Dumbbell Split-Squat 101: A How-To Guide

January 14, 2012

The Dumbbell Split-Squat is a Squat variation you can use to build strength and power in your legs and hips, particularly the quads. One of its advantages over a traditional Squat is that it works the legs individually to build balanced lower-body strength. Through this guide, you’ll learn how to perform the Dumbbell Split-Squat to take your training to the next level. Finally, check out some of STACK's Dumbbell Split-Squat workout videos, featuring elite athletes like Chris Johnson, to learn how to adapt the Dumbbell Split-Squat for your sport.

Dumbbell Split-Squat How-To

  • Assume staggered stance holding dumbbells at sides
  • Bend front knee to lower into lunge until thigh is parallel to ground; keep front knee behind toes
  • Extend hip and knee to drive up to start position; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform set with opposite leg

Dumbbell Split-Squat

Getting Started

Beginners should focus on perfecting form and technique before adding resistance. Perform Bodyweight Split-Squats and Single-Leg Squats to build strength and stability.

Advanced Dumbbell Split-Squats

Advanced athletes can increase the challenge by placing their front foot on an Airex pad, elevating their rear foot to improve stability and balance or performing with a barbell to emphasize strength and trunk stability. Also, explosively drive up out of the Split-Squat to increase power, or hold the lunge for three to five seconds to increase strength.

Common Dumbbell Split-Squat Mistakes and Solutions

  1. Front Knee Travels Beyond Toes: Increase foot separation in the starting stance so your front knee is directly over your ankle and your thigh is parallel to ground in the lunge position.
  2. Rear Knee Touches Ground: Increase foot separation in starting stance so your rear knee is one to two inches above ground in the lunge position.
  3. Torso Tilts Forward: Reduce the weight of the dumbbells for subsequent sets. This could result from tight hip flexors and quads. Perform a proper dynamic warm-up and focus on consistently stretching these muscles post-workout.

Dumbbell Split-Squat Technique Variations

Before performing the Dumbbell Split-Squat, it’s important to master the traditional Squat. Learn how to Squat and find a full list of Squat variations in Squat 101: A How-To Guide.

Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
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