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Building strength for soccer with the rear foot elevated split squat

This is an excerpt from Complete Conditioning for Soccer by Ryan Alexander.

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

Purpose

The rear foot elevated split squat (RFESS) is one of the more complex movements in this book. It highlights the importance of single-leg movements and strength development while still maintaining a high degree of safety and simplicity within the movement. The RFESS recruits the muscles of the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings but emphasizes the single-leg balance and coordination more than any of the previous exercises.

Equipment

  • Bench, padding, or a designated elevated surface
  • Dumbbells

Setup

Many weight rooms feature an attachment on a squat rack that looks like a circular pad that can comfortably elevate a foot behind the body. If a pad isn't available, find an elevated surface athletes can comfortably place a foot on. The height of the surface directly determines the degree of difficulty of the exercise. Those who are new to this exercise should start with a lower surface and progress to a higher surface. The elevated surface should not exceed the height of the player's knee. The top of the foot will be in
contact with the platform, so I recommended a curved or padded platform to complement the bony surface of the foot. Because this exercise requires balance, I recommend clearing the surrounding area of other apparatus.

Starting Position

Stand facing away from the elevated surface. Balance on one leg and place the other foot, sole up, on the elevated surface behind you. Extend the standing leg out in front of the rear foot so that when you squat, there is enough room for the knee of the elevated foot to drop to the ground with the upper leg perpendicular in the bottom position. The front foot should be completely flush to the ground; your weight should be on the front foot, mainly through the heel. Keep the upper body upright with the shoulders pulled back, arms at the sides, and head in a neutral position as shown in figure 4.14a.

Figure 4.14 Rear foot elevated split squat: (a) starting position; and (b) squat.

Figure 4.14 Rear foot elevated split squat: (a) starting position; and (b) squat.

Procedure

Bend at the knee and hip of the front leg. Keep the upper body upright throughout the entire movement. Flex the front leg until the hip and knee are at 90 degrees and the thigh of the back leg is perpendicular to the ground and the back knee is just above the ground (figure 4.14b). Push up through the heel to return to the starting position. All eccentric or downward movements and concentric or upward movements must be slow and consistent in speed. The transition at the bottom should be smooth, with no jerking or ballistic actions. This prevents any unnecessary shifts in center of mass that may cause a loss of balance.

Variation: Weighted Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

Simply add dumbbells to the RFESS. Be sure to use equal weight, one dumbbell held in each hand at your sides, with the arms straight and the elbows fully extended.