The Bulgarian Split-Squat

Bulgarian Split Squats Up or Starting PositionAlso known as:
Split Squat
Strength Training
Complete 4 sets of 12 reps
Rest Period:
30 seconds rest in between sets
Main muscles worked:
Gluteus Maximux, Quadriceps, HamStrings and Hip Flexors
Bulgarian Split Squats Down or Finish Position

Want to strengthen your lower body but don’t love to squat? Many coaches and athletes today are ditching the traditional back-squat or front-squat for this unilateral leg strengthening exercise and for good reason. Back pain is one of the most common injuries you’ll hear people complain of from the most beginner lifter to the elite athletes. Most of the time this can be rectified with correcting form or resting an injury but if traditional squatting is still keeping you from reaching your best lifts try out the Bulgarian split squat. This exercise keeps the weight load from stressing the lower back, targets the quads, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors and puts emphasis on single-leg stability and balance.

To set up the exercise you need a flat surface to rest your back foot on (an adjustable bench is the best option). The distance you set your feet up at will be based on what feels comfortable to you

  • Standing too far away from the bench can cause hip flexor pain and lead to excessive arching of the back. You want to feel a good stretch in your hip flexor and hamstring but if its painful you should move closer to the bench (also lowering the height might help).
  • Standing closer to the bench puts more emphasis on the quads, however being too close can cause knee pain and make it difficult to keep your chest upright
  • Finding the right stance will take trial and error. Figure out what stance is most comfortable for you and complete a few reps without weight

Next You’ll want to choose how to hold your weight

  • For beginners I suggest using a dumbbell in a goblet hold to keep the load centered which will help you with balance
  • When ready to go heavier you can hold dumbbells or kettlebells at your sides or use a loaded barbell
  1. To perform the exercise lower yourself so your back knee goes as far to the floor as comfortable, getting a good stretch with your hip flexors. From the bottom drive your hips up pushing through your heel that is planted on the floor
  2. his is a great exercise to exploit the time under tension rule for maximum muscle growth. Perform 12 reps each leg, keeping slight tension in your working leg through the entire movement (i.e. don’t lock out and relax at the top of the movement)
This exercise is not advised for people with lower back problems or hernias.
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