Split squats look innocent enough when you observe them, but as soon as you attempt the movement you realize that you've entered hell!
Split squats do an amazing job of working your quads. Depending upon how you insert them into your workout and how you handle the set and rep scheme, you will provoke many different reactions from your body.
How to Execute a Split Squat
Load up a barbell in a squat rack and put a bench behind you. Put the bar across your shoulders as though you are doing a standard front squat. Step back and put one foot up on the bench and the other in front of you like a lunge position. Descend down by bending the leg not on the bench, but keep the other foot firmly attached to the bench. Rise back up and then repeat the motion for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Moderate Reps and Moderate Sets
One approach is to use 12 repetitions with 3 sets. When I mention how many repetitions please note that I am referring to each side. Do 12 repetitions with your weak side and then 12 repetitions with your strong side. Repeat this for 3 sets. You will find out that your legs will be shaking and you will have a hard time walking. The DOMs sets in almost immediately.
As Few Sets as Possible
Another approach is to pick a number of repetitions (like 40) and then aim to complete that amount of repetitions with the fewest number of sets possible. This forces a higher volume into your workout. It can be very painful, but you will see results if you push hard enough.
Split Squats After Back Squats
By inserting split squats directly after back squats in your standard workout you will find them much harder to complete. The back squats will sufficiently tire out your quads so that the split squats make them work even harder. This is a method I strongly recommend.
Split Squats Before Leg Extensions
Yet another way to insert split squats into your workout is to do them prior to leg extensions. It will make the leg extensions burn like never before. Give it a try.