How one can Do the Entrance Foot Elevated Break up Squat for Dimension, Energy, and Athleticism

With regards to constructing muscle one leg at a time, the Bulgarian split squat, often known as the rear foot elevated cut up squat, often will get all of the reward and a focus. However the true ones know the way underrated the entrance foot elevated cut up squat really is.

Credit score: Zoran Pucarevic / Shutterstock

The unfairly ignored entrance foot elevated cut up squat is gaining fairly the recognition surge, particularly from its use in rehab and athletic settings. This upgraded cut up squat variation is often just a little extra comfy to arrange than the rear foot elevated choice and it could actually skyrocket your lower body muscle, strength, and athleticism. Right here’s a more in-depth take a look at this distinctive train.

Entrance Foot Elevated Break up Squat

The entrance foot elevated cut up squat, or FFESS, requires a high-level of stability throughout an extended vary of movement, which might make the train troublesome to grasp. Comply with these method cues to sort out this single-leg train.

Step 1 — Set Up Your Platform

Person in gym standing on aerobic step
Credit score: Steadiness in Movement / YouTube

You’ll discover a large profit from even the slightest elevation. Any platform that’s not less than two to 4 inches excessive will probably be ample. A small cardio step or one or two weight plates work properly. Use bumper plates, if doable, to forestall sliding. In case your gymnasium has an Olympic lifting platform with a raised edge, that may work too.

Type Tip: A staircase may look like a handy choice, but it surely’s probably too excessive to begin with and might make the motion too awkward. It can find yourself feeling extra like an indecisive hybrid between a split squat and a step-up whereas delivering the outcomes of neither.

Step 2 — Elevate Your Entrance Foot

person in gym elevating one foot on weight plate
Credit score: Iron Monk / YouTube

Having a powerful and secure entrance foot is, clearly, key to the entrance foot elevated cut up squat. Stand upright and set one foot flat on the platform. Hold your total foot in touch all through every repetition. Don’t increase up onto your toes or heel.

Type Tip: Supportive footwear can play a surprisingly important function in your mobility, stability, and pressure manufacturing. (1) Old fashioned Chuck Taylor sneakers, devoted weightlifting footwear, or any stable-soled shoe is preferable. Tremendous-floppy, extraordinarily cushioned trainers aren’t splendid as a result of stability will probably be compromised as your foot compresses into the cushioning.

Step 3 — Set Your Again Foot

muscular person in gym doing foot-elevated lunge exercise
Credit score: PriorityStrength / YouTube

Your again foot needs to be as safe and secure as your entrance foot. Hold your entrance foot in place and step again a cushty distance for you, relying in your leg length and normal mobility.

Relying in your ankle mobility, your again foot will probably be on the ball slightly than flat on the bottom. That is acceptable as a result of this foot is primarily for assist and stability, and won’t be producing a lot pressure into the ground.

Type Tip: For optimum stability and stability, be sure your again foot is in its personal “lane,” indirectly according to your entrance foot. You shouldn’t really feel such as you’re perched on a skinny stability beam. It is best to really feel secure and grounded.

Step 4 — Decrease Your self With Management

muscular person in gym doing foot-elevated lunge exercise
Credit score: PriorityStrength / YouTube

Take a deep breath and really feel each ft securely in place earlier than descending into the rep. Really feel your decrease physique and your core being nonetheless earlier than descending. Hold your higher physique upright together with your shoulders pulled again.

Bend your entrance leg and decrease your self with management. Descend as little as doable, ideally reaching your again knee to the bottom.

Type Tip: Relying in your mobility, your again knee ought to gently graze the bottom — with an emphasis on gently. Some lifters fail to concentrate in the course of the descent and rapidly smash their again knee into the bottom. Don’t do this.

Step 5 — Drive As much as the Beginning Place

muscular person in gym doing foot-elevated lunge exercise
Credit score: PriorityStrength / YouTube

Whenever you’ve reached the deepest place your hip and leg mobility permits, push by means of your entrance leg to drive as much as a standing place

Hold your higher physique near vertical as you drive up. Don’t enable your self to bend ahead on the waist. Repeat all repetitions with one leg earlier than switching sides.

