Is it high on your wish list to have stronger legs?
The modest squat has been a fitness favorite since someone decided to bulk up their legs, and because of its longevity, there are several varieties of squats you can incorporate into your training program. However, without a split squat, no squat repertoire is complete. Try the elevated split squat/single leg squat to finish off your leg day.
The Bulgarian split squat is a sort of single-leg squat that is sure to improve your lower body. The Bulgarian Split Squat is a fitness exercise that is both obscure and underappreciated. This exercise, performed with one leg behind you and elevated off the ground, targets many of the same muscles as a regular squat, but with a focus on the quadriceps.
It is recognized as the king of single-leg exercises by those who are familiar with it because of its capacity to improve control, balance, power, and strength.
How To Do Bulgarian Split Squat
To get started, follow these steps:
- Stand 2 feet in front of a knee-level bench or step, this will be your starting position.
- Place the top of your right foot on the bench by lifting your right leg up behind you. Your feet should still be shoulder-width apart, and your right foot should be far enough in front of the bench to allow you to lunge comfortably – hop around a bit to find the proper location. If a closer foot position works for you, just make sure your left knee doesn’t go over the line of your toes as you lower down.
- Roll your shoulders back and lean slightly forward at the waist while engaging your core. Begin to descend down on your left leg, bending the knee.
- Stop before your knee falls over your toes if you’re doing a quad-dominant Bulgarian split squat. Stop when your left thigh is parallel to the ground if you’re doing a glute-dominant Bulgarian split squat.
- Return to standing by pushing up through your left foot, utilizing the strength of your quads and hamstrings.
- Repeat on this leg for the appropriate amount of reps, then swap and place the left foot on the bench.
What Does Bulgarian Split Squat Work – Muscles Worked In Bulgarian Squat
The Bulgarian Split Squat works your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, abductor muscles, and calves.
Second, this exercise puts your abdominal muscles and spinal erectors to the test.
The Bulgarian Split Squat targets somewhat different muscles depending on where your feet are placed, the weight you use, and how you hold it. Standing near to your elevated surface will emphasize your quadriceps (though keep in mind your knees), but standing further away will put greater strain on your hip flexors.
Holding weights above your chest, as in an overhead squat or a back- or front-loaded Bulgarian Split Squat puts more tension on your core muscles.
Benefits of Bulgarian Split Squat
Helps To Build Muscle Size And Strength
The Bulgarian split squat strengthens your quads, glutes, and adductors in a solid stance across a lengthy range of motion. That’s a fantastic muscle-building formula!
Works Excellent At Preventing Muscle Imbalances
The Bulgarian split squat can be utilized to detect and correct muscular imbalances because you only work one leg at a time. Work on bringing your weak side up to par with your strong side.
Builds Strength In A Staggered Position
Strong legs are beneficial not only for athletes but also in the day-to-day activities of an active lifestyle. In athletics or other activities, how do we frequently use our legs? One leg at a time, that’s correct. The Bulgarian split squat is a terrific supplement to your usual squat routine since it requires you to exercise in a single leg stance that mimics striding, leaping, or climbing a hill.
Improve Your Balance And Coordination
Balance is something we frequently take for granted until we lose it. You may greatly enhance your coordination and balance by performing the Bulgarian split squat.
Improved Knee Control
In athletics, a lack of knee control is an injury waiting to happen. The Bulgarian split squat is one of the most effective exercises for improving knee control and positional awareness.
De-stress Your Spine
Want to strengthen your leg muscles without putting too much strain on your back? You can engage your leg and glute muscles without needing to lift a hefty barbell over your shoulders with the Bulgarian split squat.
Bulgarian Squats Common Mistakes
Using a surface that is too high: there’s no need to raise your back foot too high, and if you do, your technique will suffer.
Driving with your back leg: this exercise should primarily focus on your front leg, with the back leg serving merely to provide support and balance. Ensure that you are lifting the majority of your weight with your front leg.
Lifting the front heel: Throughout the exercise, keep your front foot flat on the floor and your heel grounded. To correct this flaw, adjust the location of your front leg in relation to the elevated surface.
Leaning forward: keep your upper body’s angle upright throughout the process. You may need to modify your leg positioning or lessen the weight you’re trying to lift if you’re tipping forward.
