Barbell split squat exercise

Barbell split squat

Exercise details

  • Target muscles: Lunge
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Push

Main muscles activated

Muscles activated by barbell split squat exercise


Starting position

  1. Stand with a barbell on the back of your shoulders, grasping it at the sides with both hands.
  2. Step one foot back as if performing a rear lunge. The distance between your front and back feet (step length) should be such that when you lower your back knee, you are in a half-kneeling position.


  1. Keeping your torso upright, inhale as you lower your back knee almost to the ground by flexing your front hip and both knees.
  2. Exhale as you return to the standing position by extending your front hip and both knees.
  3. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.
  4. Do not forget to perform the exercise with the other leg in front.

Comments and tips

  • The barbell split squat is a great exercise for building unilateral leg strength, balance and coordination.
  • For the safety of your knees, keep your feet and knees pointed in the same direction.
  • Drive through your front heel when coming up from the squat.
  • Perform the exercise in a slow and controlled manner. As you return to the starting position, do not ‘pop up’ and lock out your knees, as this may lead to injury.
  • Depending on your step length, either your gluteus maximus or quadriceps will be emphasized. If your step length is small, then your quadriceps will be emphasized. On the other hand, if your step length is large, then your gluteus maximus will be emphasized.
  • See also the barbell-between-legs split squat and the barbell Bulgarian split squat.
  • You can also use dumbbells or opt not to use any weights in the Bulgarian split squat.

Barbell split squat video


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