The way to Do the Entrance Foot Elevated Cut up Squat for Dimension, Energy, and Athleticism

Relating to constructing muscle one leg at a time, the Bulgarian split squat, also called the rear foot elevated cut up squat, normally will get all of the reward and a spotlight. However the true ones know the way underrated the entrance foot elevated cut up squat really is.

Credit score: Zoran Pucarevic / Shutterstock

The unfairly missed entrance foot elevated cut up squat is gaining fairly the recognition surge, particularly from its use in rehab and athletic settings. This upgraded cut up squat variation is often somewhat extra comfy to arrange than the rear foot elevated possibility and it could possibly skyrocket your lower body muscle, strength, and athleticism. Right here’s a better have a look at this distinctive train.

Entrance Foot Elevated Cut up Squat

The entrance foot elevated cut up squat, or FFESS, requires a high-level of stability throughout an extended vary of movement, which might make the train tough to grasp. Comply with these approach cues to sort out this single-leg train.

Step 1 — Set Up Your Platform

Person in gym standing on aerobic step
Credit score: Steadiness in Movement / YouTube

You’ll discover a large profit from even the slightest elevation. Any platform that’s at the very least two to 4 inches excessive can be adequate. A small cardio step or one or two weight plates work properly. Use bumper plates, if attainable, to stop sliding. In case your fitness center has an Olympic lifting platform with a raised edge, that may work too.

Type Tip: A staircase may appear to be a handy possibility, but it surely’s doubtless too excessive to start out with and might make the motion too awkward. It should find yourself feeling extra like an indecisive hybrid between a split squat and a step-up whereas delivering the outcomes of neither.

Step 2 — Elevate Your Entrance Foot

person in gym elevating one foot on weight plate
Credit score: Iron Monk / YouTube

Having a robust and steady entrance foot is, clearly, key to the entrance foot elevated cut up squat. Stand upright and set one foot flat on the platform. Hold your total foot involved all through every repetition. Don’t increase up onto your toes or heel.

Type Tip: Supportive footwear can play a surprisingly important function in your mobility, stability, and drive manufacturing. (1) Old fashioned Chuck Taylor sneakers, devoted weightlifting footwear, or any stable-soled shoe is preferable. Tremendous-floppy, extraordinarily cushioned trainers are usually not splendid as a result of stability can be compromised as your foot compresses into the cushioning.

Step 3 — Set Your Again Foot

muscular person in gym doing foot-elevated lunge exercise
Credit score: PriorityStrength / YouTube

Your again foot ought to be as safe and steady as your entrance foot. Hold your entrance foot in place and step again a cushty distance for you, relying in your leg length and common mobility.

Relying in your ankle mobility, your again foot will doubtless be on the ball relatively than flat on the bottom. That is acceptable as a result of this foot is primarily for help and steadiness, and won’t be producing a lot drive into the ground.

Type Tip: For optimum steadiness and stability, make certain your again foot is in its personal “lane,” circuitously in keeping with your entrance foot. You shouldn’t really feel such as you’re perched on a skinny steadiness beam. You need to really feel steady and grounded.

Step 4 — Decrease Your self With Management

muscular person in gym doing foot-elevated lunge exercise
Credit score: PriorityStrength / YouTube

Take a deep breath and really feel each ft securely in place earlier than descending into the rep. Really feel your decrease physique and your core being nonetheless earlier than descending. Hold your higher physique upright along with your shoulders pulled again.

Bend your entrance leg and decrease your self with management. Descend as little as attainable, ideally reaching your again knee to the bottom.

Type Tip: Relying in your mobility, your again knee ought to gently graze the bottom — with an emphasis on gently. Some lifters fail to concentrate in the course of the descent and shortly smash their again knee into the bottom. Don’t do this.

Step 5 — Drive As much as the Beginning Place

muscular person in gym doing foot-elevated lunge exercise
Credit score: PriorityStrength / YouTube

Whenever you’ve reached the deepest place your hip and leg mobility permits, push by way of your entrance leg to drive as much as a standing place

Hold your higher physique near vertical as you drive up. Don’t enable your self to bend ahead on the waist. Repeat all repetitions with one leg earlier than switching sides.

