Split Squat

Dose

Perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions on each leg, three times per week.

Purpose

This exercise simultaneously stretches and strengthens the hips while challenging trunk control.

Method

Stand about a step away from an elevated surface (around knee height) on one leg, and extend the other leg back so that the top of the foot rests on the surface. Stand up straight so that the shoulders are back and the head, shoulders, and hips are all in a vertical line. Make sure the pelvis is neutral by performing the Drawing In and Standing Pelvic Tilt exercises available in this database. You should feel a stretch in the hip and thigh of the extended leg when you tilt the pelvis by tucking the tailbone under.

Once the pelvis, shoulders, and head are aligned, lower yourself back and down towards the ground, keeping the weight through the heel of the front foot. Make sure your trunk stays perpendicular to the ground, rather than leaning forward, and the front knee stays aligned with the first two toes of the foot, rather than pointing inwards. Keep the pelvis neutral and the back from arching as you lower your hips to the level of the knee. The knee should not be in front of the toes at the bottom of the movement. You should feel a stretch on the thigh of your back leg at this point.

To come back up, drive the floor away with the heel of the front foot while keeping the trunk upright and stable, and the knee pointing in line with the second toe. Try not to push with the back leg. Raise yourself to the starting position and realign the pelvis before lowering into another repetition.

Common Mistakes

• Arching the back. As the load on the body increases, the body will try to recruit the muscles it is most familiar with. In most cases, these will the muscles of the lower back. Make sure to keep the pelvis neutral and the back from arching by Drawing In, especially the bottom position of the exercise, as this is where the highest load will be.

• Leaning forward over the front leg. This will result in over recruitment of the front thigh muscles, and minimise the stretch on the hip and thigh of the back leg. Try to keep the trunk vertical throughout the exercise, with the chest and head upright.

• Twisting at the hips and knees. To maximally engage the hip musculature, make sure the hips, knees, feet are pointing di•rectly ahead, rather than letting the feet and knees point in different directions, or letting the hips twist away from the front leg at any point during the movement. Make sure both hips point directly ahead and form a 90 degree angle with the thigh.

• Bending the front knee too much. If the front knee travels over the foot and toes, this will put weight through the ball of the foot and emphasize the muscles of the thigh, detracting from the exercise’s effect on the hip muscle. Try to keep the knee over the foot or ankle in the bottom position, as this will require more stability in the hip.