At Steelworks Strength Systems, we love the barbell and all its bilateral (double leg) movements like the back squat, cleans, snatches, etc.  However, training single arm and single leg movements is key for well balanced athletic development.

That’s why we really like the rear foot elevated split squat.  Below you’ll find four reasons why we think this movement is a great addition to any training program.

  1. Super approachable movement for beginners.
    • Only need a bench, dumbbells or kettlebells.
    • Spotter is helpful but not necessary for safety.
  2. Great way to increase training volume without as high of a “training cost.”
    • When this movement is loaded with dumbbells, kettlebells, or even a barbell, it overloads limbs individually but doesn’t stress the nervous system as deeply as a bilateral movement like back squats.
      • Given that bilateral movements can be loaded heavier, a unilateral movement like the rear foot elevated split squat stresses the central nervous system less.
      • This shortens the recovery window needed for harder efforts 24-48 hours later.
  3. Develops knee and hip stability and core and shoulder endurance (when loaded with dumbbells).
    • Given that the knee and hip move through ranges of flexion and extension, this movement strengthens the prime movers of the leg (quads, hamstrings, glute max) but given its setup and pattern, deep stabilizers are improved (hip:  glute medius and glute minimus, “deep six”.  core:  quadratus lumborum, transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus).  Hold some dumbbells or kettlebells in your hands and you’ll get some isometric work in the shoulders and back (upper and middle traps, rotator cuffs, lats)
      • Improved balance and coordination result.
  4. Irons out strength imbalances between legs.
    1. We aren’t born perfectly symmetrical.
      1. Strength imbalances are a natural occurrence of this reality.  However, that doesn’t mean we don’t target them.
      2. Given that each leg is isolated from the other during the movement, you find out really fast if these imbalances exist and have a ready made solution to target this potential limiter to your athletic performance and overall health.

Here’s a quick video on how to set the movement up and perform its pattern.

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