There are so many compound exercises out there that can help you build and strengthen muscle. These exercises target several major muscle groups in one movement rather than performing different exercises over the course of your workout routine.
Compound movements provide your muscles with the foundations to increase their size. But, they can also help boost your recovery time after a workout and, of course, the overall results.
When we consider compound leg exercises, the squat tends to be the most popular and most famous. It’s hard to argue with an exercise that simultaneously works your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings in just a single movement.
That being said, there are other highly effective leg compound exercises for you to try. One of these is the split squat.
Split squats work in a similar way to a regular squat. You work the same leg muscles as a standard squat but rather than bending down with two legs, you use what is known as a ‘single-leg foundation.’
This means you put a lot more tension on your abdominal muscles and boost your overall functional strength tenfold.
If you want to add to your squat workout routine, you’re in the right place. In today’s blog, we will guide you through how to perform split squats so you can build the strongest leg muscles you have ever had.
What is a Split Squat?
A split squat is a compound exercise that simultaneously works multiple muscle groups in your lower body. This includes your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and your hip flexors.
As with any exercise, you must perform split squats with proper form. When this is achieved, split squats can improve your overall flexibility and enhance your leg strength.
When performing split squats, you need to place one of your legs in front of the other. Then, you gradually and carefully lower your body. This range of motion is a fantastic way to start working on your lower body’s strength.
And, if you are a bit tired of the traditional squat, this is a great stepping stone to other more complicated variations of the conventional squat such as back squats using a deadlift.
How to Perform Perfect Split Squats
Knowing how to complete an exercise movement is the most important factor of all. If you dive straight in with little knowledge of the correct posture, you could end up injuring yourself.
As well as this, performing the right number of sets and reps is also important. We recommend aiming for 2 to 3 sets with 8 to 12 repetitions for each leg. When completing these movements, focus on your technique so you can maintain the correct posture throughout each set and repetition.
Here’s how to perform split squats:
- Begin by standing in a split stance (hence the name). Your front heel should be 2 to 4 feet in front of your back foot.
- Now, raise your back heel and place an even amount of weight along your toes. Your front foot’s weight should be distributed evenly along the entirety of your foot.
- Grip the floor quite firmly with your front foot. This is so you can create a stable and secure foot position for the squat.
- Now, square your hips. Remember, posture is everything in squats! You do not want to hurt your back! Here, your posture should be tall. Your torso should be upright and your feet shoulder-width apart. Slightly bend your knees with your shoulders positioned over your hips. Your shoulders can also be positioned a little ahead of your hips but your head and neck should be in a neutral position. Your chin should be tucked into you throughout the entire movement. This may feel a little weird at first but just imagine you are holding an egg under your chin. If you lift it, the egg drops. We do not recommend using a real egg though!
- Now, place your hands on your hips. If you are using dumbbells, hold these to your sides.
- Engage your core. Do this by inhaling deeply, filling your belly with air. When full of air, clench your abdominal muscles and, using these muscles, pull your belly button upward and inward against your breath. Continue breathing in and filling your chest with air.
- It’s time to start the split squat movement. Start the downward movement by simply bending your hip, knee, and ankle of your front leg. Allow your back knee to bend gradually toward the ground.
- Keep lowering until your front leg becomes parallel to the ground. Ensure that your back knee is underneath your rear hip. Ideally, this should be approximately 1 to 2 inches above the floor.
- Once you reach the bottom of the movement, pause for 1 to 2 seconds.
- Now, you need to gradually make an upward movement. To do this, push your front foot into the ground to start standing up.
- As you begin to stand, maintain a high chest and squeeze your front glute. Let your front knee straighten slowly while your hip travels forward.
- As you complete the movement, squeeze your quads but maintain a neutral spine. Your knee should remain slightly bent as well.
- When you reach the end of each repetition, you should check where your shoulders are positioned. They should finish directly above your hips. The best way to ensure this is to imagine that your pelvis is full of water. Try your best not to spill any water from its font, back, or sides. This should keep you pretty balanced and in the correct position for the movement.
- And, that’s it! That is how to perform split squats successfully. Before you begin any exercise program, consult your physician. This is especially important if you have any pre-existing health conditions. And, as always, ensure you perform the exercise with proper technique to stay as safe as possible.
Split squats are a great exercise to build strength and muscle in your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip flexors. Furthermore, this single-leg movement puts more tension on your abdominal muscles meaning you can also strengthen and tone your core.
To see continued progress and build body strength, you will need to include proper warm-ups and rest between sets and workout days. Also, nutrition is fundamentally important to getting fitter and healthier, whatever exercise program you are completing.
We recommend resting for 24 to 48 hours before you train the same muscle groups again for sufficient recovery.
Enjoy your split squats and, most importantly, enjoy the results!