What is Bulgarian split squat and how to do it correctly?

Photo by Matthew Sichkaruk on Unsplash

What is the Bulgarian split squat?

All of you are probably familiar with the attacks. I think this is one of the favorite exercises for girls, because of the wonderful properties of forming elastic hips and buttocks. Bulgarian squat is a modification of the usual attacks and has even more wonderful properties! After all, the load is emphasized on the front foot. No wonder the English singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor loves him so much!

In addition to increasing the load, the exercise places increased demands on coordination and will show how much you control your body.

If you thought that this is a purely female exercise, then I will hasten to correct you. The Bulgarian split squat will make even the most trained men sweat.

History of Bulgarian Split Squat

Where did this interesting exercise come from? Judging by the name, the Bulgarians should be involved in its occurrence.

Having rummaged through the Internet, I came to the conclusion that the time of the first mention of split squatting can be considered the 70s of the 20th century. It was then that the Bulgarian national weightlifting team took the lead in the Olympics. It is clear that such a rapid breakthrough in the results did not go unnoticed by other countries. After analyzing the training of weightlifters, it was discovered that the exercise, which is now called the “separate Bulgarian squat”.

What muscles does exercise involve?

Since this is a squat, the main movements are flexion and extension of the leg at the knee joint. But be careful with what muscles work. After all, both at the moment of lowering down and at the moment of lifting, the main load falls on the quadriceps muscle of the thigh. But she is not alone in this exercise.

As in all other squats, the butt and large adductors act as a companion to the quadriceps. And the muscles of the back of the thigh work in a static model, that is, they do not change their length.

Since the Bulgarian squat is not an easy movement (from the point of view of coordination), the hull must be constantly maintained in a stable position. This task is undertaken by the muscles straightening the spine and the oblique muscles of the abs.

Advantages and disadvantages

Exercise, although it has a lot of advantages, is not without drawbacks. But let’s start with the good news:

  1. The main advantage is that the Bulgarian squat accented works out one leg. This is especially useful if the muscles of one leg are lagging behind the other leg, for example, due to a past injury.
  2. Increases the load on the muscles of one leg. While the weight of the burden may be even less than in conventional attacks
  3. Significantly less strain on the back. In particular, because of this virtue, weightlifters like to use it in their workouts.
  4. Bulgarian squats will complement leg training well. Especially if you perform them after the usual squats
  5. There are variations that require balance. On the one hand, this is an advantage, as it develops coordination. But it may be a disadvantage for beginners who have not yet developed motor skills in such exercises.


  1. The main disadvantage is that it will be difficult for newcomers to keep their balance. To avoid this, you can perform squats in the  Smith machine
  2. To perform Bulgarian squats need a good stretching of the muscles of the lower body. If your rectus quadriceps muscle is badly stretched, the lower back in the lower position will sag
  3. When used as a barbell, exercise can become traumatic.

Variations of exercise and technique

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

Regardless of the type of burdening technique will vary slightly. But in addition to the loading projectile, the support for the rear leg can also change. It may be:

  1. Bench for bench press. Pick her height so that the top edge is just below the knee
  2. Fit ball. This is where the muscles that keep the body in balance will have to work. With this variation, it is better to use either dumbbells or your own body weight as a burden.
  3. Chair. If you do at home
  4. Loops TRH. Since the loops do not limit the movement of the back leg in the plane of the horizon, the buttock and large adductors will receive a large load. Burden when training with loops is better not to use

Yes, the exercise is very diverse. This is a big plus because when you get tired of one implementation option, you can immediately switch to another!

Now let’s talk about the correct technique, or rather analyze it in steps:

  1. If you are doing Bulgarian squats for the first time, then first try to do an exercise without weight. Find the optimal position of the support (front) leg and roughly mark at what distance it should be from the support for the rear leg. How do lunges I’ll tell you now
  2. We start with the fact that we take in the hands of the burden. If you squat with a barbell, then put the neck on the trapeze
  3. We approach the bench or other support. Turn your back to her and lean on her toe back legs
  4. We set the front foot so that in the starting position (standing) it is under the body or slightly ahead. Sock while looking forward. If the balance is difficult to keep, then you can slightly turn the sock inside
  5. Before the beginning of the squat, we transfer all the weight to the front leg. Remember that we only need the back leg in order not to fall back.
  6. Keeping your back straight, we begin to slowly go down. In this case, you can feel a slight tension in the back leg. This is normal, because her muscles also do work, helping us to keep balance
  7. Lower until the thigh of the front leg is parallel to the floor or slightly higher than the parallel.
  8. Return to the starting position. Perform the right number of repetitions, change the leg
  9. The approach is considered complete as soon as you complete the required number of repetitions for each leg.

Burden and necessary equipment

Bulgarian squats can be performed in any condition. A chair or fit ball is suitable for the home, and as a burden, it is the weight of your own body or the dumbbell, which many fitness followers have. When training in the gym, as a support fit bench press, TRH loops, and other suitable supports. And the load you provide dumbbells, weights, barbell or Smith machine.

Training with dumbbells

If your own body weight is not enough for you, then the choice as a burden for dumbbells will be the most optimal. So training will be easier than with a barbell but will retain its complexity for the muscles of stabilizers. It will be safer. Dumbbells can be held not only along the body but also at shoulder level.

Training with kettlebells

In the CrossFit halls in a large assortment, you can find weights. They will serve as a good alternative to dumbbells.

Training with a barbell on the shoulders

Bulgarian squats with a barbell on the shoulders – the most difficult type of exercise. The main difficulty is that the center of gravity of your body rises above. Respectively it becomes harder to keep balance. Include this exercise in the training program only if you already have considerable experience in training. And ask someone to secure you.

Training in Smith

Classes in Smith’s machine are suitable for those who need to work out exactly the target muscles – legs and buttocks. After all, maintaining the equilibrium position is no longer necessary, since you have another reliable point of support – the machine`s neck. The minus of this variant is the exercise in increased strain on the knee joints.

Recommendations and common mistakes

Split squats will help in building bulky legs, but only if you do everything right! How to get the maximum benefit from exercise? For this you need:

  1. Hone the technique of execution without the burden. This will help your own feelings, a mirror opposite you, or an experienced coach. You can use all these tricks together. You can also remove the exercise on the video, and then analyze all the shortcomings
  2. The first time, while learning the technique, pay attention to the fact that the load fell mainly on the front leg. The wrong technique is observed when you put your front foot far ahead of the body.
  3. Make sure that the torso is not strong forward. If you are so inclined to bend over, then you have put your front foot too close to a bench or other support.
  4. Do not forget that training is half the success! Muscles will grow only with proper nutrition!
  5. Do not use large weights. Much more important to perform a squat with the right technique and feel the work of the muscles!

Dangerous moments

Trouble usually happens when people are too fanatical in their exercise or have certain health problems.

Bulgarian squats are only suitable for people with healthy joints. After all, the entire load is shifted to one leg, to its joints and ligaments. It is very easy to traumatize a joint, especially if it is already not in order.

I do not recommend performing the exercise if you have varicose veins. If you still want to try, first consult with your doctor’s phlebologist.


Bulgarian split squats will no doubt make your workouts more varied and effective. But only if you do them without fanaticism.

Source: http://fit-ness24.ru/bolgarskij-split-prised/


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