Before we dive into how to do a Bulgarian split squat, let’s first talk about what it actually is. The Bulgarian split squat is a single leg exercise that targets the hamstrings, glutes, and quads.
Although this exercise does resemble the movement of a basic lunge, it’s quite a bit different. While a lunge requires you use both legs simultaneously, the Bulgarian split squat focuses entirely on one leg at a time.
How Will Bulgarian Squats Benefit My Body?
Bulgarian split squats allow you to effectively train various parts of your lower body. When performed correctly, they help to develop muscles without adding extra stress to your lower back. When done consistently, split squats can also help to correct and even prevent muscle disproportion.
Which Muscles Do Split Squats Work?
Bulgarian split squats are probably one of the best exercises to effectively train and tone the majority of the major muscle groups. Split squats focus attention primarily on the quadriceps.
- Gluteus Maximus
- Adductor Magnus
- Gluteus Medius
- Gluteus Minimus
How to do a bulgarian split squat
As mentioned prior, performing a Bulgarian split squat closely resembles a basic lunge. Although the two exercises share similarities, they are quite different. Due to the fact that split squats are such an effective, yet intense workout, it is important to maintain good technique throughout the duration of the set. Using the incorrect form could lead to serious injuries.
1. Find a foot rest
To perform this exercise you will need something to rest your foot on. A box or bench are both good choices. If you’re an advanced athlete, you can try using a stability ball or TRX cable which will require more balance.
Ideally your back foot should rest at least 4-6 inches off of the ground; or up to knee height.
2. Get into position
Next, get into a lunge position. It is important to also be sure that you are standing upright, with your shoulders back and head forward. For some, figuring out their preference on the leg and foot placement can be a bit challenging.
Some people prefer more of a wide or stretched stance. While others feel more comfortable standing in a more tapered stance.
With your hips square and your body facing forward, lift your back foot and put it on the bench behind you. The majority of your body weight should be on your front leg. You shouldn’t feel any tightening or severe pain in your glutes or knees.
3. Doing a split squat
Once you have found footing that you are comfortable with, begin lowering your body down until your front thigh is horizontal and your foot is in line with your knee.
Try not to allow your knee to overlap your front foot. The latter is an example of an improper technique. Next, thrust back up by pushing against your heel and bringing yourself back to the starting position.
For beginners: work to complete about 5-8 reps before switching to the other side
Reminders and Tips
Always keep good technique in mind when completing any exercise. These tips and reminders should help you effectively and safely complete the bulgarian split squat:
- Start with your body weight before testing out different weights
- Never replace speed for good technique
- Do not allow your knees to overlap your feet when squatting
- Keep your back straight and shoulders square
Bulgarian Split Squat Variations
There are a number of variations you can use to make this exercise more intense. The use of a resistance ball or TRX band is a great way to challenge yourself and kick this exercise up a notch. By using a ball rather than a bench or a set of risers you will create an uneven surface that will require more control and strength from your core muscles.
The second variation would be to hold dumbbells or a medicine ball during the exercise. To use this method, simply hold the dumbbells firmly in each hand with your arms at your side. Or, hold a medicine ball straight out in front.
Bulgarian split squats “with a twist” is another popular variation that many people use to maximize their results and also challenge coordination and balance. For this option, the use of added weight will not be necessary. As you lower your body into the squat simply hold both arms in front with your hands clasped together and twist your torso to either side.