This exercise is a GREAT combination exercise done using the In-Set Superset technique where you alternate reps of two different exercises in one set in order to focus the work on one common bodypart.
In this case, however, both exercises tend to work the same general muscles (quads, hams, glutes, lower back), just in a different fashion.
For this exercise, you’re going to be combining a dumbell split squat with basically what amounts to a stiff-legged deadlift with one leg forward (hence the forward lean). Your leg and foot position stays the same the whole way through…you just alternate between reps of one exercise then the other then you switch legs and do it again.
This is an excellent exercise for developing the entire lower body as well as targeting the lower back. I found that this exercise did wonders for my deadlift, especially once you start working up to heavier weights (I’m using 85’s for this demo…I’ve gone as high as 150 lb dumbells on it).
So start with the two dumbells on the floor in the bottom of the lunge position. You’ll want a moderate stance on the lunge…your back foot not too far back or two far forward. Once you do the exercise for a rep or two, you’ll know where it feels right for you.
Your front foot should be right in between the two dumbells.
Bring your back knee off the ground then lean forward and grab the dumbells. Keep your core TIGHT as you do this.
Now come up to a vertical torso position, which is the top position of the split squat.
Do a rep of the split squat. It’s important to note the difference between a split squat and a lunge…with a lunge, you start with your feet together and step forward then come all the way back up. In a split squat, you start with your legs split already and just lower yourself down then back up. I find the split squat to be a lot less stress on the knees than a lunge as you don’t need to stop the forward momentum of the weights.
So next come back up to the full standing position.
Now lean forward, lightly touching the ends of the dumbells to the floor. Pretty much all the tension is going to be on your front leg and lower back here. Keep your core tight and try not to let your lower back round over.
Then come back up to vertical.
Once you’ve done your reps on one side (about 6 to 8 reps total is good, which is 3 or 4 on each exercise), then switch to the other leg.
The execution is exactly the same.
Down into the split squat.
Then back up.
Then into the forward lean.
Then back up.
Repeat for 6 to 8 reps on that side.
And you’re done! Set the dumbells down on the floor.
This is a great exercise (especially if you have a home gym) for hitting the entire lower body as well as the lower back. As I mentioned above, it works GREAT for improving your deadlift as well, by focusing a lot of work on the lower back and the functioning of the glutes, both in the split squat (hip extension accompanied by knee flexion) and the stiff-leg deadlift part (straight-leg hip extension).
You will really feel this one in the glutes the next day, I can promise you that 🙂
Nick Nilsson is known in the fitness industry as the “Mad Scientist of Muscle,” and for good reason! For more than 28 years, Nick has been creating unique, new exercises and training techniques and putting together some of the most innovative muscle-building and fat-loss programs available anywhere.
Never heard of the In-Set Superset technique, I’ll have to give it a try sometime
I’ve been doing this move for two weeks now. This definitely kicks my ass! The burn I feel in the glutes and hams shows me how intense this exercise is. Thanks for the info. I’ll work this out in my regular routine. I’ve also recommend this movement to some fellow gym rats buddies of mine…
Looking forward to your next article..
Excellent! Yeah, it’s one of my favorites for lower body – really hits everything in one shot. It’ll build your deadlift fast, too.