Bulgarian split squats
The Bulgarian split squat is a great exercise you can do for developing your quads, hip flexors, and glutes. It's a good way to train your legs without having to have heady weight on your back.
The Bulgarian split squat is a single-leg exercise, which will help prevent, and correct any muscle imbalances between the legs. This is the main benefit it has over barbell leg exercises.
How to do Bulgarian Split Squats
- Use a bench to put your back leg on the edge of the bench.
- Put your front leg forward. This will take some trial and error the first time you do this, having your front foot too close will reduce the range of motion while too far away from the bench will place pressure on your hip flexors. Once you find the right spot, out something down to mark it for the next sets.
- Squeeze your abs and take a deep diaphragmatic breath. Hold both of these for the whole rep. Think of your foot as having 3 points of contact with the floor, the big toe, outside of the foot and the heel. You want to drive all three into the floor at all times. This will help you remain balanced.
- You'll need to hinge at the hip slightly and then slowly lower until the knee of the leg on the bench touches the ground, or you go as low as you can. You'll need to go slow as this is being balanced under load. Don't divebomb on the way down
- Keep your chest up throughout the rep. You will lean forward a bit from the hip, but don't fold over.
- Drive up through your front foot back to the starting position, Make sure you drive up and not back. If you're driving backward you're taking Only use your back leg to help you balance. With either the barbell or the safety bar, you can do it in a squat rack sp you have the safety bars set in case you lose balance, or fail a rep.
Some people need to start doing this I the squat rack so they can use their hands to help them balance.
Once you find you can balance doing it in a cage you can practice doing it without anything to help you balance.
Once using just your body weight isn't a challenge anymore you can start using dumbells. Hold a dumbbell in both hands. Ensure your form is still the same with your core braced and your is chest up. People are often a bit slack when it comes to bracing with this exercise as it doesn't involve heavy weights as exercises as the squat or deadlift do. You still need to treat bracing as seriously.
There is the option of elevating the front leg as well to increase the range of motion.
As you get stronger you might find using two heavy dumbbells to be awkward. Some people then use a barbell which is a good option. I like to use the safety bar instead. The safety bar is perfect for Bulgarian split squats.