The split squat is one of the most important exercises in strength training and can be used to help you maximize your gains in muscle strength. It is an exercise that involves lunging forward while holding a barbell or dumbbell on either side of your body.
This exercise targets several muscle groups, including the glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, and upper back muscles. Additionally, it can be a great way to improve your balance and coordination.
When performing the split squat correctly with proper form and technique, you will see an increase in lower body muscular power as well as an improved range of motion.
Understanding how to do split squats properly is important by focusing on your form and stance to ensure maximum benefit from this movement. Once you know how to do the split squat effectively, you'll be able to maximize your gains quickly.
How to Perform Split Squat
- Start by standing with your feet set a few inches wider than hip-width apart.
- Take a deep breath, then shift your weight onto your left leg while simultaneously lifting your right foot and stepping backward behind you, as if you were taking a large step backward.
- Keep the toes of your back foot pointed straight ahead and allow your heel to come off the ground.
- Ensure that the knee of the back leg remains in line with the toes throughout the movement and does not move inwards towards the midline of the body or outwards away from it. You can also hold a Powerlifting Bar on your back or Adjustable Dumbbells Sets in your hands.
- Lower yourself into a lunge position by bending your front leg until it reaches a 90-degree angle at both knees. This ensures that neither knee moves beyond its respective toe line or in towards the other leg during this movement.
- Your chest should remain tall, core engaged and eyes focused forward throughout this process.
- As soon as you reach the bottom position, press through your front heel to return to an upright position
- Repeat on the opposite side by shifting weight onto the right leg and stepping backward with the left foot until both legs have reached 90-degree angles at their respective knees before returning to starting stance, completing one rep of a split squat exercise.
- Depending on fitness level and the number of sets/reps prescribed for split squat exercise, continue the movements listed above for the desired number of repetitions.
Benefits of Performing Split Squats
Performing the Split squat is a great way to add variety and challenge to any workout routine. This exercise focuses on strengthening and developing the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core muscles. It also helps improve balance and stability. When done correctly, the Split squat can help increase overall strength, power, speed, agility, and coordination. Here are some of the many benefits of doing split squats daily.
The split squat is a great exercise for increasing stability and balance throughout the body. It strengthens the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core muscles while also improving coordination and balance. This exercise can prevent injuries by helping to stabilize the lower back and hip joints.
Also, since you're only using one leg at a time, it helps strengthen each leg individually and develop better unilateral strength.
Improved Functional Strength & Mobility
The split squat has been shown to improve functional strength and mobility in athletes of all levels. Targeting the major muscle groups in the lower body with one exercise helps build a solid foundation for more advanced exercises like deadlifts, squats, lunges, etc.
This makes it an ideal exercise for those looking to increase their overall athleticism or just get back into an exercise routine after a long break from physical activity.
Related Article: 10 Essential Hamstring Exercises to Build Muscle and Boost Your Athleticism
Reduced Injury Risk
Performing split squats on a regular basis reduces injury risk due to their ability to strengthen the muscles in your legs that help provide stabilization when you run or jump.
Since you're only working one leg at a time (without having to support your full body weight), this reduces strain on joints as well as ligaments that are vulnerable to overuse injuries when doing compound exercises like squats or lunges with both feet planted firmly on the ground.
Increased Core Strength
While performing split squats, your abs must work extra hard to stabilize your entire body throughout each rep. This leads to increased core strength which can help reduce the risk of low back pain and other common issues associated with weak abdominals/core muscles.
Furthermore, having strong core muscles will make other exercises (like planks) much easier since you have better control over your torso when supporting your own body weight during movement patterns like walking or running, etc.
Related Article: 10 Signs You Have a Weak Core Strength and How to Fix It
Improved Athletic Performance
Split squats not only help you become stronger but can also improve athletic performance due to their ability to target the specific muscles used in various sports activities (running/jumping).
By strengthening these muscles through split squats, athletes can better prepare for competition by providing them with increased power output as well as improved agility when changing direction quickly on the field or court.
Why Has Your Split Squat Progression Hampered & How to Fix It?
The split squat is an important foundational exercise in any strength-training program, but if your progression has been hampered, you may be struggling to make progress.
Let us explore why this might have happened and how you can fix it to ensure you can get the most out of your squats.
