- Main muscles worked: Glutes, front of thigh (quadriceps), hips (adductors)
- Other muscles: Back of thighs (hamstrings), calves
- Exercise type: Compound, Push
- Equipment: None
Split squats are a harder variation of the regular squat. This exercise works the lower body, and also improves core strength, balance, and coordination.
Unlike most lower body moves, split squats are a unilateral exercise, which means that you work each leg separately. This helps to find and fix muscle imbalances and also develops single leg strength, which in turn can improve athletic performance and make everyday activities easier that rely on unilateral leg movements (e.g. taking the stairs, running, or cycling).
Split squats versus lunges. Split squats and lunges look similar, but work the lower body differently. In split squats your feet remain stationary, while lunges involve stepping forward. Split squats are better at building strength; lunges are more effective for improving stability and balance.
Avoid bouncing as you do this exercise, keep your shoulders back, and do not allow your front knee to travel further forward than your foot.
Variations: You can make split squats more challenging by adding weight such as dumbbells.