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Split Squat: Everything You Need To Know

Split Squat

There are many different exercises you can do to build strength and stability. But when it comes to finding an exercise that provides maximum benefit for minimum time, it’s hard to beat a split squat. Let’s break down the exercise step by step, revealing what to focus on and avoid.

What Is A Split Squat

A split squat is one of the most valuable exercises for the legs. This essential exercise is present in the training programs of women and men, regardless of the goals pursued. With its help, you can form volumetric quadriceps tighten your hips and buttocks. It improves mobility and leg strength. One more pleasant bonus – it’s easy to do.  

Split squats are commonly mistaken for lunges. Lunges and split squats are fundamentally different because of the location of the feet. The feet will be moving while making a lunge. You might walk repetitively or alternate between stepping forward, backward, and to the sides. Squatting down, your feet will stay in one fixed posture.

A split squat allows you to purposefully train the muscles of each leg separately, as well as to improve the sense of balance. However, these benefits are only available if the exercise is performed correctly. Proper performance is also promoted by knowing which muscles work during training. Read on to find helpful tips and ensure you are doing the exercise correctly. 

What Muscles Does Split Squat Work

Systematic exercising strengthens muscles, joints, tendons noticeably improves posture and coordination of movements. Here is the list of key muscle groups involved in the split squat. 


When it goes for the split posture, the glutes are in charge of hip extension and pelvic stability. Athletes may adjust the depth of the squat to control physical strain level. The lower the pelvis goes down during a squat, the more intense the gluteus muscles work.


A split squat is one of the most effective strength exercises for drawing the middle and lower quadriceps. In other words, it works best for revealing relief of the legs muscles. To increase the amount of knee flexion, professionals bring feet closer together. Though, we don’t recommend this tip for newbies.


The hamstrings provide stability, balance, and strength when the split lowers. Strengthening and enlarging your hamstrings may help you run and leap better.

The exercise is multitasking, involving many large and small muscles. Almost all muscles of the lower body are involved in the exercise. Different movement variants shift the tension on other muscle groups.

How to Perform A Split Squat

An easy way to find your positioning is to create a 90-degree angle with a front leg, knee, and back. This position is a good starting point. 

What’s next? Bend your knees. Grip the floor with the front foot maintaining an arch. Keep a high arch, maintaining a foot positioning. Then take a deep breath and come up. It’s needed to put 80-90 percent of your weight in the front leg. Repeat the same up and down movement as many times as you wish. If you are not strong enough to get up from the floor, use your hands to push yourself up, stand up, and go down. The split squat can be a big challenge for your coordination, so you need some practice to keep the balance. You can hold on to a wall or a chair for a while.

The crucial things to remember while exercising are: 

  • don’t come in close to where you are pushing up and don’t lean up back; 
  • don’t let your front knee go over your toe;
  • make sure you don’t put your back foot forward or your front foot back; 
  • don’t replace your spot; maintain a neutral posture and high arch, placing tension on the front leg. 

Why is it so important? The wrong position can result in knee pain and won’t bring you results you count on. 

If you feel tension only in the front hip surface and the calf muscle, it points to the wrong center of gravity. How to fix the mistake? Put your feet on the width of your thighs take a wide step back. The foot at the back should be at the toe. Keep the heel high. Bend the leg behind by lowering the knee to the floor. In the process, the hip should be perpendicular to the floor. Push the body with the heel of the foot in front of you.

Take careful note of the following instructions.

  • The knee in front of the foot doesn’t come out of the toe.
  • In the upper amplitude, it is allowed to leave the knee slightly bent.
  • The back must maintain its natural tilt. Too straight back can make the knee go forward, and you will put too much pressure on the knee joint.
  • It’s important not to lie on your hip and not bend backward.

This technique will help you properly load the muscles without harming the joints and back. Many people have a tendency to arch the back and shift their body forward through the movement rather than moving straight downwards as you bend both knees. Being stricter through the movement will feel like you are limiting the range of motion, but the form has to be the primary focus – range will come with practice over time. Performing split squats in front of a mirror can help you work on controlling the technique. 

Benefits of A Split Squat

The main advantage of a split squat is versatility. The exercise is suitable for men and women, regardless of training goals. Split squats have the power to burn the subcutaneous fat and create beautiful muscle relief.

The split squat is suitable for:

  • any fitness level;
  • balancing asymmetries;
  • targeting specific muscle groups;
  • improving balance and coordination.

With some regular practice, the split squat will help you improve stride length by getting you to work more effectively from the hips, improving what some coaches refer to as “side angle.” The split squat trains many muscle groups at once, rather than an isolation exercise. 

In addition, the split squat improves blood flow in the pelvic area, promoting the acceleration of metabolism and development of endurance. Most leg exercises lead to back tension, but split squat usually does not give axial load to the spine and ensure its rest and recovery.

5 Split Squat Alternatives

What are some split squat variations you can perform? 

Split Squat On A Platform

To increase the load on the muscles of the quadriceps and buttocks, you need a platform. Put a supporting leg on the step and the second leg – on the floor. The technique of the exercise remains the same. Though the amplitude changes, you complicate the task and make the training more intensive.

Bulgarian Split Squat

The exercise was spread in the United States and later worldwide thanks to Bulgarian weightlifting coach. Put the leg at the back on the bench and bent it in the knee. Do the exercise the usual way. What gives this leg position? The tension shifts maximally on one foot, making it easier to maintain balance.

Bodyweight Glute Bridges

If you want to work out your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, this exercise is what you need. Start by laying down on the floor and bending your knees so your shins are about perpendicular to the ground. Squeeze your glutes until your hips are fully extended. Return to the original position.

Cossack Squat

Cossack squats are a unilateral leg exercise that is also great for building your leg strength and stability. This exercise works your quads, glutes, and core muscles. Cossack squats can be a great alternative to split squats if you want to make your training routine more diverse.

Split Squat With Dumbbells

All the exercises described above can be performed with dumbbells. The extra weight will allow better pumping of the leg muscles and buttocks. It is worth clarifying that extra-weight activities are not suitable for beginners. This is an advanced level for those who seriously engage in sports. Women can start with a pair of dumbbells of 2-3 kg. As for the men, the starting point is a pair of dumbbells of 5-6 kg. Gradually increase the dumbbells’ weight as your fitness progresses.


What is a split squat good for?

In addition to working your hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles, the split squat is an excellent workout for strengthening your lower body. Also, split squats may improve leg flexibility if done correctly.

Is a split squat the same as a lunge?

Lunges and split squats seem pretty similar to many people. Both the leg posture and the technique are almost identical. In a lunge, you either step forward, backward, or sideways; in a split squat, your feet do not move. This is the essential distinction.

What muscles does the split squat work with?

Leg muscles, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, benefit. To keep your balance, your core is also put to the test in a split squat exercise.


The split squat is the perfect exercise for those who want a tightened body and do not spend much effort and time on training. The technique is simple and accessible to everyone. Split squats hit everything well, build up and strengthen each leg individually. Strengthening buttocks, thighs, flexibility, balance, and coordination are all within the scope of this exercise.