Exercise of the Week: Barbell Drop Split Squat

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Today’s guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance coach, Ethan Dyer. 

The Barbell Drop Split Squat is a lift we’ve been using with some of our stiffer athletes this time of year (transition from spring to summer season) at CSP. While it can be done with a safety squat bar, goblet set-up, or back squat position, this video depicts the anterior loaded (front squat grip ) version:

A majority of the high level arms we see are stiffer through their lower bodies, especially in terms of internal rotation. This is usually fine if they have adequate external rotation elsewhere – allowing enough range of motion on the mound to get into and out of positions and produce velocity/spin, ideally without mandating undesirable consequences up the chain (i.e., excessive spine or shoulder motion).

The athlete in this case doesn’t have the ROM to get into the bottom of a split squat or reverse lunge without discomfort or suboptimal mechanics, so we use the drop squat instead. By momentarily unweighting the pelvis on the front side (relative to the backside), he finds a position of IR at the bottom that he otherwise wouldn’t be able to. This is a great example of how we can still work on traditional output qualities without compromising on positions.

An ancillary benefit here is finding a jump from eccentric to concentric orientation and from ER to IR as quickly as possible, which we otherwise don’t see a ton of in the gym – especially with classic “lower body” lifts. Additionally, an athlete has to work to quickly develop force – which typifies the front hip pull-back that takes place with hitting and pitching.

All of this comes together to make the drop split squat a great choice for baseball players this time of year. We can effectively work around dramatic ROM issues that would otherwise take months to clean up (save it for the offseason), while keeping our guys athletic and letting them get into and out of important positions with load/velocity in the gym. If you have someone who’s in-season or a few weeks out, stick to 3-4 sets of 3-4 reps per side.

About the Author

Ethan Dyer serves as a Strength & Conditioning coach at Cressey Sports Performance. He started as a client at CSP and eventually went on to intern at CSP-MA. Following another internship at Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training, Ethan joined the CSP-MA team. He was a pitcher at the College of the Holy Cross before transferring to Endicott College to complete his undergraduate work with a major in Exercise Science and minor in Psychology. A Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Ethan has been a volunteer with both the Miracle League and Special Olympics, and has a passion for working with young athletes to help them fall in love with training while avoiding injury. You can follow him on Instagram at @Ethan___Dyer.

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