Before any squatting, deadlifting or any other bi-lateral lower body exercise is performed there should be a focus on single-leg training. Single-leg training will address strength differences between right and left sides and can also tell you if there are any other muscular imbalances. For instance, when performing a single-leg exercise if there is a tendency for the knee to buckle in, that usually indicates a weak VMO and glute medius. By knowing this, you are able to work other exercises into your lower body routine in order to address these imbalances.
One of the most basic (and this is where I like to start with all clients, basic) exercises is the split squat. The basic split squat is done with both feet in contact with the floor. Using body weight alone is hard enough for most people. Once you are able to execute 12-15 reps on each side perfectly, then you can start adding in some dumbbell or barbell resistance.
You’ll notice in this picture that my knee is traveling over the toes of my front foot. And most of you have probably heard that the knees should not travel over the toes with any exercise. Nonsense. If you watch people move throughout the course of a day or during a game, you will see the knees travel over the toes a good amount of the time. So why are we told to not let the knees travel over the toes? And if we’re told not to let the knees travel over the toes when training, what’s going to happen in a real life situation when the knee travels over the toes? You’re going to have a hard time getting out of that position, correct? I’ll let you think about it.
In any case, use the split squat as a training tool. Not only to get strong, but to address what is weak.