The Split Squat is a fantastic leg exercise with benefits for everyone, including you! Described as “savage” by many, this exercise has a number of benefits and you will definitely feel the burn! From opening up tight hips and hip flexors, to improving stability and individual leg strength this exercise has you covered.
Whether you are desk bound for work, a runner who trains alongside to minimise injury risk, or simply fancy a new exercise to try in the gym then this is the one for you!
How to split squat?
- Find yourself a box or bench that you can rest a foot on (approximately knee height)
- Get into a forward lunge position with your chest upright, core braced and hips square to your body, with your back foot elevated on the bench
- Lower until your front thigh is near horizontal, keeping your knee in line with your foot (don’t let your front knee travel beyond your toes!), allowing your back knee to drop towards the floor
- Finally, drive up through your front heel back to the starting position, again keeping your movements controlled on the way down and explosive on the way up
- Progression: Start by having your hands by your sides. The next stage is to try hands on the back of your head. When you are proficient at 3×12 (each leg, obviously!) without weight you can add a barbell into the mix and start overloading the movement
What muscles will I be working?
During the split squat you will be targeting predominantly your quad muscle in your front leg as you lower down then power up, but also your glutes, hamstrings and calf muscles (hence the nickname “savage”!)
You can change the focus of this exercise by hopping your standing foot more forwards and you will feel this more in your glutes and hamstrings. Hop the foot back towards the bench and you will have more focus on your quads – make sure your knee doesn’t travel over your toe regardless of this.
Your core will be working overtime to help keep you stable and in a strong position, as well as hip flexibility from where you stretch your hip flexors in the lowering movement. Ankle mobility in your front leg will also be challenged as you hit that depth.
Why choose a split squat over a normal squat?
One of the main benefits of a split squat is that fact that it is a unilateral movement (big word alert!), this simply means you work each leg individually. When both legs work together in exercises such as a squat or leg press you won’t necessarily notice any weaknesses on one side as your stronger leg will just compensate. Working each leg individually will ensure each one is working to its maximum without any assistance from the other side.
If you are someone who struggles with normal squats due to lower back weakness then this would be a fantastic replacement as it is a very similar movement however puts the emphasis on the legs.
It will also mix up your workout routine so you can try a variation of a squat that will challenge you in different ways – and who doesn’t love that?!
Give these a try to mix up your workout and get some different squat variations in your sessions!