The Bulgarian Split Squat To Build Bigger Quads & Glutes

Combination exercises are great for stimulating new muscle growth.

You can target more than one major muscle group in one exercise.

This gives your muscles the stimulation to grow in size and boosts your recovery and results.

You can’t argue with anyone who believes the squat is the best compound leg exercise.

This works your quads and glutes in one go.

However, there are other highly effective options.

One of these is the bulgarian split squat.

Bulgarian split squat stimulates similar leg muscles to the squat.

However, the bulgarian split squat foundation places significant tension on your abdominal muscles.

This can help you increase your functional strength.

What Is The Bulgarian Split Squat And How Does It Work?

What Is The Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a squat variation where one leg is raised on a surface while the other does a squat and receives most of its load.

This unilateral single-leg exercise targets quadriceps muscles, glutes, and hamstrings in a split position.

This exercise is recommended for advanced to intermediate athletes.

However, beginners can perform Bulgarian Split Squats at a lower elevation without adding weights to improve their control and body awareness.

What’s The Point?

The benefits of the bulgarian split squat are numerous.

It is a lower-body exercise that strengthens the legs.

You will also need to keep your balance by using a single-leg exercise.

The Bulgarian split squat is a great exercise for many muscles, even though it works the same muscles as traditional squats.

Traditional squats place a significant load on your lower back, leading to injury.

The Bulgarian split squat removes that burden and focuses on your legs.

You may have back problems, or you might not!

This move could be a great choice for you.

How Do You Do Bulgarian Split Squats?

How to Do a Bulgarian Split Squat

Stand straight up with your back against a table, a step, a chair, or a reclining couch.

To lift the bench, shift your weight onto one leg.

Keep your hips straight, your back straight, and your core tight.

Then, tilt your torso forward so that your knees touch the ground and then sink down.

Frazier says to keep your glutes engaged and your hips straight.

To reverse the movement, push through your front heel and pull up to come back down.

Frazier recommends doing at least three sets of each leg.

A wider stance will help you focus on your glutes.

For quads focus, move your front foot closer towards the bench.

How to do the Bulgarian Split Squat (both methods)

There are two types of rear-elevated split squats.

Both versions are valid for different purposes.

Let’s discuss ’em.

Option 1

Bulgarian Split Squat Option

#1 The Most Consistent

This is the type of split squat that you’ll see in most gyms.

This is easy to do wrong, but it’s also easy to scale up for knee pain.

Setup

A box, bench, or other stable platforms should be knee-height.

You should not pick a bench too high.

Place your back foot on the bench and your front foot in the space between the bench’s top and bottom.

This version has a key cue:

Your weight should be in the middle of your foot, not too far back in your heel, and not too far forward in your toes.

Your stance width should not be too wide for a split-jerk.

Square

Start at the top by bending your hips forward and descending into a squat.

Then, press your shoelaces into the bench to act as a kickstand.

Keep moving straight up and down throughout the movement.

Don’t rock backward or forwards.

Concentrate on placing 90% of the pressure under your front foot.

Add Weight

You can test your single-leg strength with a dumbbell or kettlebell held at your chest.

You can also carry a pair of weights at your side or load a barbell onto your back.

There are many options to relieve pain.

Option 2

What Are Bulgarian Split Squat Options

#2 The Og

This version is believed to be the original one taught by the Bulgarian weightlifting teams.

This version uses a lower platform, slightly different feet configurations, and different angles to the hips/knees.

The Poliquin split is when your back foot touches the ground.

Setup

A stable platform should be at least six inches above the ground.

For this purpose, a 45lb plate is a good choice.

Instead of tying your shoes on the platform, place the ball of the back foot on the platform.

Your front foot should be extended enough to allow you to squat down without your heel touching the ground.

Square

Keep your chest high and your front foot flat.

Now, do a squat.

Keep your front knee above your toes until your hamstring touches the calf.

Instead of straight up and down, try to keep your forward lunge longer.

Keep your back knee above the ground, and then lift yourself out of the squat position by pressing into your front foot and straightening your knee.

Add Weight

You can also add dumbbells or kettlebells to the original version.

You can be creative with a small child, dog, or sandbag.

What Are The Top Mistakes To Avoid?

