The rear-foot-elevated split squat (RFESS) or the back-leg-raised split squat (BLRSS) are superior single leg exercises to improve athlete’s lower body strength levels without destroying the low back. I have become a huge advocate of single leg training since coaching at Endeavor and reading from other great strength coaches. Back squatting is not “bad” but I cannot remember when was the last time I have ever watched someone in a commercial gym or weight room actually squat correctly. Even so, single leg exercise reign superior because of their ability to recruit the hip external rotators and hip abductors (muscles that can often go neglected during bilateral lifts). Single leg strength exercises are simply good for injury prevention. RFESS are typically progressions in our training programs from dumbbell reverse lunges for our training programs. Benefits of the RFESS are…
- Increased balance & hip flexibility
- Increased strength & size
- Better femoral control (recruiting the external rotators and abductors)
However, there are some movement issues that need to be addressed when watching athletes. You may see these with your athletes as well. It is critical that while observing athletes perform a lift that you get a view from multiple angles. Looking from the side, the athlete may appear to execute the exercise perfectly, but from the back you may notice something entirely different and vice versa.
#1 Watch for the athletes/clients hitting their hip “end-range” of motion
**Reps 1 & 2 show more of what would be more of a hip abductor/external rotator weakness/stability issue
**Reps 3 & 4 illustrates shifting that only occurs at the bottom position (hitting hip end ROM)
- When viewing your athletes from the back, you may see a shifting into the front side hip (right hip in video). If you notice that the shifting is occurring at the bottom of the descent it may be indicative that the athlete is hitting their end range of hip flexion. The end range at the hip is also followed by hip internal rotation (not good!). Cue the athlete to stay up slightly higher so that they can keep a good hip, knee, and ankle alignment throughout the movement.
#2 Immediate hip shifting may be indicative of hip abductor/external rotator weakness
- The second movement is slightly different. Take that same video above; if someone immediately starts to shift into that front hip upon descending, that may illustrate hip abductor and external rotator weakness. In this case exercises like lateral mini-band walks & side-lying clamshells would be great pairing exercises for the RFE Split Squat.