ATG Split Squat: How to Perform, Benefits & Expert Tips 

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The ATG split squat is a highly underrated exercise that comes with a ton of benefits over other squat variations. 

However, there are also a ton of common mistakes people make with the ATG split squat, reducing its effectiveness and even increasing the chances of injury. This is why knowing how to perform it correctly is so important. 

Let’s dive right into it and take a look at how to perform the ATG split squat, the benefits that come from performing the ATG split squat, and some expert tips that can help you master this exercise. 

How to Do the ATG Split Squat 

Step 1 — Unrack Your Bar 

To begin the ATG Split Squat, you’ll need a barbell. Start by unracking the barbell from a squat rack or power rack, positioning it securely on your upper back, just like you would for a regular squat. 

Make sure the barbell is positioned comfortably on your traps, and grip it firmly with both hands. 

Step 2 — Split Your Feet 

With the barbell securely on your back, take a step forward with one foot and a step backward with the other, creating a split stance. 

Your front foot should be positioned a few feet in front of your body, while your back foot should be aligned with your hips or slightly wider. 

Maintain good balance throughout the exercise by distributing your weight evenly between both feet. 

Step 3 — Sink Forward 

Once you’re in the split stance, you’re ready to begin the movement. Slowly lower your body by bending both knees simultaneously. 

Aim to lower yourself until your back knee gently touches the ground or hovers slightly above it, ensuring you achieve an “ass-to-grass” (ATG) depth. 

Keep your torso upright and your chest lifted throughout the entire movement. 

ATG Split Squat Sets and Reps` 

The recommended sets and reps for ATG Split Squats depend on your fitness level and goals. If you’re a beginner, start with 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions per leg. 

As you become more proficient, you can increase the intensity by adding more sets or reps. 

Alternatively, if you’re aiming for strength, you can incorporate heavier weights and lower reps, such as 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions. 

Common ATG Split Squat Mistakes 

Cutting Your Range of Motion 

One of the most common mistakes people make during ATG Split Squats is not achieving the full range of motion

To reap the maximum benefits of this exercise, it’s crucial to lower yourself until your back knee gently touches the ground. 

Cutting your range of motion short by only partially descending limits the effectiveness of the movement and reduces the activation of key muscle groups. 

Too Much Weight on the Back Leg 

Another mistake is placing too much weight on the back leg. Remember to distribute your weight evenly between your front and back foot.

This ensures that both legs are engaged throughout the exercise and prevents excessive strain on the back leg, which could lead to improper form and increased risk of injury. 

Restricted Knee Travel 

Maintaining proper knee alignment is essential during ATG Split Squats. Avoid allowing your front knee to collapse inward or shift too far forward past your toes. 

These movements can place excessive stress on the knee joint and increase the risk of injury. Instead, focus on keeping your knee in line with your toes throughout the entire movement. 

ATG Split Squat Variations 

Front-Foot-Elevated ATG Split Squat 

The front-foot-elevated ATG Split Squat is a variation that places greater emphasis on the front leg. By elevating the front foot on a step or platform, you increase the range of motion and intensity of the exercise. 

This variation targets the quads and glutes even more intensely, providing an excellent challenge for those looking to push their limits. 

Dumbbell ATG Split Squat 

If you don’t have access to a barbell, the dumbbell ATG Split Squat is a great alternative. Instead of using a barbell, hold a dumbbell in each hand, allowing them to hang by your sides. 

This variation provides a similar challenge to the barbell version and allows for greater freedom of movement. 

ATG Split Squat Alternatives 

Bulgarian Split Squat 

The Bulgarian Split Squat is an effective alternative to the ATG Split Squat. It involves elevating the back foot on a bench or step, placing greater emphasis on the front leg. 

The Bulgarian Split Squat engages similar muscle groups as the ATG Split Squat and can be a suitable substitution or complementary exercise. 

The ATG split squat vs Bulgarian split squat debate rages strong, and if you are looking for a good ATG split squat alternative, you could not do better than its number 1 rival. 

Step-Up 

The Step-Up is another excellent alternative to the ATG Split Squat. It involves stepping onto a raised platform or bench with one foot and driving through the heel to elevate the body. 

