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Bulgarian Split Squat: Tips, How-To, Common Mistakes + FAQ

The Bulgarian split squat is a great exercise when it comes to developing your leg muscles. This variation on the normal split squat is quite complicated to master, but once you do you have a great exercise to add to your schedule. Read the explanation below carefully before performing this exercise.

Which muscles do you use?

The most important muscle group that is trained with a Bulgarian split squat is your quadriceps. If you perform the exercise correctly, you will feel a lot of tension in this muscle group, but it is not limited to this.

For example, Bulgarian split squats are also effective for training the glutes. Many people who follow a program especially for the glutes can therefore be seen doing Bulgarian split squats.

Your hamstrings are also an important muscle group during the performance and it doesn't even stop there. Balance is very important and a strong core is therefore extremely important.

When you perform the exercise for the first time, it is therefore not surprising that you have some trouble keeping your balance. All the muscles in your waist are put to work hard to stay in balance.

Bulgarian Split Squat: Tips, How-To, Common Mistakes + FAQ

Performing the Bulgarian Split Squat

Follow the steps below to do an effective Bulgarian split squat. Start with a lightweight (e.g. an empty bar) to master the movement first. Is this going well? Then you can take the step to hang more weight on the bar.

  1. Choose an elevation and place it behind you

    Take a raise that you place behind yourself. Consider, for example, a weight bench. Move it back far enough so that you have enough room to lift the bar off the rack and perform the exercise.

  2. Exit with the barbell on your shoulders

    Grab the bar at shoulder width and place it on the back of your shoulders. Continue to hold the bar firmly and keep pushing your shoulder blades in. Now lift the bar off the rack and take a step back.

  3. Place one foot on the bench behind you

    Gently move one leg back and place it on the bench. Your knee is therefore slightly bent and your foot is resting on the bench with the instep. Make sure you are stable and no longer wobble. Your other foot is more than sufficiently in front of the bench.

  4. tighten everything

    Balance is extremely important for Bulgarian split squats. Tightening all your muscles contributes greatly to this. Squeeze the barbell well, tighten your abdomen and buttocks and press your foot firmly into the ground.

  5. Lower down until your knee reaches 90 degrees

    Lower down with the leg on the floor. It is intended that it manages to reach an angle of 90 degrees. The leg that is on the bench should therefore bend so that your knee will just not touch the floor.

  6. Push yourself back up

    Press your heel firmly into the ground as you push back up. Try to push from your front leg as much as possible, since that's where you want to feel the tension. Keep your back straight as you do this.

  7. Repeat as many times as you like and switch legs

    Now you can repeat this move as many times as you want. For example, do this eight to 12 times. Then you have to do the exact same thing, but with your other leg. Then follow all the steps again for the correct execution of the Bulgarian split squat.

Most Common Bulgarian Split Squat Mistakes

Are you in doubt about your performance or are you just curious what often goes wrong? View here the most common mistakes that cause you to perform the exercise less efficiently.

  1. Not standing far enough forward
    What often goes wrong with the Bulgarian split squat is that the person performing it is not standing far enough forward. As a result, the knee of the front leg will pass a 90-degree angle during the lowering. This puts a lot of extra stress on your knee and you can sink deeper than necessary. So try to pay attention that you are not too close to the bench behind you.
  2. Standing too far forward
    In contrast to not standing far enough forward, it is also possible to stand too far forward. In this case, it will be difficult to get a 90-degree angle with your front leg. This too is a common mistake when performing Bulgarian split squats and can easily happen. You do this by testing how much distance you have to keep from the bench.
  3. Not a straight back during the performance
    Another mistake that is often made is not keeping the back straight. You can prevent this by continuing to push the chest well forward during the entire performance. If you continue to focus on this, you will automatically keep your back straight.

    In addition, you should also push your shoulder blades in firmly. This will also keep your back neatly straight during both the downward and upward movement.
  4. Not Maintaining Proper Tension for Balance
    If you don't manage to maintain enough tension during the exercise, you will notice that you tend to fall forward or to the side. This makes the exercise a lot more difficult and you can put much less emphasis on your quadriceps. Therefore, make sure that your abs are well contracted and that you press the bar firmly against the back of your shoulders.

TIP: Also take a look at the explanation of the back squat or front squat. Both are quadriceps exercises that only require a barbell and a squat rack.

Frequently Asked Questions

To complete the explanation of the Bulgarian split squat, we will discuss a number of frequently asked questions here. This way you get concise answers to the most important questions. We will have already addressed some questions in the text, but a brief summary never hurts.

Can you train the buttocks with Bulgarian split squats?

Of course. The quadriceps are not the only muscle group to benefit from this exercise. The glutes are also strongly stimulated. If your goal is to get bigger glutes, then you can definitely add the Bulgarian split squat to your buttocks schedule.

Is the Bulgarian split squat a compound or isolation exercise?

It's a compound exercise. This is because different muscle groups are effectively trained, namely the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. In addition, the muscles in your waist are also used to perform this exercise effectively.

Bulgarian split squat vs a regular split squat, which one is better?

Both exercises are great for training the leg muscles. If you're not that advanced yet, a regular split squat will be a better option. This one is slightly easier to perform. You can easily alternate both exercises in your schedules.

Can you do the Bulgarian split squat in the smith machine?

If you don't feel comfortable doing the regular variant with a barbell yet, you can choose to do it in a smith machine. The big disadvantage of this is that you don't have to pay as much attention to your balance. As a result, you will train your core a lot less, which is of course a shame. If you really prefer a smith machine, you can certainly choose this one. If you have no other preference, we would opt for the regular Bulgarian split squat with a barbell.

Want to try other exercises? View all exercises for quadriceps here.

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