The Petersen Split Squat

The Petersen Split Squat

The Petersen Split Squat is one of two Split Squat variations that I use were the rear leg is the primary mover. In the case of the  Petersen Split Squat the primary task of the exercise is to activate the Vastus medialis

The Petersen Split Squat is named after Canadian Physiotherapist Carl Petersen who traveled with the Canadian Alpine Ski National Team for 15 years and became known for using various exercises variations – most famously the Petersen Stepup – to strengthen the Vastus medialis and that way increase knee stability dramatically which led to a decrease in the very common knee injuries in Alpine SkiingDue to the ratio of concentric to eccentric overload the Petersen Split Squat is not an exercise that will strengten or hypertrophy the Vastus Medialis much. Its a exercise that is excellent to activate the fibers of the Vastus medialis. Which will combined with an exercise group like the squat that overloads the Vastus medialis in the eccentric over a great range, lead to a stronger and bigger Vastus medialis.

The key pointers of the Execution of the Petersen Split Squat

When executing the Petersen Split Squat following pointers are essential to get the desired training effect:

  • Place the shin of the front leg on the edge of a flat bench, so the shin of the front leg is fixed a 90° angle to the floor
  • Turn the toes of the rear leg out by 5° to 15°
  • Bent the knee of the rear leg during the eccentric for about 60°
  • Then extend the knee during the concentric by pressing through the ball of the big toe of the rear leg upwards
  • Fully extended the knee of the rear leg at the top
  • Through the whole movement focus on the rear leg doing the work

Here is a video of the Petersen Split Squat 

How to integrate the Petersen Split Squat into a Training Program

The Petersen Split Squat is a excellent exercise to put in the beginning of the leg workout for 2 to 4 sets of 6 to 15 reps at a fairly fast tempo for the intermediate to advanced lifter to activate the Vastus medialis.

A combination I like to use to specifically activate and train the Vastus medialis which is the primary knee stabilizer in combination withtraining the Hamstrings which are the secondary knee stabilizers is following program:

A DB Petersen Split Squat, 4 sets of 6-8, repetitions, 2011 Tempo, 180s rest
B BB Quad Squat, 4 sets of 6-8 repetitions, 5010 Tempo, 180s rest
C Lying Legcurl, dorsiflex, toes neutral, 4 sets of 6-8 repetitions, 4010 Tempo, 180s rest

With executing the Petersen Split Squat the primary objective is to contract the Vastus medialis in the terminal extension of the knee to activate the Vastus medialis. The better you feel the muscle from rep to rep, and set to set, the better this exercise did its job.

Picture: Roberto Gutierrez, Senior Coach at the JC Simo Human Performance Center in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is demonstrating a Dumbbell Petersen Split Squat right before the YPSI Training Camp in Spring 2019

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