Split squats are a great exercise that train the entire lower body musculature.
Benefits of Split Squats
Split squats are a fundamental movement that every trainee should learn. They lay the groundwork so you can master a regular two-legged bilateral squat. Split squats are great for overcoming common muscle imbalances between the right and left sides of the body. They also promote flexibility in the ankle and hip joints.
How To Perform Split Squats
Some coaches say split squats and lunges should be performed so that you drop straight down. Others recommend a more angular motion in which you glide forward and down, allowing the knee to come forward over the toe. Which is correct?
Move forward and down like an escalator, not straight down like an elevator.
The split squat was popularized by Charles Poliquin to strengthen the muscles around the knee and hip. It is performed by moving the hips forward and down so that the back of the thigh of the front leg can make contact with the calves. This technique ensures maximum muscle development and also prevents the tendons from shortening, which may increase the risk of injury.
Working the weaker leg first, here is how to perform the split squat with dumbbells:
Starting Position Setup
- Grasp the dumbbells, holding them at your sides.
- Keep your chin up slightly.
- Focus your eyes on the opposite wall at a point that’s slightly higher than your eyes to maintain proper neck alignment.
- Position your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Take a big step directly forward with your nondominant leg to reach the initial starting position. You will switch legs after you complete all the reps for the set.
- Move your front knee directly forward, maximally before lowering your hips.
- Lower the hips, keeping your back as erect as possible and your chest up.
- Lower your body under control until your hamstrings come in contact with your calves (or as low as possible).
- Inhale through your mouth throughout the descent.
- First, raise the hips. Then shift back to the start.
- Keep your torso as perpendicular to the floor as possible throughout the ascent, particularly at the sticking point.
- Exhale throughout the ascent.