An incorrect load position is one of the primary reasons why a split squat progression might be hampered. Incorrect load positioning can lead to poor form and technique and reduced power and strength output. To ensure proper form and technique, the load must be positioned in line with the body's midline.
This will ensure balance and stability throughout the movement, allowing for greater force output. Additionally, avoiding loading too much weight or having an excessive forward lean when performing split squats is important. Overloading or leaning too far forward can lead to poor posture and unnecessary strain on the lower back, hip flexors, and knee joints.
Grip strength is also important when performing split squats correctly and effectively. A strong grip on the barbell or dumbbell will help maintain balance throughout the movement and increase power output by providing additional stability.
If grip strength is lacking, then progressing on split squats might be difficult since it will not be possible to hold onto heavy loads while performing them correctly. To improve grip strength for split squats, consider incorporating exercises into your training routines, such as farmer's carries or gripping barbell holds that simultaneously target both forearm and hand strength.
Position in Workout
The position of a split squat exercise in one's workout routine can also impact its effectiveness. Generally speaking, split squats should typically be performed at the beginning of a workout before any other exercises involving heavier loads are attempted.
This allows for optimal recruitment of muscle fibers throughout all planes of motion during the movement without risking fatigue from other exercises carried out beforehand.
Furthermore, suppose more advanced progressions of split squats for e.g. Bulgarian split squats, are being attempted. In that case, they should also be placed early within one's workout routine since they require greater proprioception and coordination than two-legged versions. This ensures that pre-fatigue will not make them more difficult or increase the risk of injury due to poor form/technique resulting from fatigue.
Techniques to Nail the Split Squat
Learning how to do split squats with proper form and technique can effectively build strength and improve athletic performance.
Focus on Stride Length
When performing the split squat, it is important to maintain a proper stride length. You should be able to take a step forward so that your front foot is slightly behind your hip and the tip of your back foot is slightly offset with the heel of your front foot.
This will ensure that you are in the correct position for proper form and balance.
Be Careful About Body Weight Distribution
When performing the split squat, it is essential to evenly distribute your body weight across both feet in order to maximize stability and reduce the risk of injury. You should make sure that you do not have too much or too little weight on either side, as this can lead to poor posture and an imbalance in form.
Moreover, you should focus on keeping an upright torso and engaging your core muscles throughout the movement to support the optimal weight distribution.
Before beginning any set of split squats, it is important to brace your core by engaging your abs and glutes for added stability.
This will help keep your spine aligned and protect you from any potential injuries due to improper form. Bracing will also help increase power production during each rep and overall strength gains from the exercise.
The number of repetitions used when performing a set of split squats should depend on individual goals such as improving overall strength or muscular endurance. Generally speaking, sets with lower reps (8-10) are best for increasing muscle size while higher reps (12-15) are better suited for increasing muscular endurance.
Drive Through the Midfoot
It's important to drive through your midfoot during a split squat set in order to fully engage all of the muscles involved in this exercise, including those in your lower body, such as quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Doing so will also help improve balance and ensure proper form throughout each rep while also providing an extra push-off from the ground at the end of each movement leading to a full range of motion within each rep compared to just using other parts of their feet, like their heel or toes for driving through instead.
Feel Your Hip
When performing a set of split squats, it is important to concentrate on feeling the tension in your hip during each rep. Keeping tension in this area will ensure proper form while helping you feel where different muscle groups are engaging during this exercise.
This can help prevent common issues such as improper weight distribution or overcompensating with other muscle groups, which could lead to injury if not addressed correctly within each rep itself rather than trying correcting them after time has gone by doing multiple sets incorrectly without noticing anything wrong.
Best Mobility Exercises to Improve Your Split Squat
Achieving a deeper and more balanced split squat requires increased mobility and strength, which can be improved with the right exercises. Here is an overview of the best mobility exercises to help you get the most out of your split squat routine.
The pigeon pose is a yoga pose that helps improve mobility in the hips and thighs. It can help increase flexibility in the hip muscles, which can lead to improved performance in activities like split squats.
- To do the pose, start on all fours on your mat. Bring one leg forward so that the knee is bent at a 90-degree angle, with the shin parallel to the front of your mat.
- Slowly ease yourself down onto your forearms, adjusting as needed so that you feel a comfortable stretch in your hip flexors.
- Make sure to keep your back flat and relaxed; you may need to adjust your positioning slightly until you find a position that works best for you. Hold this position for 30 seconds or more, then switch legs and repeat on the other side.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
The kneeling hip flexor stretch is an effective way to loosen tight hip flexors and improve hip joint mobility.
