Barbell Split-Squat 101: A How-To Guide

Learn how to perform the Barbell Split-Squat through pictures and videos in this how-to guide from STACK.

The Barbell Split-Squat is an advanced 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 Barbell Split-Squat and adapt it to meet your particular training needs.



Barbell Split-Squat How-To

  • Assume staggered stance with bar on back
  • 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

Barbell Split-Squat Exercise

Getting Started

Beginners should focus on perfecting form and technique before adding resistance. Perform Bodyweight Split-Squats or use a broomstick in place of a barbell. Once technique has been mastered, adjust to performing Dumbbell Split-Squats with weight.

Advanced Barbell Split-Squats

Advanced athletes can increase the challenge by placing their front foot on an Airex pad or elevating their rear foot to improve stability and balance. Also, focus on explosively driving up out of the Split-Squat to increase power or holding the lunge for three to five seconds to increase strength.

Common Barbell 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 the 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 on the bar for subsequent sets. This could result from tight hip flexors and quads. To address this issue, perform a proper dynamic warm-up and consistently stretch these muscles post-workout.
  4. Bar Tilts During Lunge: Reduce the weight on the bar for subsequent sets. Focus your eyes on a single point on the wall to help maintain balance. Also, perform exercises that target the core to help you control the bar.

Barbell Split-Squat Exercise Variations

Learn how to Squat and find a full list of Squat variations in Squat 101: A How-To Guide.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock