EXERCISE BREAKDOWN: THE CONSTANT TENSION SKATER SQUAT
HOW TO DO IT
START TALL! – on one leg, with your standing leg locked out, actively pushing through the floor, tending through you’re thighs and glutes.
SPARE LEG RESTING ON A MAT – or bench, or table, or child, or whatever else you can find to help you balance.
PULL SPARE LEG BEHIND YOU – first you get the back leg behind you out the way, (with the knee bent), then…
SIT BACK INTO A SQUAT – and lower yourself down.
TAP THE KNEE ON THE FLOOR – or nice soft mat if you’re smart, or simply go as low as you can control if you don’t have suitable mats/cushions.
STAND BACK UP – then you use your leg strength to drive smoothly back up to standing tall…all the way back to lock-out at the knee, extended hip with your foot back on the bench.
EMPHASISE CONTRACTION AT THE TOP – but don’t just be happy to be there, rather: tense your bum and quads hard and show off that top position. You gotta do that every rep! — don’t take a second of relaxation on these please.
REPEAT! – These are best done for high reps. As most people will tell you, these aren’t fun at all, but you probably want to be the person with legs that can do this.
HOW YOU PEOPLE MESS IT UP
YOU LOSE RHYTHM — probably by being too ambitious. Or by just chilling in the middle of it because it’s hard. But you mustn’t! Constant tension, constant rhythm please.
YOU DON’T GET STRAIGHT — Check yourself out at the top of the move, often, that ‘straight’ leg. It ain’t straight. You need to feel BOTH your glute and your quads contracting at the top — the knee has to be locked out, otherwise your not getting as much out of the move as you should be.
YOU CAN’T TAP AND GO — Part skill, part strength. If you can’t do it, keep practicing and shorten the range of motion (higher mat or thing) until you get it right.
YOU LIFT YOUR HEAL — Squat strength is delivered by pushing your heal down through the floor.
The fix: again, don’t go lower than you can control, then work on your ankle mobility if that’s what’s stopping you.
YOU HAVE EXCESSIVE HIP SHIFT — If you’re hip wobbles to the side too much on these, if it looks all over the place, you’ll want to tidy it up. Too much sliding and crazy hips could lead to injury. Make it easier until you have better control.
STRETCH THE BUM. SQUEEZE THE BUM – at the top of the move, you gotta squeeze your bum hard, at the bottom we really want to sit back into the squat. It’s difficult to feel, but work towards feelings the muscle fibres of your glute (and possibly hamstring) stretch on the way down. It will be harder work, but you’ll have better control.
PUMP THE LEG – One if my favourite cues for high-rep work. Focus on the leg ‘pumping up’ — filling with more and more blood with every rep. Every bit of burning you can feel, embrace it, imagine your body filling that leg with more and more blood, fresh oxygen every rep. The more, the better.
FEEL THE THIGH ‘BREAK’ THE SQUAT – as we push you on these, and they get tough, you might end up wanting to just drop and tap the mat with your foot and come straight back up. But we don’t want that. We want ‘constant tension’, (the clue is in the name). So a useful cue is to try to feel the quads ‘kick in’ and slow the squat down just before you hit the mat. If you learn to feel for that, you’ll have more control.
THE MAT IS RED HOT! – You have to touch it, but you wouldn’t really wanna be there for long, would you?!
MOVE AROUND THE KNEE – imagine your knee is flexed, but then fixed in space. Then as you try to ‘work around it’, you might find it helps to encourage the right mechanics.
HANDS FORWARD. KNEE BACK!
More stretch in either direction usually means more control!
JUST GET ON WITH IT!
Sometimes you can dread these. Thought this might help! Don’t build it up in your head. Just get em done!
Unlike some of the other moves, this ones really simple.
Start with a high mat and reps of about 10.
Then build to 15.
As as soon as you can handle it, move lower until you can tap your knee as low as the floor (or to a very thin mat).
Master that, then you can use a platform to increase the range of motion even further (if you can do that, you’re into elite territory on these).
Master that…add weight.
If your joints stop you going too low, then start adding weight earlier. That’s common, particularly for guys.
LEGS LOVE HIGH REP WORK – and people often don’t. So unlike most of the stuff in this programme, we insist that you do 15 reps per leg (as soon as you can handle it anyway).
THEY WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER ATHLETE – balance, strength, control, endurance. It take them all.
TIME UNDER TENSION MATTERS – and with all of our other one-leg squat variations, you get a little bit of rest between reps. Not with these though. With these, we control and adhere to constant tension, delivering a powerful stimulus to all the muscle fibres in your legs.
I put so many single-leg squats in The Strength Sessions Programme because it is unlikely you’ll need alternatives.
Most people can do them. They cause very few injuries relative to other things. They can be done pretty much anywhere and they are easily scaled from very easy to very hard.
But if you really can’t do them, first see if you can replace with bilateral Squats of some description, then consider more Kettlebell Swing / Deadlift work, and if that’s no good, really tough cycling intervals will be your next best bet.