A recent study in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation (McCurdy, et al 2010) compared the muscle activity of a Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat and a Bi-Lateral Squat.
Interesting findings showed that the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat demonstrated greater Glute Medius and Hamstring activation when compared to the Bi-Lateral Squat. The Bi-Lateral Squat did however, have more Quadriceps activation.
These results are interesting for golfers due to the key roles of the Glute Medius and Hamstrings during the golf swing. The Hamstring muscles play an important role in maintaining good posture during the swing. Therefore, if you do not have strong, yet flexible Hamstrings, you might come out of/lose your posture, causing you to hit shots fat or thin.
The Glute Medius helps to rotate and stabilise the hips during the swing. Again, they can help maintain good posture throughout the swing too. However, when they are not doing their job, swing faults such as the sway or slide can occur. A study from the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy has shown that greater Glute Medius and Glute Maximus strength can help hit the ball further (Callaway et al 2012).
Therefore, in order to increase driving distance and to improve your golf swing, you might be better off trading your Bi-Lateral Squats for Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats. If this is a new exercise to you, start by performing 2 sets of 10 reps each side with only your bodyweight.
Both exercises can be found within this Youtube video HERE on the glutes for golf.
Additionally, it is thought that the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat is a safer option for the low back… a common problem area for golfers!
It has also been suggested that the external obliques are more active during the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat, compared to the Bi-Lateral Squat due to the reduced balance in the frontal plane of the unilateral exercise (McCurdy et al 2010). And the external obliques are important in the golf swing not only for their action to maintain good posture of the low back and pelvis but for creating club head speed!
All-in-all, I would recommend using both exercises, as both have pro’s and cons and are great additions to any golf strength and conditioning programme.