Dragon Squat Guide: Stressed Muscles, Instructions, Benefits and Alternatives - Fitness Volt (2023)

According to an experienced running coach I met, a workout isn't a workout without squats. He was always referring to front or back squats. Still, there are many other equally effective leg exercises you can do, includingleg press,Dumbbell lunges, mihigh steps.

But what if you're a calisthenics fan and only do bodyweight exercises? How do you overload your lower body with such limited resistance?

One way to train your legs with calisthenics is with high repetition training. Sets of 50 to 100 bodyweight squats and lunges will get your quads, glutes, and hamstrings pumping, on fire, and screaming for mercy.

Or one likes to switch to one-sided or one-sided exercisesstocky shrimpmiThe gun. Both exercises require balance and flexibility as well as strength, making them highly functional movements.

But where do you go after mastering pistols? We think we've found the answer!

Take your leg calisthenics workout to the next level with dragon squats. We explain why and how to do this ultra-challenging leg exercise.

Dragon Squat - Muscles worked

The kite squat is a unilateral compound exercise; H. it trains one leg at a time and involves multiple joints and muscles working together. The main muscles you train during the Dragon Squat are:


The quadriceps, or quadriceps for short, are the muscles at the front of the thighs. There are four quadriceps muscles: the rectus femoris, the vastus lateralis, the vastus medialis, and theintermediate residues. The quadriceps work together to straighten the knees, and the rectus femoris is also a hip flexor. Most people find that the dragon crouches on their quads more than any other muscle group.

Knee tendons

The hamstrings are a group of three muscles located on the back of the thighs. There are three hamstrings: the biceps femoris, the semimembranosus, and the semitendinosus. These muscles work together to bend the knees and extend the hips.

gluteus maximus

Ögluteus maximusIt's the largest muscle in the human body, and you're sitting on yours! Known as the gluteus maximus, or simply gluteus, this muscle is primarily responsible for hip extension. However, it also plays a minor role in external rotation and hip abduction.

hip abductors

Hip abductors lift the legs up and away from the midline of the body. During the kite squat, they prevent the supporting knee from falling inward. The hip abductors aregluteus maximus,gluteus medius, and tensor fascia lata, located on the outside of the hips and thighs, respectively.

hip adductors

The hip adductors are located on the inner thighs and pull the legs toward the midline of the body. During the kite squat, they prevent the knees from dropping down. The three adductor muscles are longus, brevis, and magnus, meaning longest, shortest, and largest.

gastrocnemius and soleus

These two muscles make up the calves and are collectively known as the triceps surae. While the dragon squat isn't an obvious calf exercise, you do need to use your lower legs to stabilize your ankles for balance.


Core is the collective term for the muscles that surround youquiteand support your lumbar spine. These include the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominals. You need to use your core to keep your lower back stationary and in good posture as you do each rep of the dragon squat.

How to do a dragon squat

Get the most out of the kite squat while minimizing the risk of injury by following these guidelines:

  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms slightly raised at your sides for balance. Strengthen your core and pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Shift your weight to one leg.
  3. Standing on one leg, crouch and cross the weightless brace behind the supporting leg. Then swing your non-weight bearing leg forward without letting it touch the floor. Keep that leg straight. Move your arms as needed to maintain balance.
  4. Lower yourself as far as you can and hold the squat for 3-5 seconds.
  5. Put your foot on the ground and stand up.
  6. Do another repetition on the same side or switch legs as you like.

Benefits of the Dragon Squat

Not sure if the dragon squat is the right exercise for you? Consider these advantages and then decide!

no equipment required

Because you don't need weightsPower-RackTo do dragon squats, you can do them anywhere, anytime. Dragon squats are a great option if you prefer to train with calisthenics instead of machines.

A very challenging exercise

When you can do hundreds of bodyweight squats and pistols no longer pose much of a challenge, you'll enjoy the challenge of learning and mastering the dragon squat. Doing the same exercises over and over again is a great way to get stuck in a fitness rut, so take your leg exercises to a new and higher level with the dragon squat.

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Good for mobility and balance.

Mobility is your ability to actively move your joints through a wide range of motion, while balance is your ability to keep your center of gravity on your base of support. Dragon Squat requires and develops these two fitness components. Balance and mobility are essential in most sports and decrease with age and disuse.