This exercise targets the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, providing a different stimulus to the muscles compared to the Split Squat variations. 

Split Snatch 

The Split Snatch is an advanced Olympic weightlifting movement that incorporates the split stance similar to the ATG Split Squat. 

However, it involves the explosive action of lifting a barbell overhead from the ground. 

The Split Snatch primarily targets the shoulders, back, and legs, and requires a high level of skill and coordination. 

Muscles Worked by the ATG Split Squat 

Quads 

The ATG Split Squat is a fantastic exercise for targeting the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh. As you descend into the squat, your quads work hard to control the movement and provide stability. 

The deeper you go into the squat, the greater the activation of the quads, leading to increased strength and muscle development. 

Glutes 

The gluteal muscles, including the gluteus maximus and medius, are also heavily engaged during the ATG Split Squat. 

As you lower your body, the glutes work to extend the hip joint and bring you back up to the starting position. 

This exercise helps build strong and shapely glutes, contributing to overall lower body strength and aesthetics. 

Core 

While the primary focus of the ATG Split Squat is on the legs, the core muscles play a supportive role throughout the movement. 

Your abdominal muscles, obliques, and lower back work together to stabilize your body and maintain proper posture during the exercise. 

Engaging your core throughout the ATG Split Squat helps develop functional strength and enhances overall stability. 

Benefits of the ATG Split Squat 

Great for Hip Mobility & Adductors

The ATG Split Squat promotes hip mobility by requiring a wide range of motion. As you sink into the squat, your hip flexors and extensors are stretched, improving their flexibility over time. 

This increased hip mobility can benefit daily activities and other exercises that involve hip movement, such as running, jumping, and weightlifting. 

Builds Your Quadriceps, Glutes & Hamstrings

The ATG Split Squat is a highly effective exercise for building strength and muscle mass in the quadriceps and glutes. 

By challenging these large muscle groups, you stimulate growth and enhance their functional capabilities. Strong quads and glutes contribute to improved athletic performance, lower body power, and overall lower body aesthetics. 

Improves Ankle Mobility 

Performing the ATG Split Squat requires stability and mobility in the ankle joint. As you descend into the squat, your ankles must flex and extend to accommodate the movement. 

Over time, this exercise can help improve ankle mobility, making it easier to perform various activities that involve ankle flexibility and stability. 

Who Should Do the ATG Split Squat 

If You’re Inflexible 

If you struggle with flexibility, the ATG Split Squat can be a beneficial exercise for you. It encourages deep stretching of the hip flexors and extensors, which can help improve your overall flexibility over time. 

By regularly incorporating ATG Split Squats into your routine, you’ll gradually increase your range of motion and unlock tight muscles, leading to improved flexibility and joint mobility. 

Weightlifters 

Weightlifters can greatly benefit from incorporating ATG Split Squats into their training regimen. This exercise targets key muscle groups involved in weightlifting, such as the quads, glutes, and core. 

The ATG Split Squat mimics the split stance often used in weightlifting movements like the snatch and clean and jerk, making it a functional exercise that translates well to explosive lifting. 

Bodybuilders 

For bodybuilders, the ATG Split Squat provides an excellent way to target and develop the quads and glutes, which are essential for lower body aesthetics. 

By incorporating this exercise into your leg day routine, you can add variety and intensity to your training, stimulating muscle growth and creating a more well-rounded physique. 

Making Strides 

The ATG Split Squat is a valuable exercise for anyone looking to make progress in their fitness journey. 

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, this exercise can challenge and improve your strength, mobility, and stability. 

By consistently practicing ATG Split Squats and gradually progressing in weight and intensity, you’ll make significant strides in your lower body strength and overall fitness level. 

ATG Split Equipment 

To perform the ATG Split Squat, you’ll need a barbell and a squat rack or power rack. The barbell should be loaded with weights that suit your strength and fitness level. 

Additionally, you may require appropriate footwear for stability and comfort during the exercise. Remember to select a weight that allows you to maintain proper form and execute the movement safely. 

ATG Split Squat Regression 

If you find the ATG Split Squat too challenging initially, there are regression options available to help you build strength and technique gradually. 

