perform with a neutral spine than a pistol or single leg squat.
– Easier to load up heavy with a barbell or two KB’s.
– Also easy to make harder or easier through changing the ROM by standing on a small box (or 2×4) or lunging to a small box to make it easier.
– Bottom line: Safe way to make you more badASS.
– Mike Baltren