Because they exist!

Many calisthenics enjoy doing exercises because they are so challenging. For example, push-ups and handstands, front and rear levers, and pistol and kite squats.

They treat these moves almost like gymnastics skills, doing them less for training effect and more because they are there to be mastered. You want to train to perform these movements cleanly and with good style.

There are many easier ways to train your legs. However, if you want to test your skills, balance and mobility, the dragon squat is like Mount Everest of leg gymnastics!


While the kite squat is a useful exercise, there are also some disadvantages to be aware of:

technical difficulty

Make no mistake, the dragon squat is a very challenging exercise. Even a clean repetition can take weeks or months of practice. You need excellent mobility, flexibility, and balance to perform them. If you haven't mastered pistol squats and shrimp squats, don't try dragon squats until you do. Dragon squats are NOT suitable for beginners!

risk of injury

Because of the difficulty of the dragon squat, a lot can go wrong with this exercise. First off, you could lose your balance and fall on your butt! Your knees and hips are also heavily used, and single-leg balance puts more strain on your joints than bilateral or two-legged exercises. This is not a good exercise for people with pre-existing hip or knee injuries.

However, injuries can occur with any exercise, even basic movements like double-legged squats and regular push-ups. That being said, the kite squat is probably riskier than most other leg calisthenics exercises.

7 Dragon Squat Variations and Alternatives

The dragon squat is a very effective leg exercise, but that doesn't mean you have to do it all the time. They might even be too demanding of you right now. The good news is that there are countless variations and alternatives you can use to build your strength and keep your workouts productive and interesting:

1. Pistolenhocke

The pistol squat is a prerequisite for the dragon squat, so if you don't know how to do a pistol squat, start your one-leg squat odyssey here! Pistols are a huge step up from regular two-foot squats. So, just because you can do 100 bodyweight squats, don't expect to start pistols right away.


  1. Stand with feet together, arms at your sides. Shift your weight onto one leg and raise your arms in front of you.
  2. Extend your non-load leg in front of you and squat down until your hamstrings are resting on your calf. Lean forward and stretch your arms forward for balance. Keep your non-weight bearing leg off the floor.
  3. Put your foot on the ground and stand up.
  4. Do another rep on the same leg, or switch sides and repeat.

target muscles:

Primary: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus.

Secondary: abductors, adductors, core.


  • A good training exercise for dragon squats.
  • A great way to overload your legs with just your body weight.
  • Develops a high level of balance and stability.


  • Lower your butt onto a chair or box if you can't lower yourself all the way without losing your balance.
  • Hold a small weight in your hands and extend your arms forward to help balance.
  • You can also perform this exercise with a TRX or sling trainer for assistance, as follows:

Related: How to do the Pistol Squat for Raised Legs

2. Squats with shrimp

The shrimp squat is a little easier to master than the pistol squat. So if you can't do pistol squats, make the shrimp squat your new one-legged exercise. This move builds the strength and balance required for pistol and kite squats, but you don't need the mobility of an elite gymnast to perform it.

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  1. Stand with feet together, arms at your sides. Roll your shoulders down and back and look straight ahead.
  2. Bend one leg and lift your foot up to your buttocks. Grasp the ankle with the same side hand.
  3. Extend your other arm in front of you for balance.
  4. Bend your standing leg and lower it until your back knee lightly touches the floor.
  5. Put your foot on the ground and stand up.
  6. Continue for the required number of repetitions, then switch sides. Try to do the same number of reps on each leg.

target muscles:

  • Primary: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus.
  • Secondary: abductors, adductors, core.


  • More accessible than kite and pistol squats.
  • A great way to build strength and balance even if your mobility is a bit lacking.
  • A very friendly exercise for the lower back.


  • Stand on a high step to increase your range of motion and make this exercise more challenging.
  • Make this exercise more comfortable by lowering your knee onto a foam pad or folded mat. Rest your knee on the pad between reps if needed.
  • Like pistol squats, you can also do shrimp squats with the help of a sling trainer:

3. Awesome lunge

The Knicks sally gets its name because it looks like you're shaking hands with a king! Cute names aside, this is a great exercise to get used to bringing your non-dominant leg back. However, you are allowed to put your foot down, so it's not as strenuous as the dragon squat. You have to start somewhere, right?


