The Bulgarian split squat is a great exercise for both the quads and glutes, depending on the way the exercise is performed. Similar to the regular split squat, the Bulgarian variation is a single leg squat variation where the back foot is elevated.
This exercise can take some getting used to. Finding the best way for your elevated foot to be placed can be quite personal and may take some playing around with.
It is important to remember that your back foot is there to stabilise you, and that it is your front leg that should feel the movement. If you are a beginner, you might find the stabiliser muscles in your hind leg feel the movement, that is simply because they are aiding your balance.
How to do a Bulgarian Split Squat
- Find an object to place your hind leg on. This can be a gym bench, a box, a chair or even stairs depending on where you are.
- Depending on what muscle group you want the exercise to target will depend where you stand. If you want to target your quads, stand closer to the bench, if you want to target your glutes, stand further away from the bench.
- Place your right leg on the bench behind you. The foot can either be flexed or flat, try both and see which feels most comfortable for you.
- Check to make sure that your feet are hips distance apart. One mistake people make in this exercise is their feet being too close together, but this will affect your balance.
- Engage your core and look straight ahead. For the quad variation, keep your chest up, staying up right. For the glute variation, lean slightly forward so as you bend your knee you can sit back into your glutes.
- Bend your left knee, so you are travelling downward. Your right leg will naturally bend as well. You want to keep lowering until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Push back up when you reach parallel. Try and push your knee outwards as you go up to stop it from caving in, this will also add tension to the glutes.
- Repeat for the desired reps and then repeat on the other side.
Quadriceps, glutes (medius, maximus and minimus), hamstrings, calves, abdominals and spinal erectors.
Depending on which variation you use, and how glute or quad dominant you are will depend on how much you ‘feel it’ in your glutes or quads. If you are more quad dominant but want to feel the exercise more in your glutes, activate your glutes before. This can be done by performing glute dominant exercises like banded crab walks at a high rep range at the start of your workout.
If the exercise is too challenging for you, you could try a normal split squat, where the back foot is not elevated.
But if the exercise becomes easier, or you want to push yourself, there are several ways you can add more resistance. For example;
- Barbell Bulgarian split squats
- DB Bulgrain split squats
- Goblet Bulgarian split squats
- Kettlebell Bulgarian split squats