Are your dumbbell quad workouts becoming stagnant? Is your dumbbell hamstring workout lacking results? If so, time to throw in an exercise wildcard to get your quad and hamstring growth and strength back on track. Welcome to the Contralateral Dumbbell Split Squat, a member of the Split Squat family and a direct descendant of the Barbell Squat.
From the outset, this dumbbell quad exercise doesn't look anything special, but on closer inspection, and only after experiencing a few sets will you realize how much of a beast of an exercise movement this is.
In this article, I’m going to open the lid on this extraordinary lower body exercise and break down the movement with helpful cues and tips to get you started. After you get your head around this dumbbell Split Squat variation, I’m going to up the ante with two progressions to take your lower body development and core strength to the next level.
I’m Psymon H., the 50 something-year-old war-horse, making his name from improving physiques and growing natural muscle with minimal equipment.
First, before we get carried away with the ins and outs of this exercise, let’s tackle the question, what is contralateral loading?
Contralateral Training has been around for many years and was first used in sports injury and rehab work. It’s the notion that training one side of the body increases strength on the opposite side.
In leg training terms, contralateral loading is when the weight is held on the opposite side to the forward leg. This is the opposite of ipsilateral training, where the weight is held on the same side as the forward leg.
What makes this style of training very challenging is the fact that your core has to work harder at keeping you upright during the exercise. Each side of the body will counter translator and rotational forces created by the movement which makes it a little easier to maintain proper form.
You can add this exercise to either your dumbbell workouts for quads or your Hamstring dumbbell workouts. If you want to focus on the quad muscles during this split squat, start by taking a slightly smaller stance, and at the bottom of the movement, drive up through the ball of the foot.
When you want to use the split squat on your dumbbell hamstring workout you would use a longer split stance and at the bottom of the movement, you would push through the heel of your front foot.
Here’s a dumbbell quad workout you could use to include the Contralateral Split Squat. (I have left links for all of the other dumbbell quad exercises)
For each exercise, we’re shooting for 10 repetitions on every set, aiming to leave no more than 2 reps in reserve. How this works is if after the first set you have 3 or more repetitions in reserve, meaning that you could have performed more than 2 reps after reaching 10 repetitions you add weight to set number two and continue accessing every set in this manner.
If after set one you have less than two repetitions in reserve, meaning that after completing 10 reps, you feel as if you could have only one or fewer reps, you will take weight away for set number two and continue accessing every set.
After the completion of set one you felt that you have 2 reps in reserve, meaning that you felt as if you could have only completed 2 more repetitions to failure, you keep the same weight for the next set and continue to monitor your sets in this manner.
Exercise 1: Contralateral Split Squat x 3 sets x 10 reps (using a smaller stance and driving through the ball of your front foot.)
Exercise 2: Dumbbell Toe Squats x 3 sets x 10 repetitions
Exercise 3: Spring-Loaded Lunges x 3 sets x 10 repetitions
Exercise 1: Contralateral Split Squat x 3 sets x 15 repetitions (using a wider split stance and driving through the heel of your front foot.)
Exercise 2: Lying Dumbbell Hamstring Curl x 3 sets x 15 repetitions.
Exercise 3: Toes Up Dumbbell RDLs x 3 sets x 15 repetitions.