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Hit Your Legs and Core With a Challenging and FUN Exercise... Switch Leg Split Squats

 

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Leg training...if you only know a couple of exercises for legs, it can be extremely boring...squat this, lunge that, leg press over...what else is left?

TONS! If you want to hit the quads, glutes and hamstrings thoroughly, you need to learn as many variations of these exercises as possible to keep things interesting and to keep your body from getting used to any one form of leg training.

And that's where unique challenges like THIS leg exercise come into play.

This is a variation of the Barbell Split Squat that has an interesting twist...on each rep, you're going to switch legs...not at the top (which is WAY too normal) but at the BOTTOM of each rep.

Basically, you're going to do a Barbell Step-Back Lunge then at the bottom of that rep, you're going to bring your front leg down and kneel on BOTH knees at the bottom, then bring your OTHER leg forward and come back up.

It's deceptively simple and it present a great challenge to your body in a number of ways.

First, when you switch legs at the bottom, you have to maintainbalance with a loaded barbell on your back. This means plenty of core involvement.

Second, once you've switched legs and brought your other leg forward, you will be starting from the bottom absolutely ZERO elastic tension in the muscles. It's going to be ALL YOU coming up from that position. This helps build power out of the bottom of the lunge/squat exercise and it'll show up on your regular lifts.

Third, it's actually kind of fun because it requires a bit of skill to do. You're still working VERY hard (trust me on this) while presenting your body and your mind with something to keep it adapting and keep things fresh.

The first time you do this one, start with just the bar. I don't care how much you can squat, you need to learn the mechanics of the exercise before you load the bar at all (even I did this and I'm a bit nuts :)

I've got the bar loaded with 185 lbs in the demo here.

Set the bar on your back as you would for a barbell squat or lunge then step back into the rack.

Hit Your Legs and Core With a Challenging and FUN Exercise... Switch Leg Split Squats

Now set your left foot back a few feet then come down into a Step-Back Lunge. Come ALL the way down until your weight is resting fully on that bottom knee.

One thing to note here is that you don't want to come crashing down into the bottom position on this one...lower yourself under control until you're kneeling on the ground. We aren't doing a knee drop here!

Hit Your Legs and Core With a Challenging and FUN Exercise... Switch Leg Split Squats

Now here's where your core comes into play...bring your right leg back so that you're now kneeling on BOTH knees. The weight is now balanced primarily with your core.

Hit Your Legs and Core With a Challenging and FUN Exercise... Switch Leg Split Squats

Next, bring your left leg forward so you're now in the bottom of the split squat position again. When you're about to start the push up, here are a few things to think about.

1. As the weight gets a bit heavier, you'll need to lean your torso forward a bit to get the weight over the center of power of the exercise, which is the front leg. This puts a GREAT load on the hamstrings and the glutes.

2. Your back foot is important here...don't just be resting on the tip of your shoe. When you're about to push up, you should try and have the balls of your feet in contact with the ground so you can exert force with the back leg. Without that back leg tensed, you won't be able to get heavier weights up. It's not so critical with lighter weights...you'll feel the need for it as you go heavier.

Hit Your Legs and Core With a Challenging and FUN Exercise... Switch Leg Split Squats

Once you're ready to go, with a powerful explosion of strength, come back up to the fully standing position. Be careful with your balance on this phase of the movement. You should be familiar with barbell lunging before you try this exercise, just fyi.

Hit Your Legs and Core With a Challenging and FUN Exercise... Switch Leg Split Squats

So now you're at the top and you have two choices...you can repeat the movement in the same sequence (set the left leg back and down then switch at the bottom and come back up with the left leg forward) or you can switch legs (set the right leg back first, then come back up on the right).

Whichever way you want to do it is totally fine. When you keep to the same pattern, you won't have to think as much as if you switch direction more frequently, which can be a bonus :).

Here's what it looks like from the other direction.

Step back with the right.

Hit Your Legs and Core With a Challenging and FUN Exercise... Switch Leg Split Squats

Bring the left around and kneel on both knees.

Hit Your Legs and Core With a Challenging and FUN Exercise... Switch Leg Split Squats

Bring your right leg forward and get into position.

Hit Your Legs and Core With a Challenging and FUN Exercise... Switch Leg Split Squats

Push yourself back up.

Hit Your Legs and Core With a Challenging and FUN Exercise... Switch Leg Split Squats

That's the exercise! It's actually a pretty simple concept and VERY effective lower body training, especially for athletics.

This is going to target just about every aspect of the lower body in one shot and give your core some excellent stabilty work at the same time.

 


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