Tone Your Legs with Split Squats [Video]
Working the legs hard is always very rewarding and also very challenging. No wonder then that gyms are full of massive upper bodies on top of bird legs when it comes to men, and for women it is a case of never slimming legs because 'those Pilates moves just don't seem to work'. There are indeed very few trainees who make the effort to work hard on the lower body and choose intense exercises that really payback in the form of strong, lean and muscular legs. And as usual bodyweight exercises are a great choice when trying to get a great leg workout. Thus in this post I will share you with you how to get a highly effective exercise like the split squat right
The split squats is a unilateral leg move that hits your legs hard one at a time. It also helps in developing your core muscles to some degree due to the unstable nature of the move. Now some people mistakenly refer to split squats as lunges, which they are not. Yes the two are almost similar, but the major difference is that when doing lunges you need to take a step forward and back with each rep, and with split squats you just plant a foot forward and squat up and down without taking any step back or forward during the set.
Benefits of split squats:
- Builds muscle- a great way to add muscularity in the legs while adding strength
- Burns fat- high rep sets are known to help trim those legs fast
- Improved stability and balance- the unilateral nature of the move will help improve your stability and balance plus help with improved sports performance
- No high load on back- for those who cannot do heavy weighted squats due to lower back issues, it might be a good idea to do split squats to work the legs hard
- Take a step forward ensuring that the foot goes straight forward in the same line and does not come in line with the rear foot, i.e if you stood infront of a mirror your rear foot should be visible and not be hidden behind your front foot.
- Your toes should point forward and not sideways
- Raise the heel of the rear leg. It stays elevated throughout the set
- Back straight
- Start by lowering the rear leg down towards the ground in a controlled manner. Initially go down as much as you can comfortably and work your way down to the point where your knees touch the ground lightly
- Stand up while pressing off the heel of the front foot to ensure that you place maximum emphasis on the quads
- Letting the knees come inwards when going down. The knees should come down straight in line with the toes and the thighs (from a front view) should be at 90 degrees to the ground
- Pushing the front knee forward instead of lowering the rear knee. Your aim is to lower the rear knee towards the floor and not push the front knee forward. Your front knee should not go way ahead of the toes when lowering, doing so makes it more like a rocking back and forward kind of movement instead of a squat
- Not keeping a straight back and bending forward. The idea is to lower the legs and not bend forward. If your flexibility is not great then work your way down slowly over a period of time, but do ensure that your back stays straight all throughout the set
- Pushing up off the toes not the heel. You need to get up pressing on the heels of the front foot and not the toes. To check if you are making this mistake see if the heel of the front foot comes off the ground when you raise yourself. If you are pushing off the front toes then your heel will in most likelihood come up
If you do this exercise correctly then you should feel it working the legs and butt and not feel it in the knees. Start with sets of 5-6 reps each side and work your way down to a full range of motion before adding reps. Once you have worked your way upto 15 easy reps you can add some dumbbells, barbell or kettlebells or start doing lunges to increase the resistance.
(Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images)