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16 Benefits Of Bulgarian Split Squats

There are many different habits and workouts you can do to improve your life. What about doing Bulgarian split squats, what benefits can you expect?

Bulgarian split squats, both bodyweight and with extra weights, are a popular leg strength training exercise where you put one foot on an elevated platform behind you and then squat through your front leg. They are a great way to work out a variety of leg muscles.

Some people question how useful this exercise can be but adding Bulgarian split squats to your routine can offer you some of the following amazing benefits.

If your knees or any other body parts hurt during the exercise this may be a sign you need to start with other strength training exercises first. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before implementing Bulgarian split squats into your workout routine.

1. Stronger muscles

Bulgarian split squats are mainly a strength training exercise, which means they are mostly for improving muscle strength and endurance. Extra muscle is not only beneficial for your health in many ways but it is also considered to be visually appealing.

Some of the muscles worked with Bulgarian split squats include:

  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Core

If you like the idea of building muscle while doing Bulgarian split squats you can do this exercise weighted. This means wearing/carrying a heavy backpack, a weighted vest, dumbbells, barbell, etc. while doing them to increase the amount of muscle mass you gain.

Since your body weight fully rests on one leg, Bulgarian split squats are one of the best bodyweight exercise choices to build leg muscle mass. To build the most muscle mass you want to do about 4 sets of 10-40 Bulgarian split squats depending on how advanced you are.

That being said, at some point your body weight may stop being enough resistance to build extra muscle mass with Bulgarian split squats. When this is the case weighted Bulgarian split squats or strength training exercises where you use external weights are the next step if you want to keep building extra muscle.

2. Stronger immune system

Your immune system is a collection of biological processes that protects you from diseases.

On top of the many other benefits, physical exercise like Bulgarian split squats can make your immune system stronger (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). This in turn helps you with being sick less often.

You do have to keep in mind that at some point working out can turn into overtraining which can weaken immune function.

3. Can help with losing weight

Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.

One way to try to make this happen is by doing a workout. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time you use up more energy than usual. Doing Bulgarian split squats can help with weight loss since doing a workout like it generally requires more energy than most of your usual daily activities.

Another way workouts, mainly strength training exercises, help you lose weight is by increasing your muscle mass which in turn helps with burning more energy with everything you do. Bulgarian split squats are a great exercise for building a lot of extra muscle mass.

The number of calories burned while doing this exercise is not that great but the muscle mass increase potential can make Bulgarian split squats a great exercise for losing weight anyway.

Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.

4. Helps you avoid muscle asymmetries

Bulgarian split squats are a strength training exercise where you put your whole weight on one leg at a time. By doing this you reduce the risk of using one leg more than the other. This is a possibility in other leg exercises like squats and leg presses.

If you use one leg more the muscle gain in one leg can be different than the other which leads to muscle asymmetries. Muscle asymmetries can lead to increased injury risk and bad posture so likely something you want to avoid.

5. Improved mood

Most people are not always completely aware of it but the physical health of the human body has a big influence on the mood and thoughts of the individual.

Doing Bulgarian split squats doesn’t just help with this by improving general health. There are inevitably many different reasons involved but one reason why exercises like Bulgarian split squats benefit mental health is that they promote the release of endorphins, “feel-good” hormones (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

Besides the actual physiological changes doing Bulgarian split squats will cause, you will likely also have positive feelings about having done something challenging that’s good for you.

6. Can improve flexibility

Flexibility is the range of motion specific joints or joint groups can do.

By doing an exercise like Bulgarian split squats where you push these boundaries you are able to increase this range. This in turn can help reduce the likelihood of accidents, especially falls, and improve exercise performance.

7. Builds fast muscle and muscle endurance

Not all muscle is the same, it can be made of different types of muscle fibers. These different types have different properties with accompanying advantages and disadvantages.

A common categorization of these muscle fibers is “type 1, slow-twitch muscle” and “type 2, fast-twitch muscle”. Your muscle groups are not made of one or the other, they are made of a certain ratio of type 1 vs type 2 fibers. The way you train can influence this ratio (12).

The type 1, slow-twitch muscle fibers are generally more useful for longer duration workouts like jogging, swimming at a low tempo, cycling at a low tempo,… Basically activities at intensities you can do for an extended period of time.

The type 2, fast-twitch muscle fibers are generally more useful for short duration, fast body movement workouts like sprints, powerlifting, javelin throwing,…Basically activities at intensities you can only do for a short period of time.

As a strength training beginner Bulgarian split squats will initially help you build type 2 muscle fibers. Once you get to a point where Bulgarian split squats start being a less intensive exercise they will help you build more type 1 muscle fibers.

If you do weighted Bulgarian split squats you can continue to focus on building type 2 muscle fibers for longer.

8. Improved cardiovascular health

Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes the heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.

When you move more intensely your body needs to transport these things, which means using your heart, at a higher rate.

