Do you want to build lean and strong legs? How about an exercise that can help you run faster, jump higher, and kick farther? Do you workout from home and need a leg movement that can be done with just your bodyweight, dumbbell, or kettlebell? If so, this article is for you. In it you will learn how to perform the split squat, one of the best exercises there is for building your legs.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
I try to always include a variation of the split squat in my workouts. Doing them has not only helped my legs get stronger but improved my performance when I’m playing soccer and doing hill sprints. My wife loves them too. She often tells me doing workouts that combine split squats and kettlebell throws are the best combination for building strong and shapely legs.
Split squats work all of the muscles in your legs, especially your hamstrings, glutes, and quads. Your abs, calves, and lower back will get a workout when doing them too.
Why Should You Perform Split Squats?
- They can be done with little to no fitness equipment.
- They’re easy to learn and don’t require a spotter like barbell squats.
- Since you perform them one leg at a time, they strengthen each leg equally.
- You can use more weight than when doing lunges so you get results faster.
- Perform better. Split squats are great for improving your ability to jump, kick, and sprint.
- Look better. Few exercises will help you build athletic and lean legs that turn heads.
How To Do Split Squats
- Stand holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in 1 hand.
- Move one foot in front of the other, as if you are about the start walking.
- From this position, lower yourself by bending your forward leg.
- Continue to lower your body toward the ground until the thigh of your front leg is parallel to the ground. Your rear leg should be extended throughout the exercise and heel will come off the ground.
- Return to the starting position by pushing up off your front foot.
- Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions and then switch legs.
This video shows proper split squat technique.
Advanced Versions Of The Split Squat
Once you have mastered the regular version of this exercise you can move onto more difficult variations. Two that I like are the overhead split squat and split squat to shoulder press combo.
Both of these exercises can be considered total body exercises. These variations will help you build not only your legs but the muscles of your core, shoulders, arms and upper back.
Since they’re more demanding than the traditional split squat, you’ll most likely have to use less weight when you first add them to your workouts.
The videos below show you how to perform each exercise.
Overhead Split Squat
Split Squat To Shoulder Press
How Often Should You Perform Split Squats?
You can do some variation of split squats at every workout. I recommend performing them early in your workout since they are pretty taxing and require a lot of energy and focus to be done properly.
How Many Sets And Reps Should You Do?
Start by doing 3-5 reps on each leg for 2-3 sets. As you get stronger, increase the number of sets and reps until you can perform 5 sets of 5 reps on each leg with proper technique. You can then increase the weight you use or move on to one of the more advanced variations described in this article.
You now know one of the best leg exercises available for building strong and shapely legs. Give split squats a try and see for yourself why they are the leg exercise of choice for myself and elite strength coaches and professional athletes around the world.
If you’re looking for a complete workout program that uses split squats I recommend the Fat Hackers training program. It’s the workout I used to lose 70 lbs. and keep it off for more than a year.