Q. I do a lot of squats and am looking to get even more from them. Are one-legged squats beneficial? How much impact does holding weights have? And does it matter if you have the weights in your hands, on your shoulders, or on your ankles?
A. This is an excellent question because it ties in the two most important factors for developing muscle: progressive overload and planned variation. If you want to increase muscle tone in your glutes—or elsewhere—you have to constantly push your body to grow stronger. Gradually lifting heavier weights is the easiest way to accomplish this. So yes, holding weights during squats will challenge your legs. Placing a weight on your shoulders will help develop core muscles, since your trunk has to work harder at stabilization. The one-legged squats you speak of tie into the second concept of planned variation. If your want to develop a toned and muscular body, not only do you have to challenge yourself to get stronger, you also have to vary the exercises you do—this prevents stagnation and adaptation. I like to change my routine about every six workouts. One-legged squats are an excellent way to do so, as they are a great unilateral exercise that will provide fresh stimulation to your body!