Type Tip: It may be tempting to bounce out of the underside by leveraging the stretch reflex — a muscle’s means to “rebound” in the course of the transition from a stretched place to a full contraction for elevated momentum and energy. (2) Keep away from it to permit your glutes and quads to do all of the work. This may construct extra muscle by growing the time underneath rigidity, whereas conserving you safer by decreasing ballistic forces.

This train can really feel tough, particularly whenever you’re awkwardly establishing for the primary time. Listed here are some frequent errors to keep away from.

Not Being Cell Sufficient

Whereas this train might be nice for constructing mobility, in case your hip and ankle mobility resemble the Tin Man, you’ll wrestle to go deep sufficient to reap the muscle- and strength-building advantages. (3)

person in gym doing front foot elevated squat
Credit score: GrowFormance / YouTube

In case you’re unable to descend close to full-depth, the train gained’t be any totally different for constructing measurement or power than an ordinary cut up squat, however it could actually nonetheless be useful as a mobility drill should you give attention to enhancing your depth as an alternative of including reps or weight.

Keep away from it: To carry out the train effectively, do a dynamic warm-up previous to your leg exercise to make sure your hips and ankles are completely mobilized and ready for coaching. Over time, this could assist to get into the deeper positions of knee flexion and hip flexion wanted to succeed in the underside place.

Not Going Low Sufficient

The aim of the platform elevation is to extend the vary of movement. It allows you to get into levels of knee and hip flexion that you simply couldn’t entry with different workout routines.

Person in gym doing single-leg lunge with kettlebell
Credit score: Kevin Maxen / YouTube

Nonetheless, it’s frequent to see individuals do the primary few reps with an ideal deep reps however, when the pump units in, they begin to compromise the vary of movement. Quickly sufficient, the “entrance foot elevated cut up squats” seem like utilizing much less vary than conventional cut up squats with each ft on the bottom.

Keep away from it: Select an elevation degree that works for you and hold each rep constant. Attempt to evenly contact your again knee to the bottom every rep, or not less than get shut. Utilizing a folded towel or padded mat underneath your again knee can function a dependable goal so long as it permits your again knee to succeed in decrease than your entrance foot.

Being Too Wobbly

The elevated entrance foot-position will make stability more difficult. The extra wobbly you might be, the much less muscle-building pressure you possibly can generate. To not point out, you’ll really feel self-conscious should you topple over whereas holding a pair of sunshine dumbbells.

In case you’re centered on sustaining stability greater than you’re centered on really training your legs, the general stimulus will probably be lowered and also you’ll waste power.

long-haired person in gym doing single-leg squat
Credit score: kristifitnick / YouTube

Keep away from it: Take your time to safe your foot place earlier than doing a few warm-up units. Even when your working weight will probably be comparatively gentle, a warm-up set or two with only your body weight could be a recreation changer in getting ready your nervous system and core musculature to stabilize the load successfully. 

Think about together with the FFESS in your program as a result of it’s easy to progress. It additionally by no means runs out of development as a result of, should you do handle to expire of weights, your legs will probably be past elite standing at that time.

Start with Body weight

The bodyweight-only FFESS might be fairly humbling. Even for some superior lifters, the train might be difficult particularly when completed towards the latter a part of a exercise. Performing the train as a “finisher” when your legs are pre-fatigued from heavy coaching might be an eye-opening, leg-burning expertise.

The body weight FFESS can also be a wonderful go-to train when you’ve got restricted gear, like whenever you’re coaching at residence or on the road.

Loading with Dumbbells

When you grasp body weight FFESS, take into account including load through dumbbells. That is the best and commonest setup for loading — merely maintain a pair of dumbbells at your sides.

Utilizing a slender platform helps forestall the dumbbells from clashing with the platform, particularly when you have longer arms and attain most depth. Controlling the load and never permitting the dumbbells to hit the platform works nice, as properly.

