Deadlifting and squatting are great.
But remember, they’re movement patterns, not necessarily exercises.
Deadlifting can be done with a barbell, a trap bar, or kettlebells. They can also be done from the floor, from blocks of various heights, or from safety racks. You could also use bands or chains for accommodating resistance.
You can squat with your bodyweight, with a dumbbell in the goblet position, with a barbell on the front of your shoulders or the back, with one kettlebell or two, or a myriad of other ways.
The point is, finding the right exercise for you to train each of the fundamental movement patterns is crucial to getting stronger, building muscle, and getting more athletic. There are no sacred cow exercises that you have to do in particular, but you need to make sure you hit all 8 patterns and attack any weak links you have in order to keep progressing.
With that being said, while the squat and deadlift movements are important, the lower body pattern that most people can and should train the hardest and heaviest is the split stance.
And the best way to do this is with split squat variations.
Not only do split squats help to work out imbalances between legs, but they’ll also help you build a big set of wheels because the stress stays on the legs the whole time without your lower back being the limiting factor, as is often the case with back squatting and conventional deadlifting.
On top of this, they’re an easily loadable exercise, and you can do so in a multitude of ways. This high level of load-ability also makes them such a great muscle and strength building exercise.
There are 5 other significant benefits which make split squats uniquely qualified to be the staple lower body movement in your training programs:
If you want big, strong legs that not only help to keep you injury free but also keep you progressing in the gym and performing at your best when you’re out kicking life’s ass, split squats need to be a priority.
With all that being said, the training effect you get from split squats can radically change, depending on how you load them.
I’ve split them up into 4 categories:
Here are the top 42 split squat variations. Choose which one to use depending on your ability, goals, and focus of a given training program.