Split Squat: Top 5 Tips
The split squat (static lunge) is an awesome exercise to add to your training program! Including single leg exercises is crucial especially from an athletic point of view, when you run you are always on one leg. Training unilateral is also a great way to get some extra strength and hypertrophy gains. There are a many variations that stem from this basic movement pattern and it can be performed with a variety of pieces of equipment.
Purpose of the movement:
The split squat is used to build strength and stability through one leg - essential in a sporting environment. Great for developing proprioception (balance/stability) through the hip/knee/ankle. Depending on how you utilise the exercise it can be used as a primary lift or just added into your normal workout as an accessory lift. With the many slight variations of the movement it can be performed in all planes (sagital, transverse and frontal). The movement can also be also be used as a part of an exercise screening protocol - which can help identify athlete weaknesses.
The split squat movement requires a large number of muscles firing together. The major muscles that are involved during the split squat are:
- Gluteus Max/Med/Min
- Adductor Magnus
Obviously other muscles play a role but these listed above are the key movers.
There are also lots of tiny muscles around the knee and ankle that are helping with proprioception and stopping you from falling over.
Because of the many variations to the split squat it can be performed with multiple pieces of equipment. The key things that you can utilise to perform the split squat:
- Weight plate collar
- Med ball
- Kettle bell
Step by Step guide:
This guide will go through how to perform the standard neutral stance split squat using dumbbells
- Standing in a split/staggered stance, holding the dumbbells by your side
- Descend by flexing at the knee and hip
- Keeping knee travelling over the foot - don't let knee drop in
- Control down until the front knee reaches 90 degrees.
- From the bottom drive through the front foot and return to the position.
- Complete all of your reps on one leg before swapping over.
Some of the variations of the split squat:
- rear foot elevated
- front foot elevated
- alternating plyometric split squat
Top 5 Tips:
- Start with a good stance - about shoulder width
- Start with just your body weight
- Do not let your knee drop/rotate inwards
- Drive up quick through your front heel
- Play around with the different variations to slightly change the stimulus
A must have exercise for those that are involved in a sporting environment! When first using the split squat start with the neutral stance, once you have mastered that then progress through the other variations, slowly increasing the difficulty through the stance and also through the load. Looking for some extra hypertrophy, complete split squats in the same session as your main squat lift! and by adding the split squat to you program will also help the strength of your other key lower body lifts.