Bulgarian Split Squat: Instructions, Form Tips and Variations


Whether you’re a rugby player, boxer or runner, this is the single-leg squat variation you need

Bodyweight Workout 1: 2. Bulgarian Split Squat
23 May 2016

So you’re squatting already. That’s good. Here’s the thing, though – almost every sport in the world (running very much included) requires that you drive off one leg at a time, so if you haven’t got some unilateral (one-legged) work in your training plan, then you’re missing a trick. The Bulgarian split squat is the answer: not only is it slightly easier to learn and master than the full-on back squat, but it’s also more universally-doable for people with oddly-shaped femurs and arguably more injury proof. In the back squat, for instance, the lower back comes heavily into play, limiting the weight you’re able to lift. In the Bulgarian squat, it’s all about your glutes, quads and hamstrings. Here’s how to do it better.

Bulgarian Split Squat Instructions

  1. Rest the bar (if using) on the back of your shoulders.
  2. Stand looking forward with torso upright, core braced and hips square to your body, resting your back foot on bench. Your leading leg should be half a metre or so in front of bench.
  3. Lower until your front thigh is almost horizontal, keeping your knee in line with your foot. Don't let your front knee travel beyond your toes.

Bulgarian Split Squat Form Tips

Get Your Distance Right

The closer you stand to the bench, the more the Bulgarian split squat will emphasise your quads – though if you’re too close, it might give you some knee pain. Standing further away will tax your hip flexors more heavily, though it could also strain your groin. Experiment to find a distance that works for you.

Experiment with Weight

There are lots of ways to hold the weight in a Bulgarian split squat. The simplest is the goblet – holding a dumbbell upright in front of you, like it’s a goblet you’re about to drink out of. Once you’ve maxed out on your gym’s dumbbells, switch to holding a dumbbell in each hand, using straps if necessary. You can add weight with a barbell, but be careful – if you hit failure, it’ll be tricky to dump.

This content is from the experts at Men's Fitness magazine.

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