Exercise of the Week: Band Resisted Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats

Well, I made it back from Florida this afternoon. It’s funny because all week I heard about how terrible the weather was here in the Northeast, but it was actually colder in Florida when I left this morning (28ºF) than it was in New Hampshire when I returned home (37ºF). Go figure.

Anyway, now that I’m back I will be updating more regularly, starting today with the new exercise of the week. I’m very excited about this one. Again, I’m not quite sure what to call it so I went with Band Resisted Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats (that’s a bit of tongue twister so I’d love some better suggestions). I have been testing this out for the past month or so, and I am growing to love it more and more each time I do it. I got the idea after doing some cable resisted hip belt squats and thought to apply a similar concept to single leg work.

To perform this exercise, affix one end a resistance band to the bottom of a pole in the power rack (or any sturdy post) and attach the other end of the band to a belt. From there, walk backwards until there is substantial tension on the band, but not so much that it flings you forward. Next, kneel down on one knee and put your back foot up onto a bench, similarly to how you would perform a normal rear foot elevated split squat (RFESS). You can do the exercise with just your bodyweight or, if you wish, pick up dumbells to hold at your sides. From there, simply perform the exercise as normal, being sure not to let the bands pull you forward off the bench.

This is a great exercise because the band tension forces you to “push back” constantly with your front leg to avoid being pulled forward, which increases quad recruitment (especially the vastus medialis) and develops tremendous balance and stability. The feeling of pushing back is very similar to what you would feel during a reverse sled drag. You also have to use core strength to stay balanced and keep tight. It takes some time to adjust to the band resistance so be sure to master bodyweight before progressing to holding dumbells. You will have to use significantly less weight than you would without the band tension, so swallow your pride and be prepared for that. You can also adjust the band tension by adjusting how far away you place the bench from the post (starting closer and increasing the distance over time) or increases the band thickness.

I warn you: these will absolutely fry your quads. Here is what it looks like in action.