How to Do Barbell Split Squat Properly

While not very commonplace among regular fitness enthusiasts, the barbell split squat is loved by athletes across the love. It is a power exercise that merges benefits you would have reaped from different exercises into one.

People love squats for so many reasons – they are simply the ultimate leg exercise, putting the quads, hamstrings, glutes and every other muscle on its way in order.

It also requires some work, hence, while it is loved by many, it is also hated by many who would rather not break a sweat.

The barbell split squat adds an extra layer to squats, it adds weight to the party and makes things a little bit more challenging and interesting.

You work the muscles you would have worked doing squats but then work the upper body too because the barbell will at some point be lifted and placed behind your neck as you go through the split squat motions.


  • Grip the barbell with an overhand grip, and let it rest on your upper back
  • Take a step forward, such that one foot remains in front of the other, maintaining a distance of between 2-4 feet between the front and back leg.
  • Stand on the balls of the rear foot, this is the position you should start from
  • Bend your front foot as if you were lunging, and stop when your thing is parallel or near parallel with the floor
  • The knees of the back led almost touches the floor
  • Drive your front heel into the floor and resume the standing position
  • That is a complete rep. Do as many reps as you can reasonably fit into a routine.


This exercise works glutes, hamstrings and quads.



When you drop to the lunge position, the rear knee should just hover above the ground, not actually touching it. Keep the knee around1-2 inches above the floor.

To make sure of this, make sure the distance between the rear and front foot is substantial.


If you find that your upper body leans forward during this exercise, best reduce the weight and start light. Master the proper form before you proceed to the heavy weights.

Also, incorporate proper warm-up exercises into your routine before you begin this workout. Add a stretch after the workout too.


The barbell should remain straight during this workout. If it tilts, it means the weight you loaded up is too much for you.

Reduce the weight and keep it light, and also remember that while you might be able to lift the barbell in the initial lift, it gets harder along the way.

Instead of having to stop to reduce the weight mid-workout, use the right weight from the get-go. Train your eyes to a single spot in front of you to help with your balance. Core exercises will also help with controlling the bar.



  1. Start standing with your feet about hip-width apart.
  2. Take one step towards the back, to mimic a reverse lunge. Plant the toes of your back foot firmly into the floor. Your heel should be raised significantly — flex your foot to achieve this position.
  3. The moment you feel sturdy and ready, slowly lower yourself until your knee hovers over the ground. Take care not to move fast or you may hit the floor with your knee. You can train using a mirror so you can have a better idea of when to stop without compromising the full depth. Keep your knee in line with your toes.
  4. Continue until your thigh is parallel to the ground, then drive through the heel of your front foot to press back up.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you finish your set, then switch legs.


  1. Sit on the floor with your upper back leaning against a bench, chair or any such surface. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart.
  2. Use your arms to lift yourself up a bit —  you ought to be pressing your upper back into the bench, supporting yourself slightly with your arms and using your legs to keep your body hovering above the ground. At this point, your hips should be bent and your butt should hover close to the ground. If you wish, bring your hands behind your head to support your neck.
  3. Lift one foot off of the ground and by so doing, transfer your body weight to your supporting leg. Extend your non-supporting leg in front of you so your foot doesn’t drag the ground. This is the starting position.
  4. Drive through the heel of your supporting foot and squeeze your glutes to propel your hips up.
  5. With control, lower your hips back down.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you finish your set, then switch legs.


There are so plenty of leg exercises that you could possibly do, so many that if we listed them we would barely get halfway. The barbell split squat is well-enjoyed by athletes and coaches alike because it has great rewards.

However, this is not an exercise you just walk into. If your mobility and stability are off, it is best that you work on those fires before you even attempt this.’

If the barbell split squat is just not your cup of tea, that is totally okay because trust us, we know just how tough this exercise can be. Fortunately, there are so many other alternatives and variations you could do instead of this.