Because the weights get heavier, and as you’re capable of do extra reps per set, your grip will probably fatigue fairly a bit over the course of a number of units. As soon as you’re feeling it kick in, you must use lifting straps or some form of help to get rid of your grip as a weak hyperlink.

Barbell Entrance Foot Elevated Break up Squat

Barbells enable for probably the most loading, however they’re additionally probably the most time consuming to arrange together with including extra instability. Nonetheless, this can be a needed compromise when you get robust.

Be sure you have a powerful, secure platform to assist the added weight. Arrange in a rack with security pins, just like performing squats. Progress like most barbell workout routines, including just a little extra weight and some extra reps from week to week.

This train has some distinctive methods of delivering its advantages. Right here’s why you must incorporate the FFESS as quickly as doable.

Hypertrophy and Energy

The entrance foot elevated cut up squat will produce single-leg power and hypertrophy because of an extended vary of movement and distinctive positioning in comparison with different train choices. The entrance foot elevation lets you push your heart of mass ahead, bringing your hamstring in opposition to your calf with out compromising torso place.

This stretches the muscle mass of the quads and glutes underneath load and will increase mechanical rigidity in comparison with bilateral squat variations. The unilateral (single-leg) nature helps with addressing potential imbalances and in addition maximizes vary of movement, which will increase hypertrophy. (3)

The power you acquire from this train interprets effectively to many different workout routines. You’ll discover your single-leg and bilateral (two-leg) lower body exercises getting stronger after specializing in the FFESS as an adjunct motion. 

Ache-Free Coaching

One of many predominant advantages individuals discover this train within the first place is to search out pain-free options to barbell squatting. In case your joints are achy, this train could be a good choice.

gray-haired person outdoors doing leg exercise
Credit score: Anatoliy Karlyuk / Shutterstock

It lets you lighten the load whereas attaining ranges of motions you probably didn’t have entry to. Over time, you obtain pain-free muscle building. As well as, the FFESS reinforces new levels of hip, knee, and ankle mobility. 

The FFESS prioritizes your decrease physique muscle mass — good on your favourite leg day. Some core stability and higher physique stability is educated as properly, particularly when utilizing added load.


The entrance foot elevated cut up squat primarily trains your quads. The entrance thigh muscle will get labored by means of an extended vary of movement as you get into deep angles of knee flexion (bending). Along with your entrance foot elevated, you’ve got the chance to drive your knee ahead for a deep weighted stretch within the quads. 


Much like many squat variations, your glutes are additionally going to get a major stimulus in the course of the FFESS, particularly within the backside stretched place.

person holding kettlebells during lunge exercise
Credit score: Sergii Gnatiuk / Shutterstock

You’ll probably really feel extra glute soreness, particularly should you’re used to a comparatively shortener vary of movement from conventional squats and cut up squats.


The FFESS will even nail your interior thighs (adductors), notably in your entrance leg. This muscle will get a excessive diploma of stabilizing motion in the course of the train, together with some dynamic contraction to increase your hips on the prime of the motion.

Usually talking, it’s finest to do unilateral workout routines after heavier bilateral workout routines to keep away from fatiguing essential stabilizers. You’ll be able to program the FFESS after your heavy sets of squats, probably because the second or third train of a lower body day.

Nonetheless, the stimulus from the FFESS is efficient and complete for the quads, glutes, and adductors, so it’s can be legitimate to program them as your first train. That is splendid, for instance, for lifters with achy knees who don’t do properly with heavy bilateral actions early within the exercise. Prioritizing the entrance foot elevated cut up squat permits your hips, knees, and ankles to be extra completely warmed up earlier than continuing to comparatively heavier lifting.

Average to Gentle Weight, Excessive Reps

This train is finest fitted to average to gentle weight. This enables for much less joint pressure and connective tissue stress, and lets you higher management the load which may give you a greater mind-muscle connection.

front foot elevated split squat stance
Credit score: BarBend / YouTube

Most individuals will choose to do these with comparatively gentle weight and better reps to create a powerful pump and a good stronger mind-muscle connection. With this method, some lifters might even give you the chance skip any warm-up units, relying on how they really feel and the way their physique responds. Choose a load you are able to do for not less than 12 reps, and crank out two or three units of 10 to twenty per leg.