Type Tip: It may be tempting to bounce out of the underside by leveraging the stretch reflex — a muscle’s means to “rebound” in the course of the transition from a stretched place to a full contraction for elevated momentum and energy. (2) Keep away from it to permit your glutes and quads to do all of the work. This may construct extra muscle by rising the time beneath pressure, whereas retaining you safer by decreasing ballistic forces.

This train can really feel difficult, particularly while you’re awkwardly establishing for the primary time. Listed below are some frequent errors to keep away from.

Not Being Cellular Sufficient

Whereas this train might be nice for constructing mobility, in case your hip and ankle mobility resemble the Tin Man, you’ll battle to go deep sufficient to reap the muscle- and strength-building advantages. (3)

person in gym doing front foot elevated squat
Credit score: GrowFormance / YouTube

In the event you’re unable to descend close to full-depth, the train gained’t be any totally different for constructing measurement or energy than an ordinary cut up squat, however it could possibly nonetheless be helpful as a mobility drill if you happen to give attention to bettering your depth as an alternative of including reps or weight.

Keep away from it: To carry out the train effectively, do a dynamic warm-up previous to your leg exercise to make sure your hips and ankles are completely mobilized and ready for coaching. Over time, this could assist to get into the deeper positions of knee flexion and hip flexion wanted to succeed in the underside place.

Not Going Low Sufficient

The aim of the platform elevation is to extend the vary of movement. It helps you to get into levels of knee and hip flexion that you simply couldn’t entry with different workouts.

Person in gym doing single-leg lunge with kettlebell
Credit score: Kevin Maxen / YouTube

Nevertheless, it’s frequent to see folks do the primary few reps with an ideal deep reps however, when the pump units in, they begin to compromise the vary of movement. Quickly sufficient, the “entrance foot elevated cut up squats” seem like utilizing much less vary than conventional cut up squats with each ft on the bottom.

Keep away from it: Select an elevation degree that works for you and preserve each rep constant. Attempt to flippantly contact your again knee to the bottom every rep, or at the very least get shut. Utilizing a folded towel or padded mat beneath your again knee can function a dependable goal so long as it permits your again knee to succeed in decrease than your entrance foot.

Being Too Wobbly

The elevated entrance foot-position will make steadiness more difficult. The extra wobbly you might be, the much less muscle-building drive you possibly can generate. To not point out, you’ll really feel self-conscious if you happen to topple over whereas holding a pair of sunshine dumbbells.

In the event you’re centered on sustaining steadiness greater than you’re centered on really training your legs, the general stimulus can be diminished and also you’ll waste vitality.

long-haired person in gym doing single-leg squat
Credit score: kristifitnick / YouTube

Keep away from it: Take your time to safe your foot place earlier than doing a few warm-up units. Even when your working weight can be comparatively gentle, a warm-up set or two with only your body weight generally is a recreation changer in making ready your nervous system and core musculature to stabilize the load successfully. 

Take into account together with the FFESS in your program as a result of it’s easy to progress. It additionally by no means runs out of development as a result of, if you happen to do handle to expire of weights, your legs can be past elite standing at that time.

Start with Body weight

The bodyweight-only FFESS might be fairly humbling. Even for some superior lifters, the train might be difficult particularly when finished towards the latter a part of a exercise. Performing the train as a “finisher” when your legs are pre-fatigued from heavy coaching might be an eye-opening, leg-burning expertise.

The body weight FFESS can be a superb go-to train when you’ve got restricted gear, like while you’re coaching at residence or on the road.

Loading with Dumbbells

When you grasp body weight FFESS, think about including load through dumbbells. That is the best and commonest setup for loading — merely maintain a pair of dumbbells at your sides.

Utilizing a slender platform helps forestall the dumbbells from clashing with the platform, particularly when you have longer arms and attain most depth. Controlling the load and never permitting the dumbbells to hit the platform works advantageous, as effectively.

