I like the split stance stuff as much as the next guy.
I consider lunges and split squats to be just as important as squatting to develop the legs, be it for strength, size, or even general conditioning and mobility.
The truth is, it’s hit or miss when it comes to commercial gyms – where I spent the first 4 years of my training career. Some clubs will have better, more specialized equipment available than others, but in most cases, you’ll have to makeshift for specific needs. Take the glute hamstring raise machine, for instance. This wonderful piece of equipment makes life hella easier when compared to its bodyweight counterpart. Unfortunately, box gyms haven’t hopped on the wagon just yet.
In the case of the split squat – more specifically, the Rear Leg Elevated Split Squat – I’ve seen many a client fumbling for the best foot position that will allow the lift to be performed with the least discomfort. I like to cue the movement with the instep of the foot facing down on the bench, to allow for the best depth to be reached. People with ankle restrictions and mobility issues often find that challenging.
My boy Nick Tumminello over at Performance University has a great piece of equipment from Sorinex that allows a lifter to adjust the height of the elevation of the rear foot, and allow for compensation at the ankle joint.
Once again, however, it would be a luxury to find one of these bad boys in a typical gym in town, unless its manager was really on his game. It’s a specific piece of equipment, and the demand for such an apparatus simply isn’t as high as it would be for more plates, dumbbells, bars, or machines. Commercial gyms wouldn’t likely include it in their budget.
With that said, this short article is really centred around the video below. It’s an awfully easy hack to the rear foot elevated split squat that I am too scared to take credit for alone, but at the same time haven’t seen it published or publicized much in person or via articles. So I’ll do my part and spread the word, while thanking whoever came up with it first (probably way back when). Watch me break it down below:
When I thought of bringing this to the fore, I thought it would be quite helpful for many lifters, whether their limitation has been shin tightness ankle immobility, or even their overall height. Here are a few things to know in summary:
- Don’t use the “squish the bug”, toe-down method I demonstrated in the video. That will place plenty of stress in the ligaments of the foot, and lead to problems under heavier loads, and possibly chronic pain outside the gym.
- Using an inclined bench will elevate the height of your rear foot in most cases, which can compromise depth if the front foot is still on the floor. With that said, be sure to counter that added height by adding some elevation to the front foot also.
- Always go for full ROM on a split squat, and use both legs – not just the front leg. The bench can now act as a fulcrum around which the ankle joint and lower leg can pivot, since it’s properly and securely banked in place.
Maybe I’m crazy and everyone knows about this quick fix already. But the fact that I didn’t think about it sooner bothered me enough to write a blog article on it. Hopefully this helps you as much as it helped me and my clients!