The success of leg strength-training workouts lies in causing trauma. This trauma is muscle breakdown that occurs when you exercise your legs against a heavy resistance. According to Dr. Len Kravitz, muscle fibers respond to the trauma of strength training by attaching to satellite cells to repair damage. This creates a larger muscle fiber size. The pile squat involves a dumbbell to provide resistance and increase the size of your leg muscles.
Your body position in a pile squat is the same as in plie squats, sumo squats or wide-stance barbell squats. The difference between the squats often refers to the piece of resistance equipment used during the exercise. When you perform the pile squat, you hold a single dumbbell. The motion of the dumbbell during the squat resembles that of a pile driver. The plie and sumo squats typically do not use equipment. For a wide-stance barbell squat, you use a barbell for resistance.
Your selection of a dumbbell weight for the pile squat depends on your fitness level. The American Council on Exercise recommends selecting your weight amount for resistance exercises based on a one repetition maximum, or 1RM, percentage -- that is, the heaviest weight you are able to squat with perfect form one time. As a beginner, multiply your 1RM by .60 and use this weight for your pile squat repetitions. As your strength improves, multiply your 1RM by .70 or .80.
To set up for the pile squat, place the dumbbell in a vertical position on the floor, resting on one head of the weight. Align your lower body standing behind the dumbbell. Position your feet slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart. Your toes and knees should face the same direction. To perform the squat, bend your knees, keep your back straight, reach down and grasp the dumbbell with both hands. Keep the dumbbell in a vertical position. Exhale, straighten your legs and stand tall. Inhale, bend your knees -- not beyond a 90-degree angle -- and lower the weight toward the floor. Repeat for your desired number of sets and repetitions. Aim to complete one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
The pile squat strengthens the muscles of your lower body. The main muscles used are your quadriceps, located at the front of your thighs. Your quads contract as you extend your knees and return to a standing position. The secondary muscles used are your hamstrings, calves, glutes and abs.
The pile squat is effective if you can achieve proper form and a complete range of motion. A lack of flexibility in the ankles will affect your form. To correct this, stand with your heels on two small blocks. The floor may limit your range of motion. If you still cannot reach a 90-degree bend in your knees using the blocks, stand with each foot on a separate platform. Aerobic steps work well and allow the dumbbell to go down beyond your feet. Whichever option you choose, plan to add the pile squat into your workout routine one to two days a week. Allow one or two days of rest between your leg workouts. Always check with your doctor before beginning a strength training routine.