Because the weights get heavier, and as you’re capable of do extra reps per set, your grip will doubtless fatigue fairly a bit over the course of a number of units. As soon as you are feeling it kick in, it is best to use lifting straps or some kind of help to eradicate your grip as a weak hyperlink.

Barbell Entrance Foot Elevated Cut up Squat

Barbells enable for probably the most loading, however they’re additionally probably the most time consuming to arrange together with including extra instability. Nevertheless, this can be a essential compromise when you get sturdy.

Be sure to have a robust, steady platform to help the added weight. Arrange in a rack with security pins, much like performing squats. Progress like most barbell workouts, including somewhat extra weight and some extra reps from week to week.

This train has some distinctive methods of delivering its advantages. Right here’s why it is best to incorporate the FFESS as quickly as attainable.

Hypertrophy and Energy

The entrance foot elevated cut up squat will produce single-leg energy and hypertrophy due to an extended vary of movement and distinctive positioning in comparison with different train choices. The entrance foot elevation means that you can push your middle of mass ahead, bringing your hamstring in opposition to your calf with out compromising torso place.

This stretches the muscle groups of the quads and glutes beneath load and will increase mechanical pressure in comparison with bilateral squat variations. The unilateral (single-leg) nature helps with addressing potential imbalances and likewise maximizes vary of movement, which will increase hypertrophy. (3)

The energy you achieve from this train interprets effectively to many different workouts. You’ll discover your single-leg and bilateral (two-leg) lower body exercises getting stronger after specializing in the FFESS as an adjunct motion. 

Ache-Free Coaching

One of many primary advantages folks discover this train within the first place is to search out pain-free options to barbell squatting. In case your joints are achy, this train generally is a good possibility.

gray-haired person outdoors doing leg exercise
Credit score: Anatoliy Karlyuk / Shutterstock

It means that you can lighten the load whereas attaining ranges of motions you doubtless didn’t have entry to. Over time, you obtain pain-free muscle building. As well as, the FFESS reinforces new levels of hip, knee, and ankle mobility. 

The FFESS prioritizes your decrease physique muscle groups — good to your favourite leg day. Some core stability and higher physique stability is skilled as effectively, particularly when utilizing added load.


The entrance foot elevated cut up squat primarily trains your quads. The entrance thigh muscle will get labored by way of an extended vary of movement as you get into deep angles of knee flexion (bending). Along with your entrance foot elevated, you’ve got the chance to drive your knee ahead for a deep weighted stretch within the quads. 


Much like many squat variations, your glutes are additionally going to get a major stimulus in the course of the FFESS, particularly within the backside stretched place.

person holding kettlebells during lunge exercise
Credit score: Sergii Gnatiuk / Shutterstock

You’ll doubtless really feel extra glute soreness, particularly if you happen to’re used to a comparatively shortener vary of movement from conventional squats and cut up squats.


The FFESS may also nail your interior thighs (adductors), significantly in your entrance leg. This muscle will get a excessive diploma of stabilizing motion in the course of the train, together with some dynamic contraction to increase your hips on the high of the motion.

Usually talking, it’s finest to do unilateral workouts after heavier bilateral workouts to keep away from fatiguing necessary stabilizers. You’ll be able to program the FFESS after your heavy sets of squats, probably because the second or third train of a lower body day.

Nevertheless, the stimulus from the FFESS is efficient and complete for the quads, glutes, and adductors, so it’s will also be legitimate to program them as your first train. That is splendid, for instance, for lifters with achy knees who don’t do effectively with heavy bilateral actions early within the exercise. Prioritizing the entrance foot elevated cut up squat permits your hips, knees, and ankles to be extra completely warmed up earlier than continuing to comparatively heavier lifting.

Reasonable to Mild Weight, Excessive Reps

This train is finest suited to average to gentle weight. This enables for much less joint pressure and connective tissue stress, and means that you can higher management the load which can provide you a greater mind-muscle connection.

front foot elevated split squat stance
Credit score: BarBend / YouTube

Most individuals will desire to do these with comparatively gentle weight and better reps to create a robust pump and an excellent stronger mind-muscle connection. With this strategy, some lifters could even have the option skip any warm-up units, relying on how they really feel and the way their physique responds. Decide a load you are able to do for at the very least 12 reps, and crank out two or three units of 10 to twenty per leg.