Mistakes to Avoid While Doing the Bulgarian Split Squat

Although a Bulgarian split squat is much easier than a traditional squat, it’s still important to know some things.

Your front leg is not in a comfortable position.

You’ll spend a lot more time trying to find the right position for your front foot if it’s not correctly positioned.

Keep in mind that you don’t want your foot too close to the bench so that your knee touches your toes.

However, you also don’t want it too far.

After finding the perfect placement, mark the floor using a small plate or dumbbell to guide you for your next set.

Your torso isn’t tilted.

While it is common to keep your chest up when doing strength exercises, you should actually tilt your torso forward for this movie.

If you remain upright, you will limit your range and cause your knees to protrude before you reach optimal depth.

This can be done by bending your waist to a 30-degree angle.

Then, try again.

Lifting Of The Front Heel

Ensure your front foot is flat on a level surface and that your heel remains grounded during the exercise.

This can be fixed by adjusting the position of the front leg relative to the elevated surface.

Avoid Using A Too High Surface.

You don’t need to raise your back foot very high.

Your technique will suffer.

What Can You Do To Incorporate This Into Your Daily Life?

How to Include the Bulgarian Split Squat in Your Routine

Add Bulgarian split squat to your lower body workout to increase leg strength.

Or, you can mix it up with a full-body workout.

You’ll soon be able to build a stronger core and legs with the help of 3 to 5 additional strength exercises.

Before starting any strength training, you should warm up with 5-10 minutes of low- to medium-intensity cardio.

Next, do some dynamic stretching and foam rolling.

Which Variations Are Possible?

Bulgarian Split Squat Variations

After mastering the Bulgarian split squat, add resistance or other props.

Barbell

Place a barbell on both your trap’s shoulders and perform the same movement.

Pay attention to where your foot is placed behind yours, so you don’t lose balance due to the extra weight.

Dumbbells Or Kettlebells

While performing Bulgarian split squat, hold a dumbbell or a kettlebell in each of your hands.

Although this weighted variation is easier than the barbell one, your grip strength will be restricted.

Smith Machine

The Smith machine is also known as an assisted bench press.

It allows you to safely and securely test your strength by performing Bulgarian split squat.

Place the bar at your shoulder height.

Then, reach underneath the bar and unhook it.

Complete the movement.

Gym Ball

Your Bulgarian split squat becomes more challenging if you add a gym ball to the mix (also known as a yoga ball or exercise ball).

You can use the ball to replace a bench, but you will need to be more careful to maintain your balance as you squat.

Resistance band

Place a resistance band under your front foot.

Bend your elbows and hold the handles at your shoulders.

Keep your balance by squatting down and adjusting the resistance band handles.

Split Sweat Vs. Lunge – What’s The Difference?

Split Sweat Vs. Lunge - What's The Difference

Split squats and lunges both focus on the muscles of the legs.

However, there are some differences.

Movement Pattern 

Split squats are very different from lunges.

Split squats place more emphasis on the muscles of the front leg.

This allows the back leg to relax more, as most of your weight rests on your front.

On the other hand, a lunge balances the weight equally across both legs.

Muscles Work

While the split squat works most of the same muscles, the lunge targets slightly different body parts.

Split squats target the quadriceps, while lunges balance your lower body muscles.

Variations 

There are many variations of these exercises.

Several lunge variations, including the forward stepping lunge and backward stepping lunge.

This adds cardio to the strength-training exercise.

Split squat variations are also available.

The most notable split squat is the Bulgarian Split Squat.

Also known as the rear foot elevated split squat.

Split squats and lunges are typically performed with bodyweight.

However, some variations include weights such as kettlebells or barbells.

How To Work Out Safely And Avoid Injury

How to Bulgarian Split Squat

Before you begin an exercise program, make sure to consult your doctor if you have any pre-existing or current health conditions.

To ensure safety and effectiveness, proper exercise technique is crucial.

However, you might need to adjust each exercise depending on your personal needs.

You should choose a weight that allows you to maintain complete control over your body during the exercise.

Pay attention to your body and stop if you feel discomfort or pain.

You will see steady progress in your fitness and increase body strength if you incorporate proper warm-ups and rest into your exercise routine.

Your ability to recover after your workouts will determine your final results.

To allow adequate recovery, you should rest for 24 and 48 hours before returning to the same muscle groups.

