How To Do A Split Squat Like A Champ

Tone your legs like crazy.


From Women's Health

Sculpting a round booty is awesome, sure, but having the ability to balance on one leg (like, while putting your shoes on) or lunge to grab a wine glass before it falls is pretty cool, too.

Enter: unilateral exercises. Single-leg or single-arm exercises help fix muscle imbalances and build that deep strength that delivers more power for the heavy hitters like deadlifts, squats, and bench presses.

One of the best moves for balancing your lower body: the split squat.

“The main focus of the split squat is to improve the single-leg strength of each leg and develop a foundational movement pattern that serves as the platform for dynamic movements like lunges,” says John Calarco, certified strength and conditioning specialist, owner of Power Health and Performance in Harrison, NY.


How To Do a Split Squat

How to: With your feet underneath your shoulders, step one foot forward as wide as you can while keeping both heels planted on the ground with toes pointed forward. Place your hands on your hips and maintain an upright torso as you bend both your knees, allowing your back heel to come off the ground as you shift your weight down into the heel of the front leg. Lower until your back shin and front thigh are parallel with the ground. Pause, and drive through your front heel to stand back up to the start position.

Reps/sets: Do eight to 15 reps on each leg for three to four sets, paired with an upper body or core exercise to save time and allow you to get the most out of a routine at once. If you’re pairing with an upper body or core move, move from one move to the next without rest in between. If you’re just doing split squats, rest for one to two minutes in between sets.

One quick form tip: Watch your stance, says Calcaro. It’s common to try and go too short or too wide. Practice the move sideways in front of a mirror—your feet need to be far enough apart that your front heel stays planted as you lower, he advises.


Benefits Of The Split Squat

The split squats challenges your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. But unlike other lower body moves, it does so one leg at a time, which helps build a more reliable and balanced foundation.

“The biggest benefit to mastering the split squat is developing single-leg strength that carries over to real life activities and sports, which are mostly performed on one leg,” says Calcaro.


How To Make Split Squats Part Of Your Workout

Try to incorporate the move into your routine two or three times a week, Calcaro says.

“In most cases, you want to pair the split squat with movements that do not fatigue the lower body any further, so that you don't take away from the split squat itself,” Calcaro says. Solid options he recommends: dumbbell bench press, overhead press, dumbbell bench row, seated row, pushup, pullup, or a core exercise like plank, pallof presses, dead bug, bird dog, or cable chops.

The most basic form of the move just requires your bodyweight, but there are a ton of variations to the split squat. The two most common are goblet split squat, where you hold one dumbbell or kettlebell at the chest or two on either side of your body, and lower with the added resistance. And there's rear foot elevated split squat, when you place your back foot up on a bench behind you and lower. This forces more of your weight into the front leg, providing a bigger challenge to your muscles. Whichever you choose, this move is sure to give your legs a boost.
split squat

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