  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Hold weights if you like. Strengthen your core and pull your shoulders down and back. View in the future.
  2. Kick back and forth so your foot lifts off your weight-bearing foot.
  3. Bend your legs and lower your back knee to the floor.
  4. Push the back leg to return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other side, then switch legs for the rest of your set.

target muscles:

  • Primary: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus.
  • Secondary: abductors, adductors, core.


  • Easier to learn than Dragon Squat.
  • Scalable by adding more weight or as a bodyweight exercise.
  • An excellent exercise for strengthening the glutes.


  • Perform this exercise with or without weights, depending on your preference.
  • Begin each rep by standing on an elevated platform to increase your range of motion and increase your glutes.
  • Be careful not to twist your hips or knees as this can cause joint pain or injury.

Related: Curtsy lunge exercise guide

4. Lateral drawer lowering

While this exercise doesn't look like a great kite squat, it actually has some important similarities. To begin, raise and lower your body weight primarily with one leg. However, in terms of mobility and balance, it is much easier. This exercise prepares your muscles and joints for the demands of the dragon squat.


  1. Stand on one leg on a high step. Extend your arms in front of you for balance.
  2. Bend your standing leg and lower yourself until your opposite foot lightly touches the floor.
  3. Using the opposite leg as little as possible, lower your landing foot and push yourself back to a standing position.
  4. Repeat for desired number of reps.

target muscles:

  • Primary: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus.
  • Secondary: abductors, adductors, core.


  • This exercise requires a minimum of balance or mobility, making it a good choice for beginners.
  • Start building the single-leg strength needed for more challenging unilateral exercises, including shrimp, pistol, and dragon squats.
  • Easily advance or regress by adjusting how much you use your unsupported leg.


  • Drag your toes over your non-working leg so you can't push off and more work goes to your supporting leg.
  • Hold dumbbells in your hands to make this exercise more challenging.
  • The higher the rung, the more difficult this exercise becomes:
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5. Reverse Lung Deficit

This is another exercise that bears little resemblance to the dragon squat, but still works many of the same muscles. However, unlike most other unilateral leg exercises, you don't put all of your weight on one leg. In fact, you should have 60% of your weight on your front legs and only 40% on your back.


  1. Stand on a four to eight inch box with your feet together.
  2. Take a big backward step, bend your legs and lower your back knee so it is below the level of your front foot.
  3. Push off the back leg and return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat on same side or alternate legs as you prefer.

target muscles:

  • Primary: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus.
  • Secondary: abductors, adductors, core.


  • Very little balance is needed.
  • A very gentle exercise for the knees and lower back.
  • Provides an excellent glute and quadriceps workout.


  • You can also do this exercise with dumbbells or a barbell to make it more difficult.
  • The higher the level, the more difficult this exercise becomes.
  • Rest 2-3 seconds at the end of each repetition for a more intense workout.

6. Smith-Pistolenhocke

The hardest part about pistols, dragoons, and other one-arm squats is balance. Most intermediate and advanced users have the strength to perform these moves, but standing on one leg is a different challenge. Making pistols with a Smith machine is like having training wheels!


  1. Stand on the Smith machine with your feet together and place the bar on your upper back. Hold it with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width.
  2. Strengthen your core and shift your weight to one leg.
  3. Bend your supporting knee and extend your non-weight bearing leg in front of you.
  4. Squat down until your hamstrings touch your calf.
  5. Get up and repeat.

target muscles:

  • Primary: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus.
  • Secondary: abductors, adductors, core.


  • No balancing required - the Smith machine does the balancing for you!
  • A great way to build unilateral strength.
  • A very safe exercise; Just rotate the bar to lock it if you can't complete a rep.


  • Do not put any strain on the bar at first. Instead, just use it for balance instead of overloading it.
  • If you're having trouble doing this exercise without losing your balance, move your supporting leg forward slightly.
  • Place a bench behind you and lower yourself until your butt touches it if full range of motion for reps is too difficult at this point.

7. Bulgarian squat

When it comes to overloading one leg at a time, the Bulgarian squat is hard to beat. The back leg provides some balance and support, but most of the work is done by the front leg. So if you want to start doing more single-leg exercises but are a long way from doing kite, pistol, or shrimp squats, Bulgarian squats are a great place to start.


