Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Adductors, Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings, Shoulders, Traps, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Quads Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Contralateral Load Split Squat Overview

The contralateral loaded split squat is a variation of the dumbbell split squat and an exercise used to target the muscles of the leg.

By utilizing a contralateral load, as seen with the contralateral loaded split squat, you challenge your core to stabilize the core and remain upright.

This can be a good way to strengthen the core before moving on to more advanced variations of the split squat.

Contralateral Load Split Squat Instructions

  1. Set up in a split stance with a dumbbell in the opposite hand as the forward leg.
  2. Descend by flexing both knees simultaneously and continue until the back knee touches the ground directly beneath the hip.
  3. Drive through the front foot and extend the knee as you return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Contralateral Load Split Squat Tips

  1. Do not progress to the unilateral loaded version until you have fully mastered the bodyweight version of this movement. Adding additional load without having the requisite motor control is a recipe for disaster. Learn to walk before you try to run.
  2. If you want to emphasize the quads during the split squat, focus on taking a slightly smaller split stance and drive up through the ball of the foot.
  3. If you want to emphasize the glutes and hamstrings during the split squat, focus on taking a slightly larger split stance and drive up through the heel of the foot.
  4. If you’re an overextended athlete then you may find it more beneficial to allow for slightly more torso lean throughout the drill as this will help to keep your spine neutral and load the front leg more effectively.
  5. If the front leg keeps diving in excessively as you reverse from the eccentric to concentric, attach a band to a rack, loop one end around your knee, and allow it to pull you into a valgus position (not excessively, just slightly). From here, push out against the band to engage the glute and keep yourself in a more neutral position.
  6. You don’t need to feel like you have to be completely upright as you complete the movement. On the contrary, you should have a slight forward lean and focus on keeping your lumbar spine neutral.