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Reader Question: What is the correct technique for the Split Squat?

Monday, December 3, 2018 2:32 PM
 
Q. Some coaches say split squats and lunges should be performed so that you drop straight down whereas 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?
 
A: Short answer: Move forward and down like an escalator, not straight down like an elevator.
 
Much of the confusion about how to perform the split squat comes from the popularity of the Bulgarian lunge, an exercise popularized by Bulgarian strength coach Angel Spassov. The Bulgarian lunge begins from a split position, but with the back foot elevated on a low platform (about four inches). This variation puts greater stress on the quadriceps because there is more weight on the front leg. Also, with this exercise, the hips only move vertically, not forward.
 
The split squat we recommend has you 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.
 
Descent
  • 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.
 
Ascent
  • 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.
 
The split squat is a great exercise for lower body development. Use the technique described here to get the most out of it to help you achieve your goals.

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