Your heart is a muscle that can be trained by using it more intensely. While doing Bulgarian split squats is mainly a strength exercise, this exercise also makes your heart beating faster and thus helps you strengthen your cardiovascular system. This in turn leads to a wide variety of other benefits (13, 14, 15, 16, 17).

Do keep in mind that muscles can get injured. If you have not done any physical activity in a long time you may want to start out with low-intensity movements and build up from there.

9. Can improve athletic performance

Getting better at a certain sport or exercise isn’t necessarily done by doing these activities more. Cross-training which is training in a different sport can be useful.

Bulgarian split squats can help you increase your jump height by strengthening your leg muscles.

One study suggests that jump height in turn is related to sprint performance (18). This means that adding Bulgarian split squats to your routine can improve your performance in basically any sport that involves fast running.

10. Improved cognitive function

Another benefit of exercises like doing Bulgarian split squats is that they can help you improve your cognitive function in a few ways. First of all, they can help with the prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (19).

Another way working out benefits cognitive function is by improving brain plasticity (20, 21, 22). Better brain plasticity basically means that you are able to learn things faster, see the connection between things faster, and remember things better.

That means that adding a Bulgarian split squat workout to your routine can benefit you by improving areas like your academic performance, job performance, and much more.

11. Time-efficient workout

Another benefit of Bulgarian split squats is that a good workout session with them doesn’t require a lot of time. To build muscle you basically want to put enough strain on your muscles so muscle growth processes start. This doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time out of your day.

You can easily see this comparison with other types of workouts for yourself. Measure how many minutes it takes to do Bulgarian split squats until you can’t continue and compare that with how many minutes you can jog at a low tempo.

Longer duration workouts can still offer benefits but this means that there is one reason less why you can’t work out.

This benefit of Bulgarian split squats is especially useful if you have trouble finding enough time throughout your day to fit in a workout.

12. Improved bone density

The next benefit of doing Bulgarian split squats is that it can help improve, and prevent degeneration of, your bone density, basically the strength of your bones (23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28).

This is helpful for avoiding broken bones. Depending on your age you may not be that worried about something like this right now. However, exercising right now can help you avoid broken bones in 40 years. The things you do today have an impact on the future.

The way many parts of your body work is that by challenging them you set in motion processes that strengthen these body parts. The same goes for your bones, by putting pressure on them you make them stronger in the long term.

Workouts like running can improve bone density even more than Bulgarian split squats. Bulgarian split squats in turn are likely better than swimming for bone density since you put more pressure on your bones with Bulgarian split squats.

13. Improves balance and coordination

You will definitely challenge your balance and coordination skills while doing Bulgarian split squats. By doing this frequently you get better at it like with most skills. Many people forget to implement balance training into their workout routine but it is a helpful fitness component.

The benefits of improved balance and coordination don’t just show up in other technical sports. In daily activities as simple as walking, these skills can help you avoid accidents.

14. Healthier lungs

To move around your body needs oxygen, the more intensely the more oxygen. Your body absorbs oxygen from the air through your lungs.

By using your lungs more, thanks to workouts like doing Bulgarian split squats, you can improve how well they work (29, 30, 31, 32, 33). Bulgarian split squats will not be the best exercise for engaging your lungs but the usage of a big muscle group like your legs will increase the amount of oxygen your body uses.

Improving how well your lungs function leads to benefits like improved exercise performance and getting tired slower.

15. Slows down aging

Most people think of age as the number of days, months, and years that have passed since the day they were born, this is usually referred to as their chronological age. There are also many other ways to measure “age” based on physiological factors (34).

Exercises like doing Bulgarian split squats obviously won’t have an influence on the number of days that have passed since you were born. However, physical activity can slow down the aging in terms of how fast other measurement methods progress (35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40).

In general, these other age measurements are more accurate methods than chronological age for assessing risk on age-related diseases. Slowing these down can be a huge benefit for your health.

16. Improves sleep

Good quality and duration of sleep are extremely important for your physical health and cognitive function. Unfortunately, many people can do a lot better with both quality and duration.

A lot of the things you do throughout the day influence the quality and duration in some way. One of the things that can benefit sleep a relatively high amount is doing a workout like Bulgarian split squats (41, 42, 43).

You do want to keep in mind that exercising too close to bedtime can have the reverse effect and mess with your sleep. Make sure you give your body time enough time to calm down after a workout. For most people, this comes down to avoiding exercises at least an hour or two before going to sleep.

Conclusion

While inevitably some workouts are better for some of these benefits than Bulgarian split squats, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine.

One thing you need to remember is that Bulgarian split squats can be hard on body parts like your knees, hips, and back, especially if you have a lot of pounds to lose. If you feel any pain in your knees or other body parts that may be a sign you need to start with other workouts first.

Also keep in mind that consistency is a big factor for a workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. If doing Bulgarian split squats is a workout you love, great. If not there are plenty of Bulgarian split squat alternatives and other exercises to consider that can also offer a lot of benefits.