Bulgarian Split Squat Benefits & 6 Variations

Bulgarian Split Squat Benefits & 6 Variations

The split squat is one of the most commonly used movement in many home fitness programs.

Here are few benefits and reasons to incorporate into your training plan:

#1 – You get to work on your balance & your core – The toughest part about bulgarian split squats is not performing the actual movement – it’s getting into position, then maintaining that position while performing the exercise. But this is great, as while your training your legs, you get an amazing core stability workout.

#2 – Gets your heart rate up – You want to choose exercises that get your heart rate up, especially if you’re trying to burn fat. Do a few reps of the bulgarian split squat and you’ll notice your heart starts to pump.

#3 – The Next step from Squats – if you can do 20-30 bodyweight squats without breaking a sweat, then it’s time to switch over to the bulgarian version. Bulgarian split squat provide you with the same benefits as bodyweight squats, plus a few more extras!

#4 – Popular with combat athletes – The bulgarian split squat mimics the fighting stance in most traditional martial arts. It also trains you to balance and work with one leg, making this version of the squat extremely popular with combat athletes.

#5 – Isolate your legs – the obvious benefit is that you can isolate your legs, without having to perform pistol squats. The bulgarian split squat is the perfect midway between pistol and regular squats.

Now legs go over the variations:

1 – Basic Bulgarian Split Squat with Dumbbells

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  • Stand a foot or two away from a bench or the edge of a bed with dumbbells by your sides. Place one foot behind you, on top of the surface.
  • Look straight ahead.  While keeping your dumbbells by your sides, bend your front knee and lower your body as far as it will go.
  • Pause, then return to starting position. Make sure that your front knee does not go past your front toes. If it does, you may need to start a bit further away from the surface.

2 – Basic Bulgarian Split Squat with Barbells

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Once you’ve learned how to perform the basic movement with dumbbells, you can make it tougher with Barbells:

  • Stand a foot or two away from a bench or the edge of a bed with a barbell across your upper back. Place one foot behind you, on top of the surface.
  • Look straight ahead.  While keeping your abs tight, bend your front knee and lower your body as far as it will go.
  • Pause, then return to starting position. Make sure that your front knee does not go past your front toes. If it does, you may need to start a bit further away from the surface.
  • Make sure to start off with light weights.
  • It is best to perform this movement with a smith machine, if you have access.

3 – Bulgarian Split Squat Jumps

Here’s an explosive variation of the bulgarian split squat. Looks a little funny, but a deadly difficult movement:

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  • Stand a foot or two away from a bench or the edge of a bed with your hands on your hips. Place one foot behind you, on top of the surface.
  • Look straight ahead.  Bend your front knee and lower your body as far as it will go.
  • Pause, then return to starting position. Make sure that your front knee does not go past your front toes. If it does, you may need to start a bit further away from the surface.

4 – Bulgarian Split Leg Deadlift

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Watch this:

  • Stand a foot or two away from a bench or the edge of a bed with a barbell on the ground in front of you. Place one foot behind you, on top of the surface.
  • Look straight ahead.  Bend your front knee and lower your body as far as it will go. This is your starting position. From here, grab the barbell, then deadlift the weight with one leg.
  • Pause, then slowly lower the weight to starting position. Make sure you start off with a light weight to try out this movement.

5 – Bodyweight Split Squat

This is a bodyweight version that does not require any sort of equipment at all. Not even a step:

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  • Stand with one foot front and one foot back in a split stance. Place your hands on your hips.
  • Look straight ahead.  From here, lower your body until your rear leg touches the floor, and your front knee is in a 90 degree angle.
  • Pause, then slowly return to starting position.

6 – Front Leg Elevated Bulgarian Split Squat

This final variation focuses on increasing your range of motion:

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  • Stand with one foot on an elevated object and one foot behind you on a split stance. Place your hands on your hips or hold dumbbells out to your sides.
  • Look straight ahead.  From here, lower your body until your rear leg touches the floor.
  • Pause, then slowly return to starting position.

As mentioned earlier, the Bulgarian Split Squat is popular among combat athletes. One such athlete is Scott Sonnon, who is an International Champion in Sambo, Sanshou, JuiJitsu, Submission Grappling, and MMA. Check out one of his workouts using this movement:

Scott Sonnon has some great TacFit Workouts covered on this blog: