How to do Bulgarian Split Squats Correctly and Safely

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INTRODUCTION

Single Leg Training is an exercise pattern that is often overlooked in many training programs. Any lower body exercise that allows you to train each side of your body individually provides many unique benefits.  Most importantly, they are great for unilateral strength development, and they allow you to identify any imbalances that may exist between your legs. Furthermore, single leg training lends itself to many real-world applications as we are often relying on one side of our body in our day to day activities.

The Bulgarian Split Squat (BSS) is an awesome exercise that allows you to train the squat pattern while incorporating strength and stability in the upper body and core.

BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT FORM VIDEO

BENEFITS OF THE BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT

  • Trains each leg individually, exposing and improving any potential imbalances that exist from side to side

  • The Split Squat introduces a challenging Squat alternative for anyone who has any nagging aches and pains

  • Improves overall core stability and total body balance

MUSCLES WORKED DURING THE SPLIT SQAT

  • Quadriceps

  • Adductors

  • Glutes

  • Core

PERFORMING THE SPLIT SQUAT WITH GOOD TECHNIQUE

  • Pick up two dumbbells and hold them at your sides

  • Stand approximately 2 feet away from a bench/chair

  • Position one leg behind you, resting the dorsal surface of your foot on the bench

  • Readjust your front foot as needed so that your front leg will be at a 90-degree angle when you squat down

  • Stand up tall, brace your core and begin bending at the knee of the working leg

  • It is okay to let the knee of the working leg translate forward, but do not let your knee move inwards

  • When looking from the side, your front knee should be at 90-degree angle to the floor

  • The knee of your back leg may or may not touch the ground depending on your flexibility and how high the bench is

  • You will reach the end range once you feel a nice stretch along the anterior hip of the back leg

 

  • Keep your spine neutral and your core braced throughout the lift

  • Reverse the movement by pushing off and straightening the knee of the front leg

  • Do not allow any medial translation of the working knee at any point

  • Do not allow any change in your spinal alignment

COMMON MISTAKES

ALLOWING THE SPINAL ALIGNMENT TO CHANGE

  • Brace your core and maintain this tightness throughout the repetition.

  • Focus on keeping your upper body completely still while going through the squat

  • Lower the weight if necessary.

ALLOWING MEDIAL TRANSLATION OF THE WORKING KNEE

  • It is permissible to have forward movement of the knee over the toe but not an inward movement.

  • This pattern is extremely common amongst trainees and puts a lot of stress on the meniscus and medial ligaments.

  • Lower the weight if necessary to keep the knee well aligned with the rest of your joints

HOW CAN I INTEGRATE THE BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT INTO MY TRAINING?

Check out The WCT Best Workout Template For Busy Professionals to find a simple way to add the bulgarian split squat and other great exercises into your routine.

SPLIT SQUT CHALLENGE

Perform 50% of your body weight for 8 repetitions each leg

BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT ALTERNATIVES

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Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, a NASM CPT, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy individuals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader's Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

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