ATG Split Squat: Benefits & How-To

Written by Daniel Mesa
Last Updated On

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The ATG Split Squat is an exercise that has has been widely popularized by the Knees Over Guy for athletic performance and overall knee health. While the ATG Programs and ATG Equipment are great, the truth is that anyone can easily benefit from this exercise with basic equipment.

In this guide, we will go into detail about the benefits and science behind this exercise.

How To Do ATG Split Squat

Starting Position

Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and take a step forward with one foot. The distance between your feet should be about two to three feet, depending on your comfort level.

Form

Keep your torso upright, engage your core muscles, and maintain a straight posture throughout the exercise.

Descent

Slowly lower your back knee toward the ground while keeping your front knee aligned with your toes. Aim to bring your back knee as close to the floor as possible, but avoid excessive knee contact with the ground.

Depth

To achieve the full range of motion, descend until your front thigh is parallel to the ground or below. This deep position, with the glute of the back leg almost touching the ground, is what sets the ATG Split Squat apart.

Ascend

Push through the heel of your front foot to rise back up to the starting position, maintaining control and stability throughout the movement.

Repetitions

Complete the desired number of repetitions on one side before switching to the other leg.

Our Tips

  • Maintain an upright posture throughout the exercise, keeping your chest lifted and shoulders back.
  • Engage your core muscles to enhance stability and balance.
  • Keep your front knee aligned with your toes to prevent excessive stress on the knee joint.
  • Control the movement and avoid bouncing or jerking motions.
  • Perform the exercise in a slow and controlled manner to fully engage the target muscles.

ATG Split Squat Muscles Worked

The ATG Split Squat is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, making it a highly effective movement for overall lower body development. Here are the key muscle groups worked during the ATG Split Squat:

Quadriceps: The quadriceps, located at the front of your thighs, play a primary role in knee extension. During the ATG Split Squat, the quadriceps are heavily engaged as they work to straighten the knee and provide strength and definition to the front of your thighs.

Glutes: The gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, the muscles of the buttocks, are also activated during the ATG Split Squat. These muscles work to stabilize the hips and support the movement, assisting in maintaining proper alignment and generating power during the exercise.

Hamstrings: The hamstrings, located at the back of your thighs, are involved in knee flexion and assist in controlling the descent phase of the ATG Split Squat. They contribute to the overall stability of the movement and provide balance to the quadriceps.

Calves: The calf muscles, including the gastrocnemius and soleus, contribute to stability and support throughout the exercise. They help maintain balance and assist in controlling the movement as you lower and raise your body.

Core: The ATG Split Squat requires core engagement to maintain an upright posture and stabilize your body. Your abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, along with the muscles of the lower back, work to stabilize the spine and provide a solid foundation for the movement.

By targeting these key muscle groups, the ATG Split Squat promotes balanced lower body development and helps improve strength, stability, and overall functional fitness. Incorporating this exercise into your training routine can contribute to a well-rounded lower-body workout.

ATG Split Squat Benefits

The ATG Split Squat is a highly effective exercise that can help you achieve just that. By incorporating this challenging movement into your workout routine, you can experience a wide range of benefits that will enhance your strength, stability, and overall fitness.

Let’s dive into the incredible benefits of the ATG Split Squat:

Enhanced Lower Body Strength

The ATG Split Squat is a highly effective exercise for developing lower body strength. By targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, this exercise provides a challenging resistance training stimulus that promotes muscle growth and strength gains. 

As you perform the movement, the muscles are engaged in a unilateral manner, which helps to address any strength imbalances between the legs and create a well-rounded lower body strength foundation.

Improved Balance and Stability

Balance and stability are essential components of functional fitness. The ATG Split Squat requires a significant degree of balance and stability to maintain proper form throughout the exercise. 

By training in these aspects, you can enhance your proprioception and coordination, leading to improved balance and stability not only during the exercise but also in various daily activities and sports. This increased stability can help reduce the risk of falls and injuries, making it particularly beneficial for older adults and athletes.

Functional Movement Pattern

The ATG Split Squat closely mimics the unilateral movements often encountered in everyday activities and sports. Incorporating this exercise into your training routine can improve your functional fitness and enhance your ability to perform tasks such as climbing stairs, walking on uneven surfaces, or participating in sports requiring unilateral movements like running or jumping.

