Exercise of the Week: Wall Split Squats

Posted on by Ben Bruno

This week’s exercise of the week comes courtesy of Nick Tumminello. It is called Wall Split Squats and is a great variation of the more common Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (otherwise known as the Bulgarian Split Squat). You can read what Nick has to say about it in his article Five New Exercises.

The setup is the same as with a normal Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat, except rather than resting your back leg on top of a bench, you press it hard into a wall behind you, effectively activating the glutes and hamstrings on the rear leg and placing more stress onto the posterior chain. You must maintain this isometric contraction throughout the entire set, which is more difficult than it might seem. By the end of the set, your glutes will be on fire.

Due to the nature of the setup, a certain degree of forward lean of the torso will be inevitable (note that I said forward lean and not spinal flexion), similar to the body position of a King deadlift. Since there is no substantial spinal loading involved, this is nothing to worry about, and in fact, it is probably beneficial because it creates more glute recruitment in the front leg.

The body position and demands required to do this exercise makes it difficult to add weight via dumbells and barbells, but weighted vests can be used if additional loads are needed. Here it is in action. Trust me when I say this is much harder than it looks. This is another gem from Nick.

  • Paul Bruce

    Awesome, Ben! This looks like a great progression into shrimp squats/king deadlifts/skater squats (the exercise that has too many names). I think working up to a king deadlift is great to complement the pistol squat – since king deadlifts are very posterior-chain heavy, while pistol squats are very anterior-chain heavy, they complement each other as they act as the single-leg equivalents to back squats and front squats, respectively. And while Bulgarian/RFE split-squats are good precursors to both these moves, this wall split-squat helps to further progress to king deadlifts by demanding more of the posterior chain.

    In other words…
    Thanks for posting this! This move really helps in progressing to king deadlifts!

  • Om Rok

    Hey, I did this exercise and felt it most notably in the muscles of my lower back. I *guess* it’s the external oblique abdominal muscles, but I’m not really sure. I drew the red lines onto this back pic to show where I’m feeling it. Definitely muscles though, since a day later I’m feeling the soreness even. Since I know that this should target primarily the glutes, I’m wondering did I do something wrong with the exercise? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/be71bdfa4c260f3cacc3620a3b51b944ba92e4eb30ac8c934d8ed180ffc0383d.jpg