For The Love Of Split Squats: Healthy Active Aging And Getting Up And Down Off The Floor

Here at Reimagym, at the time of writing, we are three-quarters of the way through a training phase that has included multiple variations of the split squat. We’ve done them quickly and we’ve done them slowly. We’ve done them holding no weight, one weight and in some cases, two weights.

Behold! The Split Squat!

And it would be safe to say that the mighty split squat is an exercise that people have some feelings about.

Ok, by and large, the split squat tends not to make it on to many people’s list of favorite exercises

(It might also be fair to say that, for many people, there isn’t much of a favorite exercises list to begin with…but that’s another story).

Split Squats Train An Essential Life Skill: Getting Up And Down Off The Floor

As much as the split squat tends to arouse feelings of antipathy, it does represent one of the better ways to train for/maintain/get better at the ability to get up from the floor. 

On the one hand, it is certainly possible to live your life without ever getting down on the floor…which makes split squats unnecessary. 

On the other hand, however, it is not uncommon for life to present you with various situations where the ability to get up from and down to the floor would come in handy. Perhaps you’d like to sit down next to a dog or a child so that you can pat and/or play with them. Or perhaps you’re gathered with friends and the most convenient place to sit is on the floor. Or maybe you just want to have the ability to get up from the floor with ease.

In that case, this is where split squats come into play.

One Step At A Time: Finding A Starting Point For Training Split Squats

I want to acknowledge that, for a lot of folks, split squats are hard. A big reason for this is that it’s possible for it to be a movement pattern that doesn’t feature prominently in day-to-day life. And sometimes, knee pain can be an issue. We’ll talk more about that in a second.

So let’s find a reasonable starting point for training your split squat.

The Set-Up. Drake-Style: Starting From The Bottom

Let’s talk about setting-up for the split squat.

  • Knee under hip under shoulder under head
  • Slight tuck of your pelvis. Engage your core muscles.
  • Front knee is over shoe laces.
  • Pour your weight into your mid-foot so that you can feel both your heel and your big toe connecting with the floor.

Start Here: Choose The Depth That Works Best For Where You’re At Right Now

It’s worthwhile noting here, at the start of this journey, that strength training is meant to be a journey. You start wherever you’re at, challenge yourself a little and, over time,  your body adapts. As you get stronger, you’ll become able to move through a greater range of motion. And, as you get stronger, you’ll be able to do progressively more challenging variations or you’ll be able to hold progressively more weight. All of this is to say, start where you’re at and we’ll build from there.

In Case of Knee Pain, Try This 

First, we can often resolve some discomfort at the knee by doing a bit of a form-check:

  • Often, split squats call for a shorter stance (front to back) than we might think. Try moving your front foot back a few inches.
  • From there, make sure you’re pressing down through your mid-foot on the front leg.
  • Remember also, the split squat is meant to be an up and down movement and not a forward and back movement.

If you have some pre-existing knee stuff going on, we can try one of two ideas:

  • Spanish Split Squats. I don’t know why this is called a Spanish split squat…but the band acts as a kind of support that prevents/minimizes the kinds of stress that tend to make knees unhappy.

  • Box Step-ups. Sometimes, the best starting point is a lateral move, so to speak. Step-ups train the same joint movement pathway on the working leg as a split squat, but with much less knee stress. When doing these, it’s really important to direct the movement upward onto the box or step while keeping the forward-moving part to a minimum. Again, press down through the mid-foot.

Try adding whatever split squat variation works best for you to your current training plan and let us know how it goes!

Want to see what all the fuss is about at Reimagym? Let’s set up a time to chat.