By Elizabeth Towe
Running requires strength and stability on one leg to drive the body forward efficiently. The split squat is a great multi-joint (hip-knee-ankle) exercise that really brings the hip joint to the forefront as the power mover that drives us forward in walking and running. In reference to improving triathlon performance, particularly accessing running power through T2 (transition from bike to run), get the front of the hip open (see Brian Beatty’s article) so you can appropriately extend the hip for running power.
- Start by putting one leg behind you on a BOSU or low step and the standing leg in front of the pelvis. If using a step it should not be higher than 6” so you don’t change the angle of the pelvis as you hold your foot in place.
- Start by bracing the core, begin folding at the hip joint and “sitting” into the back of the standing hip. Keep the front knee behind the toe to prevent loading the knee joint.
- Your torso should lean forward slightly toward the front thigh as you descend, keeping neutral spine (do not round your back). Keep the core engaged to keep the pelvis neutral – the tendency will be to arch the back and tilt the pelvis forward.
- Keep your front foot flat on the floor and weight anchored into the heel. As you begin to push yourself into standing you should feel the glutes of the front leg bringing you back into a single leg balance.
Repeat on each leg 10-15 times for two to three sets. For a progression, hold dumbbells by your sides.
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Elizabeth Towe is a runner and a cyclist and the owner of Balanced Movement Studio in Carrboro. She graduated from East Carolina with a degree in exercise and sports science and has been personal training for over 20 years. Her ultimate goal for all of her clients is to help them realize and achieve the optimal quality in their life – and to remember to have fun doing it.