This exercise is probably top 5 in most hated exercises I do with my clients, mostly because it sucks. But if done correctly, is one of the best practices for improving leg strength.
There are a few common mistakes I see with the split squat, and most can be taken care of during the set-up.
I like to teach this the Rear Foot Squat from the bottom up. This helps to eliminate some common errors that occur like:
- Stance is too long or short
- Back toes flexed on the bench or box (if that's what you are using)
- Too much extension of the lumbar spine
- Body falling too far forward
- Pushing off the back leg instead of through front foot.
So to battle these errors, I teach the following:
- Start in a split position with the top of your back foot resting on the bench or box. If toes are flexed, it's easier to slip off during execution.
- The front knee should be rested on a pad or something soft (Airex Pad), with the lower leg vertical to the ground.
- Dumbbells are either at your side or in a goblet position like pictured above.
- To execute the movement, inhale in through the diaphragm and brace your core.
- In one smooth movement push through your whole front foot and elevated yourself from the ground. Exhale through the push off.
- While elevating the body, maintain good posture, not going into flexion or extension of the spine.
- Slowly lower yourself all the way to the pad or slightly above.
- You can either reset from the ground, doing the "ground up" version or touch and go. Remember, tough and go is not slam and go. No matter how soft and or bouncy the pad is, there's no reason to slam your knee into the ground.
Before you do this movement, make sure you can do a body weight, and then dumbbell split squat first.