Split Squat

  • Alternative Names: Split leg squat, bodyweight split squat
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Equipment: None
  • Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, glutes, hips
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Average Number of Sets: 3-4 with 5-10 reps per leg
  • Variations: Bulgarian, dumbbell, barbell, front foot elevated, smith machine, lateral, kettlebell split squats
  • Alternative: Forward lunge, one-legged deadlift

The split squat, unlike the common squat, is performed with a staggered stance. It works your glutes, external obliques, and hamstrings more than the other squat versions. The amount of hip and knee muscle involvement depends on the shank angle or the step length you use during split squats.

Split Squat Vs Lunge

  • In the split squat, your rear leg is not engaged, and the focus is mainly shifted on your front leg. The lunge, on the other hand, involves engaging both the legs at the same time.
  • In a split squat, you move either your body or the free weight up and down along the static line created by your legs. Lunges allow you to move the weight either forward or backward.
  • The split version allows you to work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes with more intensity than the lunge, which is less fatiguing to your muscles.


  • Increases lower body mobility and flexibility.
  • Prevents strength and muscular imbalances between your right and left leg.
  • Can be used as a warm-up exercise before progressing into more challenging workouts.

How to do a Split Squat

Start the exercise by standing with a staggered stance so that the heel of your back foot is raised and the front foot is forward. Place your hands either on the hips or keep them in front of your body. Lower into the squat by flexing your hip and knee, maintaining an upright posture all through the movement. Drive through your heel to extend the hip and knee to the initial position.

Split Squat

Split Leg Squat Tips

  • Make sure to adjust your stride length so that it is neither too short nor too long. Short strides can cause you to lift the heel of the front foot at the bottom of the movement while a long stride puts unwanted stress on the back.
  • Start the movement with your back leg instead to put less stress on the front knee.
  • Keep your front knee and the foot in a straight line while performing the exercise.


  1. Bulgarian Split Squat: Performed by keeping your rear foot elevated on a bench.
  2. Dumbbell Split Squat: Involves standing with a split stance while holding a pair of dumbbells.
  3. Barbell Split Squat: Performed by positioning the barbell on the back of your shoulders and holding it securely as you perform the squat.
  4. Front Foot Elevated Split Squat: Requires you to place your front foot on a small block and then perform the squat.
  5. Smith Machine Split Squat: Involves the regular split squat movement while standing with the barbell set at the proper height on the smith machine.
  6. Lateral Split Squat: Performed by standing with a wider-than-shoulder-width stance and then laterally doing the split squat movement.
  7. Kettlebell Split Squat: Performed by holding a pair of kettlebells while doing the standard split squat.

Alternative Exercises

  • Forward Lunge
  • One-legged Deadlift

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