Fitness tip - Deficit split squat

Fitness tip - Deficit split squat

by Evigan Xiao 22 May 2019

Squats may deserve the title “king of all exercises”, but they also demand the lion's share of attention when it comes to ensuring that the movement itself stays on point. Since the squat involves various muscle groups from both the upper and lower body, the potential for a kink in your movement chain is always significant. For a good number of people, that issue involves a restriction in hip mobility.


Whether you're emerging from a sedentary lifestyle or recovering from an injury, hip mobility issues are a common concern. Like most other mobility considerations, it exists very much on a “use it or lose it” continuum. Thankfully, regaining hip mobility is a lot easier if you've displayed it to a high degree before. If not, it will take some extra time to achieve. Patience, along with exercises like the deficit split squat, will get you where you want to go.

Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


The added range of motion, afforded by the elevation, is what makes the deficit split squat so effective when it comes to accessing that extra level of mobility. Furthermore, usage of the split squat allows you to do so on a unilateral basis, which is a good way to guard against one side of the hip lagging behind the other. The lower back's ability to contribute to the movement is also negated in this variation, circumventing the possibility of it acting as a compensator.


Executing the movement is simple enough: just take your position on the plates/platforms and squat up and down. Short pauses at the bottom can help increase confidence with the movement, improve stability and help the body to “remember” the amount of mobility it has access to. As with all squat variations, you will want to ensure that your knee remains in line with your ankle at all times. A valgus (lateral collapse) of the knee can create joint problems and form bad movement habits.


The deficit split squat can be used as a warm-up or an accessory movement, and can be performed unloaded or loaded. While higher repetitions tend to work better, avoid the temptation to gun your way through the set. If you're bouncing up and down, you won't be doing much good mobility-wise. Slow it down and feel your way through the movement, or employ a strict tempo so that you don't let yourself get too carried away.