Split Squat 101
Part 1–Set Up and Assisted
At Fenton Fitness, we love the Split Squat. This exercise can be modified for beginners or injured clients, and can be progressed to be one of the most challenging lower body movements you will ever do. We love the Split Squat because it challenges balance, works all the major muscles of the legs, and depending on the variation, it can be a great core exercise as well. We don’t have to use nearly as much weight as a standard bilateral squat which is great for people with lower back or neck issues that don’t tolerate high levels of compressive forces very well. We can progress/regress the Split Squat by adding load, changing the location of the load, adjusting tempo, changing range of motion, or making it dynamic (also known as a lunge).
Set Up: To teach Split Squats, we have clients start in the bottom position as the set up is quite a bit easier from here. Assume a half kneeling position with one knee down and one up. The knee that is down should be directly under the hip or slightly behind it with the toes dug into the ground. The knee that is up should be directly in front of the hip with the ankle under or slightly behind the knee, making a slightly positive (forward) shin angle. From here, simply brace the core and drive through the heel of the front foot to stand up. 70-80% of your weight should be on the front leg and both knees should be just shy of being locked. These same principles will be carried out through all of our variations. Once you are very proficient with them, you may be able to start in the top position and just feel where your feet should be lined up. Watch the video for demonstration of set up and assisted split squats: here.
Assisted: Best for people 50+ who are brand new to exercise, or those coming back from, or working around an injury.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1