This exercise targets the muscles responsible for these movements, helping you develop the strength and stability necessary for optimal performance.

Joint Health and Flexibility

The deep range of motion in the ATG Split Squat promotes joint mobility and flexibility. As you lower your body down toward the ground, the hips, knees, and ankles go through a full range of motion, which helps to increase flexibility in these joints. Improved joint flexibility can contribute to better overall joint health, reducing the risk of injuries and enhancing your ability to move efficiently in daily activities and sports.

Core Engagement

Maintaining an upright posture and stabilizing the body during the ATG Split Squat requires significant activation of the core muscles. The core muscles, including the abdominal and lower back muscles, work to stabilize the spine and maintain proper alignment throughout the exercise. 

This engagement of the core not only improves stability and balance but also helps to strengthen the core muscles, contributing to better posture, spinal support, and overall functional strength. A strong core is essential for maintaining proper body mechanics during various movements and reducing the risk of back pain and injuries.

ATG Split Squat Progression

Progressing in the ATG Split Squat is essential to continue challenging your muscles and consistently gaining strength and stability. To help you advance in this exercise, you can follow a progression that gradually increases the difficulty. If your main issue is with balance, consider the regular ATG Squat as an alternative.

Some common progressions for the ATG Split Squat include:

Bodyweight Split Squat: Start with the basic bodyweight split squat to master the movement pattern and build stability. Focus on maintaining proper form and range of motion.

Goblet Split Squat: Introduce weight by holding a kettlebell or dumbbell at your chest. This adds resistance and increases the demand on your lower body muscles.

Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat: Elevate your rear foot on a step or bench, placing more emphasis on the front leg. This increases the range of motion and activates the muscles in a deeper stretch.

Front-Rack Split Squat: Hold a barbell in the front-rack position, resting on your shoulders, to challenge your core stability and upper body strength while performing the split squat.

Bulgarian Split Squat: Place your rear foot on a raised surface like a bench or box, allowing for a greater range of motion and increased difficulty. This variation further targets the glutes and hamstrings.

Alternatives To The ATG Splitsquat

Goblet Squat

The Goblet Squat is a popular alternative to the ATG Split Squat that focuses on targeting the lower body muscles, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. In this exercise, you hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in front of your chest, which helps to counterbalance your body weight as you perform the squat. 

The Goblet Squat promotes lower body strength, stability, and mobility while also engaging the core muscles. It is a versatile exercise that can be modified by adjusting the weight and depth of the squat or incorporating pulses to increase the intensity.

Barbell Reverse Lunge

The Barbell Reverse Lunge is another effective alternative to the ATG Split Squat that targets the same muscle groups while incorporating more hip and glute activation. In this exercise, you hold a barbell on your upper back and take a step backward into a lunge position, focusing on maintaining an upright posture and keeping your knee in line with your ankle. 

This exercise improves lower body strength, balance, and coordination. It also challenges the stabilizing muscles of the core and hips. You can increase the difficulty by adding more weight or performing walking lunges.

Dumbbell Step-Ups

Dumbbell Step-Ups is a dynamic exercise that targets the lower body, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, while also engaging the core and stabilizing muscles. In this exercise, you step onto a raised platform, such as a bench or box, using one leg at a time while holding dumbbells by your sides. 

Dumbbell Step-Ups help improve lower body strength, balance, and stability. They also mimic functional movements like climbing stairs or stepping onto elevated surfaces. You can increase the challenge by adjusting the height of the platform or increasing the weight of the dumbbells.

Bottom Line On ATG Splitsquat

The ATG Split Squat is a fantastic exercise for building lower body strength, improving balance, and enhancing stability. By incorporating this challenging movement into your leg training routine, you can unlock its transformative power and experience its numerous benefits. However, it’s important to approach the exercise with proper form, gradual progression, and consistency.

When performing the ATG Split Squat, listen to your body and adjust as needed. Start with lighter weights and focus on mastering the technique before increasing the difficulty. It’s always better to prioritize proper form over heavy weights. If you have any concerns or limitations, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a fitness professional who can provide personalized advice and modifications.

Consistency is key when it comes to reaping the rewards of the ATG Split Squat. Incorporate it into your leg training routine regularly, and you’ll gradually notice improvements in your lower body strength, balance, and stability. Remember, fitness is a journey, and progress takes time. Stay committed, be patient, and enjoy this exercise’s benefits to your overall fitness and well-being.

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