Heavy Weight, Low Reps

In case you do FFESS early within the exercise, you possibly can go heavier. Your nervous system will probably be recent and you’ll stabilize heavier hundreds. Three or 4 units of 5 to 10 reps (per leg) is already fairly heavy for this train. You’ll nonetheless want one or two warm-up units, particularly should you’re robust and plan on approaching your limits.

Utilizing extraordinarily heavy weights for very low reps just isn’t advisable as a result of the soundness required for them is probably not price it. It’s not the kind of train to check your one-rep max as a result of the chance:reward simply isn’t price it.

There’s a few efficient variations of the entrance foot elevated cut up squat for these which can be extra adventurous or need to progress past the usual motion.

Heel-Elevated Break up Squat 

As an alternative of simply elevating your entrance foot, add a further plate or ramp to raise your heel even greater. This places your foot right into a steep angle, creating much more knee flexion and makes an already quad-dominant cut up squat much more quad-dominant.

That is nice for these in want of significant quad progress or for athletes who need to get used to deeper ranges of knee flexion, together with fight sports activities athletes, power sports activities athletes, soccer gamers, or sprinters.

Double-Elevated Break up Squat

If you wish to maximize your mobility and vary of movement, you possibly can elevate each the back and front foot. Primarily, you might be combining the FFESS with a Bulgarian cut up squat. Extra vary of movement for each the entrance leg and the again leg may help to skyrocket your quad and glute gains.

Setting this up might be cumbersome and requires some further house, however when you’ve decided a superb arrange and know an efficient distance to set every platform, it needs to be fairly easy every time you’re within the gymnasium.

Ceaselessly Requested Questions

What makes the entrance foot elevated cut up squat totally different than the rear foot elevated cut up squat (Bulgarian cut up squat)?

Relying in your construction and mobility degree, the 2 workout routines may not be all that totally different. Nonetheless, most individuals will really feel their quads extra in the course of the FFESS. You’ll be able to consider the entrance foot elevated cut up squat as a extra “quad-dominant model” of Bulgarian cut up squats.
FFESS are additionally simpler to setup and usually really feel extra comfy to carry out. Elevating your again foot with Bulgarian cut up squats often requires extra hip and ankle mobility and could be a greater problem to keep up stability.

Why don’t I see extra individuals within the gymnasium doing the entrance foot elevated cut up squat?

Bulgarian cut up squats are merely extra standard in recent times. They’ve garnered a repute for being painful — the “good form” of ache from post-workout soreness — and extra “hardcore.” They’re an excellent train, however the entrance foot elevated cut up squat is beginning to catch up in reputation because of the rehab world.
Many physiotherapists assign the FFESS as a option to prepare deep ranges of movement with lowered knee ache. Many individuals be taught the motion and find yourself realizing, “Oh, snap, these are nice even when I’m not making an attempt to rehab my knee because of the gnarly quad pump.”

Single-leg coaching is usually ignored in lots of coaching routines. Performing workout routines with an elevated vary of movement, even moreso. The FFESS is a simple answer to each of those deficiencies. This complete train will payoff with extra measurement, extra power, higher mobility, and improved all-around efficiency. You simply have to step as much as the problem.


  1. Legg, H. S., Glaister, M., Cleather, D. J., & Goodwin, J. E. (2017). The impact of weightlifting footwear on the kinetics and kinematics of the again squat. Journal of sports activities sciences, 35(5), 508–515.
  2. Seiberl, W., Hahn, D., Energy, G. A., Fletcher, J. R., & Siebert, T. (2021). Editorial: The Stretch-Shortening Cycle of Lively Muscle and Muscle-Tendon Advanced: What, Why and How It Will increase Muscle Efficiency?. Frontiers in physiology, 12, 693141.
  3. Schoenfeld, B. J., & Grgic, J. (2020). Results of vary of movement on muscle improvement throughout resistance coaching interventions: A scientific evaluate. SAGE open drugs, 8, 2050312120901559.

Featured Picture: Steadiness in Movement / YouTube

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