Locomotion is paramount in enabling human beings to effectively respond in space and time to meet different needs. There are 2 million Americans living with an amputation and the majority of those amputations are of the lower limbs. Although current powered prostheses can accommodate walking, and in some cases running, basic functions like hiking or walking on various non-rigid or dynamic terrains are requirements that have yet to be met. This paper focuses on the mechanisms involved during human locomotion, while transitioning from rigid to compliant surfaces such as from pavement to sand, grass or granular media. Utilizing a unique tool, the Variable Stiffness Treadmill (VST), as the platform for human locomotion, rigid to compliant surface transitions are simulated. The analysis of muscular activation during the transition from rigid to compliant surfaces reveals specific anticipatory muscle activation that precedes stepping on the compliant surface. These results are novel and important since the evoked activation changes can be used for altering the powered prosthesis control parameters to adapt to the new surface, and therefore result in significantly increased robustness for smart powered lower limb prostheses.