Heavy Weight, Low Reps

In the event you do FFESS early within the exercise, you possibly can go heavier. Your nervous system can be recent and you may stabilize heavier masses. Three or 4 units of 5 to 10 reps (per leg) is already fairly heavy for this train. You’ll nonetheless want one or two warm-up units, particularly if you happen to’re sturdy and plan on approaching your limits.

Utilizing extraordinarily heavy weights for very low reps is just not advisable as a result of the soundness required for them might not be price it. It’s not the kind of train to check your one-rep max as a result of the danger:reward simply isn’t price it.

There’s a few efficient variations of the entrance foot elevated cut up squat for these which are extra adventurous or need to progress past the usual motion.

Heel-Elevated Cut up Squat 

As a substitute of simply elevating your entrance foot, add an extra plate or ramp to raise your heel even larger. This places your foot right into a steep angle, creating much more knee flexion and makes an already quad-dominant cut up squat much more quad-dominant.

That is nice for these in want of great quad progress or for athletes who need to get used to deeper ranges of knee flexion, together with fight sports activities athletes, energy sports activities athletes, soccer gamers, or sprinters.

Double-Elevated Cut up Squat

If you wish to maximize your mobility and vary of movement, you possibly can elevate each the back and front foot. Basically, you might be combining the FFESS with a Bulgarian cut up squat. Extra vary of movement for each the entrance leg and the again leg can assist to skyrocket your quad and glute gains.

Setting this up might be cumbersome and requires some further house, however when you’ve decided a great arrange and know an efficient distance to set every platform, it ought to be fairly easy every time you’re within the fitness center.

Continuously Requested Questions

What makes the entrance foot elevated cut up squat totally different than the rear foot elevated cut up squat (Bulgarian cut up squat)?

Relying in your construction and mobility degree, the 2 workouts may not be all that totally different. Nevertheless, most individuals will really feel their quads extra in the course of the FFESS. You’ll be able to consider the entrance foot elevated cut up squat as a extra “quad-dominant model” of Bulgarian cut up squats.
FFESS are additionally simpler to setup and usually really feel extra comfy to carry out. Elevating your again foot with Bulgarian cut up squats normally requires extra hip and ankle mobility and generally is a larger problem to take care of steadiness.

Why don’t I see extra folks within the fitness center doing the entrance foot elevated cut up squat?

Bulgarian cut up squats are merely extra fashionable in recent times. They’ve garnered a status for being painful — the “good sort” of ache from post-workout soreness — and extra “hardcore.” They’re a terrific train, however the entrance foot elevated cut up squat is beginning to catch up in reputation due to the rehab world.
Many physiotherapists assign the FFESS as a method to prepare deep ranges of movement with diminished knee ache. Many individuals be taught the motion and find yourself realizing, “Oh, snap, these are nice even when I’m not attempting to rehab my knee due to the gnarly quad pump.”

Single-leg coaching is usually missed in lots of coaching routines. Performing workouts with an elevated vary of movement, even moreso. The FFESS is a simple answer to each of those deficiencies. This complete train will payoff with extra measurement, extra energy, higher mobility, and improved all-around efficiency. You simply must step as much as the problem.


  1. Legg, H. S., Glaister, M., Cleather, D. J., & Goodwin, J. E. (2017). The impact of weightlifting footwear on the kinetics and kinematics of the again squat. Journal of sports activities sciences, 35(5), 508–515.
  2. Seiberl, W., Hahn, D., Energy, G. A., Fletcher, J. R., & Siebert, T. (2021). Editorial: The Stretch-Shortening Cycle of Energetic Muscle and Muscle-Tendon Advanced: What, Why and How It Will increase Muscle Efficiency?. Frontiers in physiology, 12, 693141.
  3. Schoenfeld, B. J., & Grgic, J. (2020). Results of vary of movement on muscle growth throughout resistance coaching interventions: A scientific evaluation. SAGE open drugs, 8, 2050312120901559.

Featured Picture: Steadiness in Movement / YouTube

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