  1. Stand with your back to a knee-high exercise bench. Bend one leg and place the top of your foot on the bench. Take a split stance.
  2. Bend your legs and lower your back knee an inch off the floor. Lean forward slightly, but don't round your lower back.
  3. Get up and repeat.
  4. Rest a little, switch legs and do the same number of repetitions on the opposite side.

target muscles:

  • Primary: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus.
  • Secondary: abductors, adductors, core.


  • An excellent introduction to single leg training.
  • Good for hip mobility and balance.
  • A very effective exercise for the lower body.


  • You can do this exercise with dumbbells, a barbell, or a weight vest to make it more challenging.
  • Put your front foot on an elevated step to increase your range of motion and the difficulty of this exercise.
  • You can also do this exercise with your back foot on a sling trainer orGymnastics ring, So:

Dragon Squat-FAQ

Have a question about Dragon Squat? It's okay because we have the answers!

1. How many reps of Dragon Squats should I do?

The answer to this question is: how many reps can you do? Because the dragon squat is a bodyweight exercise, you can't change the load to do a specific number of reps. So do whatever it takes to push your muscles close to failure. Over the next few weeks and months, work on doing more reps per set to keep progressing and getting stronger.

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2. Are kite squats good for building muscle?

While the dragon squat has the potential to build muscle, you're more likely to hit technical failure before your muscles are stimulated enough to grow. In other words, you'll probably lose your balance before your muscles get tired enough.

In general, simpler, more stable exercises are better for hypertrophy because they allow you to train to failure without losing technique. The best bodyweight exercises for hypertrophy are regular squats, Bulgarian squats, and lunges.

3. Is Dragon Squat safe?

While you can safely perform dragon squats, your risk of injury depends on your mobility, stability, strength, and joint health. Kite squats are a very technical exercise, so there are a lot of things that can go wrong.

Potential risk areas are knees and hips, which are exposed to a lot of rotational and shearing forces.

That means if you're in good shape and don't have any musculoskeletal issues, you can do the kite squat with very little effort. However, there are definitely safer lower body exercises you can do.

4. Which is Better: Shrimp, Pistol, or Dragon Squat?

In terms of overload, there's not much to separate these exercises since they all involve lifting bodyweight on one leg. However, in terms of technical difficulty, shrimp squats are the easiest, dragon squats are the most difficult, and pistols are somewhere in between.

But does that mean that one exercise is better than the others? Probably not.

The best exercise is what you enjoy, what suits your body type, and what suits your training goal. For some it might be dragon squats, while for others it will be shrimp or pistol squats.

Try them all to find out which one works best for your needs and goals.

5. Should I do unilateral exercises?

You can build a lot of muscle mass and strength with bilateral leg exercises like squats, leg presses, and deadlifts. However, if you're only training for resistance with your bodyweight, leg training can become too easy to build muscle if you're only doing two-legged exercises. That is, unless you like doing high-rep sets. Despite this, simple exercises for muscle growth are not effective.

Unilateral or one-sided exercisesThey allow you to put more weight on your legs without having to use bars, dumbbells, or machines. They also provide a way to detect and correct left-to-right power imbalances.

Finally, unilateral leg exercises are generally more functional than their bilateral counterparts. Many sports and everyday activities are performed with one leg at a time, e.g. B. running, kicking, jumping, etc., and training with both legs may not have much impact on your performance.

So while you do NOT need to incorporate single leg exercises into your workout, there are several compelling reasons why you should.

final considerations

There's no denying that the kite squat is a challenging exercise. However, at least part of this challenge comes from the technical difficulty of the movement rather than from overloading the working muscles. Dragon squats are almost like thatgymnastic movementsince they are a leg workout.

If you want an exercise in building quads, what will you do?the quadruper tom squarejealous, the dragon squat isn't for you. Let's say you want a move that challenges your balance, coordination, mobility, and strength and may require a lot of practice to master. Then the dragon squat might be just what you've been waiting for.

Personally, I like to work my legs a lot without feeling like a gymnast, so I'll be sticking with pistols and crab squats for the foreseeable future.

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