One such regression is performing the exercise without weights or with lighter dumbbells. 

By reducing the load, you can focus on perfecting your form, balance, and range of motion before progressing to heavier weights. 

ATG Split Squat Progression 

As you become more proficient in the ATG Split Squat, you can gradually progress the exercise to continue challenging yourself. 

This can involve increasing the weight on the barbell, adding additional sets or reps, or trying advanced variations like the front-foot-elevated ATG Split Squat. 

The key is to progress at a pace that suits your fitness level and allows for gradual improvement without sacrificing proper form and safety. 

ATG Split Squat – FAQs 

What Is ATG Split Squat Good For? 

The ATG split squat is good for building leg size and strength as well as for improving flexibility and mobility. 

What Is The Difference Between ATG Split Squat And Lunge? 

The difference between the ATG split squat and lunge is that lunges are performed in motion, either walking forwards or backwards, while the ATG split squat is static. 

Is ATG Good For Building Muscle? 

Yes, the ATG squat is good for building muscle. 

Going lower in the squat increases range of motion and produces more hypertrophy than half squats. 

How To Do A Proper ATG Split Squat? 

  1. Set up by placing a barbell securely on your upper back and position your feet in a split stance, one foot forward and one foot back. 
  2. Lower your body by bending both knees simultaneously until your back knee gently touches the ground or hovers slightly above it. 
  3. Maintain an upright torso and chest lifted throughout the movement, ensuring proper posture. 
  4. Drive through the heel of your front foot to push yourself back up to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat the movement on the opposite side by switching your foot positions and complete the desired number of repetitions. 

What Does “ATG” Stand For?  

“ATG” stands for “ass to grass” which refers to going as low on a squat as possible. 

 Are ATG Split Squats Bad For My Knees? 

No, ATG split squats are not bad for your knees. 

In fact, they can actually help protect the knees. 

However, if you do experience pain during the movement, you might want to switch to a different variation that causes no pain. 

Make sure you also do a proper warm up, doing stretches like the pancake stretch to reduce the chances of injury. 

What is an ATG split squat?

The ATG Split Squat is a bodyweight exercise associated with Ben Patrick’s Athletic Truth Group (ATG) that addresses knee pain and poor ankle mobility. This calisthenics movement involves a deep range of motion, focusing on lowering the back knee toward the ground while keeping the front knee bent at a 90-degree angle.

Implementing the “Toes Guy” principle, proper foot positioning, particularly the front heel, is crucial for optimal gains and effective engagement of the calf muscles, adductors, tendons, and ligaments. The ATG Split Squat, requiring no mandatory equipment, is an excellent addition to a workout routine, offering numerous benefits and strengthening the lower body.

What is the ATG method?

The ATG Method, devised by Ben Patrick of the Athletic Truth Group (ATG), is a comprehensive fitness approach emphasizing deep ranges of motion to unlock the body’s capabilities. Centered around bodyweight exercises and calisthenics, the method addresses knee pain and poor ankle mobility. A key component of the ATG Method is the ATG Split Squat, promoting better gains and flexibility by working through a profound range of motion.

Coaching tips from the “Toes Guy” stress the importance of proper foot positioning, particularly the front heel, to maximize the effectiveness of the workout routine. The ATG Method advocates for using resistance bands as optional equipment to enhance connective tissue strength, contributing to overall athleticism.

What is the ATG position?

The ATG Position, associated with Ben Patrick’s Athletic Truth Group (ATG), refers to the stance utilized in exercises to achieve a deep range of motion. Emphasized in the ATG Split Squat, this position involves lowering the back knee towards the ground while ensuring the front knee bends at a 90-degree angle.

The ATG Position, aligning with the “Toes Guy” principle, underscores the significance of proper foot positioning, particularly the front heel, to optimize benefits. This stance, integrated into workout routines that may include resistance bands for added challenge, contributes to better gains, strengthened connective tissue, and improved lower body athleticism, addressing issues such as knee pain and poor ankle mobility.

We hope we have been able to give you a better insight into the ATG split squat. 

If you follow all of the advice we have given you in this article, we have no doubt that you master this exercise in no time at all. 

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