Making a case for the Bulgarian Split squat

24 June 2020 Training

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The squat is one of the most important compound movements to incorporate into your workout routine. It works multiple muscle groups and your core at the same time. But how many of us have strayed away from the squat rack intentionally because it’s one of the most painful workouts at the gym? The barbell squat is the holy grail of workouts, so keep trying your hand at it till you can master it. But until then the rear foot elevated split squat or the Bulgarian split squat is an equally effective workout that burns up the quads and also activates the core like the barbell squat.

A hardcore lifter will never agree with me if I say the split squat can be a replacement for the traditional barbell squat. But to make a case for the Bulgarian split squat, done effectively it is just as effective without the added spinal compression that happens with the barbell back squat.

It is a unilateral movement and so there is no way to overcompensate for a weaker side like it is with bilateral lifts such as the barbell squat. It demands more balance and stability and therefore not only does it target the leg muscles but it also works on the core. It also works to increase muscle endurance and hypertrophy.

The move activates most of the muscles of the lower body – both anterior and posterior – either as the primary muscle or as a stabilizer.

How to do the Bulgarian Split Squat

  1. Start by standing with your back facing a box or a bench.
  2. Place one foot on top of the bench/box that is behind you and the other foot in front of you. Lower your back knee down towards the ground while bending your front foot. When the front thigh is parallel to the floor, push yourself up again to the start position.
  3. How far should your front foot be? Standing too close to the bench can put a strain on your knees and standing too far may not be as effective and achieving balance may be difficult. A good guide would be to make sure that when you go down into your squat the knee of the front foot should be above the ankle.

The split squat, if added to your regular workout regime and done correctly, can work wonders for the lower body. Start with body weight split squats and then gradually progress to holding kettle bells or dumbbells.