Muscles Developed By The Split Squat

What muscles does the Bulgarian split squat work

The split squat is a unilateral exercise that increases lower-body strength and muscle hypertrophy, balance, and stability.

Here is a breakdown of the main muscle groups involved in this exercise.

Gluteals

The hip extension and pelvis stabilization are done by the glutes.

Lifters/athletes can adjust the split depth to isolate the glutes or hamstrings.

Quadriceps

The quadriceps extend to the knee.

They are what actually initiate the squat.

To increase knee flexion, you can move your feet closer together (though we do not recommend keeping them too far apart).

Hamstrings

The hamstrings provide stability, balance, and strength during the lower phase of the split.

This can improve your running and jumping ability and increase hamstring strength.

Core

The core muscles (rectus abdominals and obliques) stabilize the core and support a rigid body to enable the hips to function properly.

The core also helps to resist rotational forces caused by insufficient balance and stability.

Who Should Perform the Split Squat

Here are some reasons why split squats can benefit strength, power, or fitness athletes.

Strength & Power Athletes

Who Does the Bulgarian Split Squat

Strongman Athletes And Powerlifters

Competition lifts are bilateral and stationary. 

Unilateral training increases strength and hypertrophy.

Strongman athletes must move with loads while gaining strength and power.

These strength athletes will benefit from loaded unilateral training.

Olympic Weightlifters

Weightlifters require balance, coordination, strength, and unilateral power to perform split jumps.

These fundamental attributes are essential for strength and power athletes.

They can increase injury risk, increase muscle and movement disorders, and decrease their maximum lower body strength and hypertrophy potential.

General Population & Health Athletes

Split squats can be incorporated into any fitness routine by anyone, whether they are a gym-goer or a professional athlete.

Split squats are a very effective exercise.

You’ll be stronger, more muscular, and in better condition.

Endurance athletes Cyclists, Runners, and Cyclists

Bicyclists, runners, and other endurance athletes heavily rely on unilateral leg performance.

Split squats can increase muscle mass, strength, and muscular endurance; they allow athletes to train similar angles and coordination/stability requirements often seen in their sport/fitness.

The split squat can be integrated into strength training or volume-based workouts.

Reps And Programming Recommendations

These are the three sets and reps for the split squat.

These are only starting points.

You can adjust these ranges at your own discretion.

These ranges should work for you.

To Gain Muscle

Hypertrophy can be achieved by increasing training volume (more reps), training time under tension, and/or training towards fatigue. 

Perform three to five sets with eight to fifteen repetitions and 90-120 second breaks with heavy or moderate loads.

To Gain Strength

You can do heavy split squats in strength training sessions unless you are a competitive powerlifter who requires you to train your back squat.

Do three to five sets with five to ten repetitions and rest for 90 to 120 seconds with heavy or moderate loads.

To Increase Muscle Endurance

Do two to three sets of 20-30 repetitions, with a 45-60 second break and light to moderate loads.

You can add another set to the scheme, or change the pace, to perform the same reps, but with a slower pace.

The Bulgarian Split Squat Benefits

The Bulgarian Split Squat Benefits

These are the benefits of doing split squats.

Address Muscular, Movement Asymmetries

A dominant leg is often a problem for athletes and lifters.

This can lead to muscle imbalances and movement compensation patterns.

Split squat allows you to focus on only one leg at a time.

This helps you strengthen your legs.

This will make you less likely to sustain injuries due to muscular compensations, which is a discrepancy of form caused by one leg compensating for the incompetence of the other.

Unilateral Hypertrophy, Strength

Unilateral exercises have increased muscle strength and fixed bilateral (two-legged) deficit issues.

Split squats have the key benefit of increasing muscle activation.

Application For Sport And Human Movement

One leg does more work when you run, jump or cycle than the other.

Split squats will increase unilateral strength and enhance your ability to move.

To climb stairs faster, you don’t have to do a heavy split.

However, your joints will benefit if you do it more often.

Your joints will be more prepared to run, jump, and squat if you do knee flexion.

Last Words

Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian split squats can be very beneficial for your core and legs.

This exercise is easier on the lower back and can increase strength in your lower body.

You’ll soon master the right form, and you will be on your way towards greater strength.

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