One-Arm Gripping Dumbbell Squats


This exercise is a great way to squat while keeping your torso in a very upright position to minimize loading on the glutes and lower back while also reducing knee stress.

When doing squat exercises freestanding, you have to compensate for the position of the weight by basically being less vertical, which puts load onto the back.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be an obstacle for some people, especially if you want to get very FULL range of motion and your hips tend to "tuck under" at the bottom.

This version is a single dumbbell squat using the OTHER hand to grip on a bar. You can use this grip to spot yourself, however it should be used primarily to brace your body, which will allow you to keep your torso more upright while doing DEEP squats.

It's also an excellent "home gym" style of exercise as it gives you the ability to squat without needing a rack (and yes, though I AM using a rack in the demo here, anything solid and at the right height that you can grip onto will work).


I'm using a 125 lb dumbbell and I've got the bar set on the rails of a power rack about 4 feet off the ground. You can see how even at the bottom of the movement, my torso is vertical and I'm sitting back. THAT is what this exercise does for you.

One-Arm Gripping Dumbell Squats...KILLER Full-Range Leg Training

Now just stand up.

One-Arm Gripping Dumbell Squats...KILLER Full-Range Leg Training

One-Arm Gripping Dumbell Squats...KILLER Full-Range Leg Training

Your torso stays vertical the whole time.

I like to do half the reps on one side then immediately switch to the other for balanced effects on the core and legs.

On each rep, don't take tension off the legs but touch one end of the dumbbell down on the ground to make sure you're getting full range of motion. Just keep that tension on.

One-Arm Gripping Dumbell Squats...KILLER Full-Range Leg Training

One-Arm Gripping Dumbell Squats...KILLER Full-Range Leg Training

Regarding deep squats, unless you have knee issues, deep squats are NOT necessarily bad for your knees, as many people worry about. Smith machine squats and leg extensions are MUCH worse for your knees. Ironically enough, this is what most people with knee injuries tend to gravitate towards thinking they're more "stable" exercises when in reality, they put tremendous shearing force on the joint and should be avoided.

Anyway, this is a nice variation to try - it also allows you to really push the reps until your legs are trashed because you can just set the dumbbell down when you're done (rather than having to re-rack a barbell) and you can use your arm to spot yourself.

I've used this exercise for 100 rep training (straight through holding onto a 45 lb dumbbell and switching hands every 10 reps or so) and my quads were the sorest they've been in 10 years (not that soreness is the goal...doing something you've never done before is the goal).


It's a GREAT minimal-equipment squatting exercise that will TRASH your a good way.

I would also recommend Braced Leg Squats for targeting the quads while minimize glute and back involvement.





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