Master this move: the split squat

Fight the imbalances of your day-to-day life with this mobilising move. Michael Coggins explains.

People are sitting far too much these days. This has lead to many of us developing tight hip flexors due to inactive glute muscles, resulting in lower back, hip and knee pain and structural imbalances in the body. Sound familiar?

Enter the split squat, not only a great exercise to improve your lower body strength, but can also improve flexibility in those tight hip flexors. Being a unilateral exercise it’s great for correcting discrepancies between both sides of the lower body.

Split squats can be quite challenging for beginners, as you won’t have the strength or flexibility to perform the exercise with a full range of motion. If you’re starting out, elevate your front foot on a box or step. As your flexibility and strength improves you can lower the height of the step and work towards performing the exercise on the floor.

To begin, I recommend starting with just your bodyweight. You can increase the difficulty over time using dumbbells or barbells to load the movement.

How to perform a split squat

  1. If needed, secure a step at the appropriate height for your ability.
  2. Place your hands on your hips or hold onto weights. Stand with one foot on the step and stretch your other foot to the rear, about two foot lengths back from the torso and in line with your hips.
  3. Inhale, then descend, keeping your back leg as straight as possible while pushing your front knee over your toes, slightly tracking outward. A common mistake is to drop your hips straight down rather than travel forward, resulting in less knee flexion and limiting the exercise’s effectiveness.
  4. Keep your front heel down on the step throughout the movement and the back heel off the ground.
  5. At the bottom of the movement, hold the position for 1-2 seconds. Keep your head and spine in a neutral position and your core engaged.
  6. Exhale and push through your front heel to come back to the starting position. Repeat this process for your required reps before switching legs.

Michael Coggins is a personal trainer based out of Fitness First Pennant Hills. He has over 10 years experience in the fitness industry, specialising in strength and body composition, and is very passionate about the wellbeing, achievements and performance of his clients.
Phone: 0424 574 547
Instagram: @mikecoggins