You have a lot of exercise options when it comes to leg workouts. Find out how to do Bulgarian split squats and whether they are good.
Bulgarian split squats, also known as rear foot elevated split squats, are an exercise where you put one foot on an elevated platform behind you and then squat through your front leg.
This exercise is great for growing and strengthening leg muscles like your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Especially for people who don’t have a lot of extra weight available.
In turn, you can also say that Bulgarian split squats can help weight loss, get you better general health, and improve athletic performance.
One thing to note is that some people will find Bulgarian split squats uncomfortable on their knees and inconvenient in terms of balance.
Additionally, more experienced lifters may need to do weighted Bulgarian split squats to see optimal training progress.
How to do a Bulgarian split squat
Before going into the steps involved you want to know that Bulgarian split squats require you to have some type of sturdy elevated platform.
This can range from a flat weight bench to a sturdy chair with plyo boxes, park benches, and stairs in between.
Once you have one of these, take the following steps to do a Bulgarian split squat:
- Stand in front of the elevated platform with your back toward it.
- Put the upper part of one foot on the edge of the platform. Hop forward to the desired distance for your training goals.
- Lower your body as far as comfortable in a controlled motion. Keep your knee above your foot. You can use your arms for balance if needed. Another option for improving your balance is putting your feet wider apart horizontally speaking.
- Slowly raise your body until your leg is slightly less than stretched.
- Complete your set on one leg and then repeat the same number of repetitions on the other side. Try to keep your front feet about the same distance away from the elevated platform.
The main thing to keep in mind during the Bulgarian split squats is to keep your front knee above your front foot.
Besides that, you want to give each leg about the same workout to avoid muscle imbalances. This also means keeping the distance from the platform to your foot about the same.
Bulgarian split squat foot placement tips
There are a few things to say about your foot placement in the Bulgarian split squat.
The most straightforward point is that you want your back foot to lean on the edge of the platform with the upper part.
On the other hand, the ideal placement of your front foot can vary depending on your training goals.
To really work your quadriceps (front thighs), you want to keep your front foot close to the elevated platform. Additionally, you want to keep your body upright.
On the other hand, you can also do Bulgarian split squats with a focus on your glutes and hamstrings.
For this, you want to put your foot slightly farther from the platform and really tilt your upper body forward and back in the movement.
Muscles worked with Bulgarian split squats
Some of the primary muscles worked with Bulgarian split squats include:
- Quadriceps (front thighs)
- Glutes (butt)
- Hamstrings (back thighs)
Some of the secondary muscles worked with Bulgarian split squats include:
- Erector spinae
- Hip abductors (outer thighs)
- Hip adductors (inner thighs)
- To some extent other core muscles like your abs and obliques
As mentioned in the foot placement section above, you can do Bulgarian split squats in different ways to focus on certain muscle groups.
That aside, you want to keep in mind that you still have to implement enough resistance, repetitions, and sets to get results.
For something like muscle growth, that means doing about 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (and potentially even 50) Bulgarian split squats with a challenging resistance.
It is possible that resistance training beginners need to start with easier bodyweight quadricep exercises to stay get within this range.
On the flip side, more experienced lifters could benefit from doing dumbbell Bulgarian split squats or other weighted variations. This can offer more and faster results.
Benefits of Bulgarian split squats
There are many benefits Bulgarian split squats offer if you do this exercise at least somewhat the right way. A few of the most important examples include:
- Stronger muscles: Bulgarian split squats are a type of resistance training that can help you strengthen your leg muscles.
- Can improve balance: Bulgarian split squats can be somewhat challenging in terms of balance. As long as this does not interfere with your workouts, the balance training can be a benefit.
- Helps you avoid muscle asymmetries: Bulgarian split squats work one leg at a time. This allows you to really train your muscles equally hard which can be useful for avoiding muscle imbalances. Do keep your foot placement the same on each side to achieve this.
- Can help with losing weight: The extra energy consumption and muscle growth of Bulgarian split squats are helpful for losing weight. In combination with good lifestyle habits, you can see nice results in this area.
- Flexibility and mobility: Bulgarian split squats can be somewhat challenging in terms of hip mobility and flexibility in the muscles around that area. In turn, this can benefit your capacity in these fitness components.
- A lot of resistance without weights: Because you put your full body weight on one leg, bodyweight Bulgarian split squats offer a nice amount of resistance. This can be good at home where you tend to have less weight.
Bulgarian split squats are one of the top exercises when it comes to many of these benefits. They are definitely one of the compound leg exercises you can consider.
Bulgarian split squat alternatives
While they are good, Bulgarian split squats are also not the only movement that makes it easy to work your leg muscles effectively.
Here are a few examples of Bulgarian split squat alternatives:
- Jump lunges
- Leg extensions
- Balance board exercises
- Hip thrusts
What alternatives are better for you depends on details like why you are interested in Bulgarian split squats, what your training goals are, and what exercise equipment you have available.
Is the Bulgarian split squat a good exercise?
The Bulgarian split squat is a great exercise for working your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Especially if you are in a situation where you don’t have a lot of resistance available.
One small potential downside is that some people find Bulgarian split squats a bit challenging in terms of balance. This could reduce the effectiveness of your workouts.
Additionally, some people find this movement uncomfortable on their knees.
These things aside, it is likely still worth considering Bulgarian split squats for your exercise routines. Especially if you really like doing this exercise.
What are Bulgarian split squats good for?
Bulgarian split squats are good for growing and strengthening your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Especially if you don’t have a lot of extra resistance available.
Should beginners do Bulgarian split squats?
Absolute resistance training beginners should likely start with bodyweight squats and lunges before doing Bulgarian split squats. As they get stronger over time, switching over to Bulgarian split squats could become a smart choice.