Split Squat Freepik.com/pressfoto

Have you been thinking about doing a split squat with a barbell across your back?

You’ve probably seen people doing the split squat with dumbbells. This exercise is as much a favorite among women as it is men.

You can also do this with a barbell across your back — either a free barbell or with a tracked barbell device.

Get familiar with this movement by first using dumbbells.


Having the back leg elevated is fine. Once you’re comfortable with the dumbbell version, you’re ready for a barbell.

However, start with a light barbell, even if you’re using a track machine (“Smith” machine). A light barbell will expedite your ability to refine your form early on.

As to how far apart your feet should be, in terms of one behind you and one ahead of you, this boils down to personal preference.

However, there IS a such thing as the back foot being too close to the forefoot, which would put more stress on the knee joint.

A good rule of thumb is that the back foot should be far enough behind you so that your leg is actually extended behind you (hip extension), yet at the same time, you can feel the quads, butt and hamstrings working.

Another point of consideration is your back position. It should be upright, with an arch in the lower part.

Your back should not be rounded or hunched. This is easier to prevent with a tracked barbell.

If you can’t help but lean forward when using a free barbell, then see what happens when you use a lighter barbell.

You may have to adjust foot position to find a way to prevent leaning forward. Keep in mind that the more your back leg is extended behind you, the more difficult it may be to keep an upright back.

Taking yoga classes will help immensely with loosening up a stiff lower back.

Sets and Reps

Aim for eight to 12 repetitions each side for three to five sets to get in a good lower body workout.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Freepik.com/pressfoto