START: Stand on a bench set next to a stationary object you can hold onto. Grasp a dumbbell in your free hand, step to the side of the bench so one leg is in the air (with no bench beneath it, as shown). MOVE: As in a two-leg squat, keep your head up and back arched as you bend at the knee to lower yourself, movingyour hips backward until your working thigh reaches a point parallel with the floor. From there, drive up through your heel back to a standing position. Move slowly and deliberately (especially in the deep position). Your non-exercising leg can be kept either in front of your body, which is better, or behind. To get the hang of the movement, work without the dumbbell for your first few leg workouts.
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The use of dumbbells gives you a much more comprehensive strengthening effect because the workout engages your stabilizer muscles, in addition to the muscle you may be pin-pointing. Without all of the belts and artificial stabilizers of a machine, you also engage your core muscles, which are your body's natural stabilizers.