Bulgarian Split Squat

How to Do Bulgarian Split Squats and Why You Should Try Them?

In search of an innovative approach to take on your leg day workout? Are you hoping to boost stability, mobility and efficiently engage key muscle groups located in the lower body? Do you shamelessly desire to incorporate uncomplicated yet useful exercise into your fitness regimen without leaving home behind? If so, Bulgarian split squats should be at the top of the list. By elevating one leg using either a bench or chair during this variation on single-leg squats further enhances range-of-motion whilst elevating intensity level which leads it an optimal one for improved quads glutes hamstrings calves muscle development.

What are the Benefits of Bulgarian Split Squats?

Incorporating Bulgarian split squats into your exercise routine can bring significant fitness gains alongside improving overall health status as listed below:

  • These types of squats provide an excellent quad focus compared to standard versions helping develop more power and speed suitable when performing activities that require quick movements.
  • Executing Bulgarian split squats targets glutes, hamstrings & calves ultimately aiding shapely legs & toned butt formation
  • Balance improvement as well as core stabilization & mobility enhancement are other notable upsides resulting from engaging these workouts fully
  • Bulgarian Split Squat routines significantly reduce lower back stress by varying weights- minimized load lifting retaining safer spines avoiding injuries altogether 
  • This type of squat rectifies issues like muscle imbalances & asymmetries equally working out both legs leading to better alignments, posture preventing staggered movements causing injury thereby improving overall chronic issues. 6. Athletes can conveniently adapt Bulgarian Split workouts by tweaking some aspects such as bench height, front foot distance, weights lifted and the pace of the exercise, ultimately leading to an increase in intensity and difficulty.

How to Do Bulgarian Split Squats Properly

To do Bulgarian split squats correctly, you need a bench or a chair that is about knee-high. You also need some space in front of it to perform the movement. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Stand about two feet away from the bench or chair, facing away from it. Your feet should be hip-width apart, your core should be engaged, your shoulders should be back, and your chest and eyes should be pointing straight ahead.
  • Lift your right foot and place it on the bench behind you. You can do this in one of two ways: either place the top of your foot on the bench so that your ankle joint is aligned with the edge of the bench, or flex your ankle and balance with the ball of your foot and your toes.
  • Make sure that your front foot is far enough from the bench so that when you lower down, your front knee doesn’t go past your toes. You may need to hop around a bit to find the right spot for you.
  • Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the ground, keeping your back straight and your core engaged. Your back knee should almost touch the floor, but not quite. Don’t let your front knee cave in or out; keep it aligned with your toes.
  • Push up through your front heel to return to the starting position. Squeeze your glutes at the top for extra activation. Repeat for the desired number of reps on each leg, switching legs after completing one set.

How to Incorporate Bulgarian Split Squats into Your Routine

Bulgarian split squats are a great exercise to add to your lower-body or full-body workout routine. They can be done as a warm-up, a main exercise, or a finisher, depending on your goals and preferences.

Here are some tips on how to use them effectively:

  • As a warm-up: Do 2 sets of 10 reps on each leg with no weight or light weight. This will activate your muscles and joints, increase blood flow, and prepare you for more intense exercises.
  • As a main exercise: Do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps on each leg with moderate to heavy weight. This will build strength, power and hypertrophy in your lower body.
  • As a finisher: Do 1 or 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps on each leg with light weight or no weight. This will create metabolic stress, increase muscle endurance, and burn calories.

You can also vary the tempo of the exercise to make it more challenging or easier. For example:

  • Slow down: Lower yourself for 3 seconds, pause for 1 second at the bottom, then push up for 1 second. This will increase time under tension and muscle damage.
  • Speed up: Lower yourself for 1 second, then push up explosively for 1 second. This will increase power and force production.
  • Mix it up: Lower yourself for 2 seconds, pause for 2 seconds at the bottom, then push up for 2 seconds. This will create muscle confusion and adaptation.

What are the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Bulgarian Split Squats?

Bulgarian split squats require careful attention and adherence towards proper form for best results without risking injury. Here are some common pitfalls worth avoiding if you decide to try incorporating these into your routine:

  • Putting the front foot too far/close near the bench messes with balance/stride causing concerning effects on scope of motion/health of joints; Finding ideal positioning means trial-and-error until natural position is found.
  • Letting the front kneecap invert/evert leads towards damaging joint structures & diminishing involvement by quadriceps/gluteal muscles; keeping the kneecap in line with toe direction is crucial throughout exercise.
  • Arching back/leaning forward incorrectly places undue pressure on parts of spine/neck & detracts from leg focus desired; Maintaining straight, tall posture while looking upwards slightly aids in ensuring safe and effective outcomes.
  • Dropping back knee too low/too high doesn't help or similarly limits progress towards target areas; Aiming to lower the back knee until it almost kisses the floor will produce a much better outcome.
  • Pushing up through toes rather than heels weakens balance, spreads emphasis away from glutes/quads and wrongly highlights calves. Driving movement through heel presses while squeezing nothin’ less than maximum power-exertion outta them glutes at the pinnacle yields ideal output.

What are Some Variations of Bulgarian Split Squats to Try?

Bulgarian Split Squat with resistance band variation

Want to shake up your workout routine to incorporate new challenges? The Bulgarian Split Squat is an excellent foundation for modification. Here are six alterations available that introduce different levels of difficulty:

  1. Bulgarian Split Squats with Dumbbell Variation: Raise resistance amounts through holding weights near body or over shoulder. 
  2. Bulgarian Split Squats with Kettlebell: Offer additional core strength and balance demands by clutching one kettlebell at either the chest (concentration on core) or hold at the side for more complexity. 
  3. Bulgarian split Squats with Resistance Band Integration: Flexibility in resistance amplifies workload when wrapping band around foot and shifting position while holding handles over shoulder level increases mixed results in squat outcomes. 
  4. Bulgarian split squats with Elevation Inclusions: Amplify complexity level by adding subtle height through incorporating steps beneath each foot rather than remaining on a flat surface. 
  5. Bulgarian Split Squat with Jump Component: Experimenting with explosive moments during ascent provides progress toward boosting plyometric ability as well as overall muscle power. 

Incorporating these modifications will definitely shake up regular workouts!


In summary, Bulgarian split squats have several potential benefits ranging from enhancing lower-body strength, power endurance while also improving balance stability and mobility features along with physical appearance changes of leg muscles in individuals who perform this exercise regularly. The precise manner in which the technique should be performed makes it easy-to-follow and modifiable based on goals or capabilities at any fitness level. To shake things up from  your regular leg workout sessions, giving Bulgarian split squats a shot would be well worth the time invested.

James Freeman


Meet James Freeman, a California native whose passion for fitness emerged during challenging times, reshaping his life. With over two decades of coaching experience, he's not just a coach; he's a real-life example, shedding over 100 pounds in a journey to a healthier lifestyle. Beyond his coaching career, James is passionate about inspiring at-risk youth and promoting wellness in schools. In his downtime, he enjoys swimming and cycling, connecting with nature. Join him on his Instagram and LinkedIn profiles for insights into his empowering fitness journey.