What To Do Instead Of Bulgarian Split Squats – Bulgarian Split Squat Alternatives And Variations
If you can’t or don’t want to do Bulgarian split squats (let’s face it, they’re tough! ), there are lots of options. Below we will discuss five best leg exercises that you can do in place of the Bulgarian split squat.
1. Single Leg Hip Thrusts
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be roughly hip-width apart.
- Allow your body weight to shift to your supporting leg as you lift one foot off the floor, but keep your hips upright (don’t let the hip of your elevated leg sink down). You can either maintain your raised knee bent or straighten it out.
- Squeeze the glutes and hamstrings of your supporting leg while pressing your upper back into the floor to propel your hips upward. Push yourself up until your hips are fully extended. Don’t over-arch your spine; instead, draw a straight line from your shoulders to your hips, diagonal to the floor.
- Lower your hips to the floor with control.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 until your set is complete. Then repeat with the opposing leg.
2. Split Squat
Split squat focuses on your quads and glutes and you can do it to challenge one leg at a time.
- Step forward with one foot and back with the other. Place the majority of your weight on your front leg. Raise the heel of your foot at the back.
- Keep your hips in line with your shoulders while bending your knees and lowering your hips all the while making sure your toes are pointing forwards.
- Lower your back knee down until it is slightly above the floor.
- Return to the beginning position by squeezing your glutes.
- Begin with a single set of 8–12 reps. Repeat with the opposite leg.
3. Elevated Single-Leg Hip Thrust
- Place your upper back against a bench, couch, or chair while sitting on the floor. Bend your knees and set your feet about hip-width apart on the floor.
- Use your arms to lift yourself up a little – you should be pressing your upper back into the bench, supporting yourself with your arms and keeping your torso floating over the ground with your legs. Your hips should be bent and your butt should be near to the ground at this stage. To support your neck, you can move your hands behind your head.
- Raise one foot off the floor. Your bodyweight should transfer to your supporting leg. Extend your non-supporting leg out in front of you to avoid dragging your foot on the ground. This is where you’ll begin.
- To lift your hips, drive into the heel of your supporting foot and clench your glutes. Make a horizontal line with your torso by completely extending your hips. Ensure that your right and left hips are in sync.
- Lower your hips back down with control.
- Repeat steps 4–5 until you’ve completed your set, then switch legs.
4. Reverse Lunges
- Place your feet hip-width apart or shoulder-width apart. Engage your core and place your arms in a comfortable position. You can keep your hands at your sides, on your hips, or in front of your chest in a double fist.
- With your right leg, take a step backward. The distance will vary from person to person, but you should step back far enough so that your knee does not extend too far over your toes and near enough so that you can fully extend your back knee.
- Lower your body by planting your rear foot. Allow your knee to contact the floor lightly, or stop just short of it, making a 90-degree angle with your front leg. Avoid slamming your knee into the ground.
- Maintain the majority of your weight in your front leg and utilize it to bring your body back to the center. Keep your knee in line with your toes and drive through your heel.
- Repeat the action with your opposite leg until you’ve completed your set.
5. Lateral Lunges
The side lunge or lateral lunge develops the glutes, hamstrings, and quads in the same way that a standard lunge does, but from a different angle. It’s a great exercise since it focuses on the sides of the glutes, which are home to many of your hip-stabilizing muscles.
The lateral lunge works both the outer and inner thighs, which can be harder to train during daily tasks but are crucial for improving balance and thus proves itself unique in its working than many leg press alternatives.
How to do it:
- Place both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart and engage your core. This is where you’ll begin.
- Inhale. Plant your right foot on the floor, and take a huge stride to your left with your left foot off the floor. As you set your foot down on the ground, bend your left knee and keep your right leg straight.
- Exhale. Extend your left leg and balance your body weight on your right foot. To return to the start, step in with your left foot.
- Inhale. Release your right foot and take a big step to the right, keeping your left foot on the floor. Bend your right knee as you put your foot on the floor, keeping your left leg straight.
- Exhale. Transfer your weight to your left foot by extending your right knee. Return to the starting position by stepping your right foot inwards.
- Alternate between the left and right sides.
The Bulgarian split squat is an excellent unilateral (one-sided) exercise for leg strength, coordination, and balance.
This exercise can be done without any external load, with dumbbells or kettlebells in your hands, against your chest, or with a barbell on your shoulders. You may unload your spine while still efficiently strengthening your legs and glutes by holding the weights in your hands, which can help you keep your training during times of injury.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.