- Start by kneeling on one knee with both feet touching the ground behind you. Reach one arm up overhead while keeping your hips square towards the floor.
- Begin to push your hips forward until you feel a stretch across the front of your thigh and hip area.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat on the other side.
- Be sure to keep your core engaged during this exercise to ensure proper form and safety throughout the movement.
Cat-cow is another popular yoga pose used to increase spine mobility and flexibility while simultaneously strengthening core muscles.
- Start on hands and knees with a neutral spine position, then slowly begin arching your back like an angry cat while rounding it at the same time (this is known as "cat").
- Then, reverse this motion by simultaneously pushing down into hands and feet while bringing the sternum towards the ceiling (known as "cow").
- Do 10 repetitions of cat-cow breathing deeply throughout each repetition before holding the cow position at the end of the set for 5 breaths or so with a control focus on creating length between each vertebra during the final hold of a cow.
Book opener is an exercise designed to enhance shoulder mobility for improved performance during split squats.
- Lay on your side with your knees even with your hips, your legs bent, and your arms out in front of you straight.
- As you raise your upper arm up to the ceiling and over your body, take a deep breath in. Imagine that you are moving your arm like you are opening a book.
- Follow the path of your outstretched arm with your head and let your spine and chest rotate with the movement.
- Exhale as you let your chest and spine follow your arm all the way over your body until you feel a stretch around your ribs. For some, this is when their arm is flat on the other side of their body, but for others, this is not far enough. Stop when it feels right to you.
- Once you feel the stretch, put your arm on the opposite side of your body. Your spine and chest should have also turned so that your chest is facing the ceiling and your back is flat. You should feel the slight twist, but your hips should stay still the whole time.
- Take a deep breath while you're holding this position, then exhale as you rotate your body back to the starting position.
How to Add Intensity to Your Split Squat
As you advance through your split squat journey, adding intensity boosters can be a terrific way to finish a workout or stimulate growth.
Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat
This exercise is a great way to add intensity and challenge to your split squat. You will need a step or box to place your back foot on to perform the rear-foot elevated split squat, also called the Bulgarian split squat.
- Begin the exercise with one foot securely placed on the step or box and the other out in front, slightly behind you.
- Bend both knees, and slowly lower yourself into a lunge position until your back knee almost touches the ground.
- Pause for at least two seconds before pushing up through your heel to return to the starting position.
- To make this move even more challenging, you may want to add additional weight or resistance, such as dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance loop bands.
Drop sets are an effective way of increasing the intensity of an exercise while also reducing fatigue levels by allowing you to rest between sets. To perform a drop set, begin with heavier weights and do multiple repetitions of that weight until fatigue sets in.
Once you can no longer complete any more reps at that weight, immediately reduce the weight and continue with additional repetitions until fatigue occurs again. This technique can be used on almost any exercise and can help push past plateaus and challenge your body further than before.
Tempo training is another way of adding intensity to an exercise without having to increase weights or resistance bands. To practice tempo training, focus on controlling the speed of each repetition instead of focusing solely on quantity or time under tension.
Depending on which muscles are being targeted, different tempos can be used for maximum effects, such as a slow and controlled negative phase followed by an explosive positive phase; this encourages muscle growth due to increased time under tension during each rep.
1 ½ Reps
This technique is similar to using drop sets but with 1 ½ reps instead of full reps between each set change. Begin by performing a full rep, then follow that with half a rep before resting briefly (about two seconds).
You will then continue with either another full rep or another partial rep depending on what muscle group is being targeted or how much energy you have left in those muscles following previous exercises completed during that session.
Doing 1 ½ reps helps target different types of fibers within each muscle group, increasing muscular development over time; it also allows for shorter rest times between sets, leading to greater muscular endurance and improved cardio health overall.
The split squat is excellent for developing strength, power, and stability in the legs and hips. While it may seem like a simple movement, a few key techniques will help you get the most out of your split squats. Be sure to focus on stride length, weight distribution, and bracing, and be careful not to let your hip drop.
If you can master these techniques, you'll be well on your way to improving your split squat performance. In addition to practicing proper technique, foam rolling and stretching regularly can help improve your mobility and prevent injuries. Give these exercises a try next time you want to improve your split squat form or increase your range of motion.