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Spring 2014 Exercise Tip
Split Squats

photo of a woman performing the split squat

An exercise that helps develop single-leg strength, split squats are often introduced when someone is ready to progress from two-leg to single-leg exercises.  Additionally used to improve one’s balance, split squats can be performed with 1 set of 6 repetitions with each leg to begin, progressing to 8, 10, 12, in weeks 2, 3, and 4 of a progressive exercise program, respectively.  After mastering body weight as resistance, external resistance via dumbbells, a barbell, or a weighted vest can be introduced. 

To perform a split squat, begin in a forward lunge position.  Next, concentrate on lowering the back knee toward the ground. 

After the back knee slightly taps the ground (depending upon your ankle and hip mobility), push off the front heel and return to the staring position.  While pushing off the back toes is allowed, do your best to emphasize the front heel doing the majority of the pushing through the ground to return to the starting position.

Finally, have a partner/trainer/strength coach assess your shin angle by looking at you from the side (lateral view) to assure your foot and lower leg form a 90-degree angle.  Ideally, your upper leg (femur bone) and lower leg/shin bone (tibia) should form a 90-degree angle as well.  Lastly, your femur and torso should form a 90-degree angle as well.  So count the three (3) 90-degree angles and you’ve got perfect form.  Good luck!

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