How to Do the Bulgarian Split Squat for Leg Size, Strength, and Mobility

Maximum devoted lifters display as much as the fitness center in a position to do what it takes to paintings against their targets. But it surely’s now not all the time amusing and video games, and a few workout routines are approached with much less enthusiasm than others. Leg day generally separates goal-focused lifters from those that’d get a tongue tattoo fairly than educate. Many leg workouts … Learn extra
The put up Methods to Do the Bulgarian Break up Squat for Leg Dimension, Energy, and Mobility seemed first on Breaking Muscle.

Maximum devoted lifters display as much as the fitness center in a position to do what it takes to paintings against their targets. But it surely’s now not all the time amusing and video games, and a few workout routines are approached with much less enthusiasm than others.

Leg day generally separates goal-focused lifters from those that’d get a tongue tattoo fairly than educate. Many leg exercises take a look at psychological fortitude up to muscular skill, and the Bulgarian break up squat is one among them.

shirtless person in dark gym performing exercise on one leg
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Also known as the very wordy “rear foot increased break up squat” or RFESS, the Bulgarian break up squat combines single-leg coaching with an extended vary of movement (for a deep stretch) to construct dimension, energy, and total-body steadiness. Right here’s why this motion must discover a spot to your subsequent leg exercise.

Methods to Do the Bulgarian Break up Squat

The Bulgarian break up squat might seem intimidating because of the stability issue, however with a correct setup and a couple of explicit cues, you’ll be knocking out reps in a robust, strong place. Right here’s what to concentrate on.

Step 1 — Set Up the One-Legged Stance

Sit down sideways on a flat bench whilst retaining a couple of dumbbells. Lengthen each legs directly and plant your heels at the flooring. Position the foot of your operating leg flat at the flooring as you rise up with out shifting your ft from their spots at the flooring.

Position your non-working leg at the bench together with your shoelaces down. Stabilize your physique and pull your shoulders again to stay your self upright. Permit the dumbbells to hold directly through your aspects together with your arms going through in against your physique.

Shape tip: If a typical flat bench is just too top to conveniently position your leg, use a decline bench and position your foot at a decrease and simpler top. You’ll be able to additionally use a plyo field. 

Step 2 — Squat Beneath Keep watch over

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Take a deep breath, flex your core for additonal steadiness, and bend your entrance leg to squat down. Stay your shoulders pulled again and your torso upright. Stay your shoelaces involved with the bench always and don’t upward thrust onto your ft. Within the backside place, your rear knee must method the bottom, in case your mobility permits.

As you descend, the hip flexors of the rear leg will go through a vital stretch which some lifters to find uncomfortable. By no means pressure your physique right into a place it’s combating towards. Through the years, your mobility will make stronger, and your physique will adapt.

Shape tip: Earlier than you start the workout, imagine striking a towel or foam block beneath the spot your rear knee will finally end up. This will give you a goal for constant intensity and gives to cushion if you descend too briefly and by accident break your knee into the bottom. 

Step 3 — Stand to Lockout

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Stay your entrance foot flat at the flooring and press via to go back to a status place. Transfer at a managed tempo to steer clear of being knocked off stability. Focal point on riding via your entrance foot and use the again leg passively to care for stability.

Within the peak place, your entrance leg must be locked directly, and your rear leg must be bent at a slight herbal perspective.

Shape tip: As you progress throughout the rep, stay your eyes locked on one mounted level immediately in entrance of you, whether or not at the wall, at the flooring, or a random dumbbell rack in entrance of your bench. Specializing in a desk bound object allow you to care for a way of stability. Steer clear of remaining your eyes, which may make it more difficult to stability.

Bulgarian Break up Squat Errors to Steer clear of

For the reason that break up squat calls for extra coordination than different workouts, there are a number of commonplace method mistakes that lifters can run into. The stability element of the workout calls for further consideration to element. The use of a relatively slower lifting velocity to descend and stand too can assist to concentrate on correct shape.

Urgent with Your Rear Foot

The leg that’s planted at the flooring will obtain probably the most muscle activation. Your rear leg must be used basically for stability and steadiness, to not carry your physique from the ground place.

person in home gym performing single-leg squat
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Curiously, a little analysis has proven that even supposing you do attempt to force up during the rear leg, it’s merely now not efficient and doesn’t give a contribution to energy or muscle enlargement. (1) Additionally, urgent exhausting with the rear leg might throw you off-balance, making it counterproductive.

Steer clear of it: Make sure to stay the shoelaces of your again foot at the bench and use your rear leg to care for steadiness.

Hopping Round Too A lot

Whilst the Bulgarian break up squat does require some sense of stability, wobbling and readjusting between particular person reps could also be important. If it occurs excessively, as an example, greater than two or thrice in one set, you’ll be spending an excessive amount of time desirous about stability and now not sufficient time constructing energy.

two people exercising outdoors
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Too many corrections between reps too can cut back the muscle tissue’ time beneath stress, which is able to cut back the muscle-building stimulus.

Steer clear of it: Use the method cue in step one of the vital how-to phase to in most cases gauge your stance distance. Sit down at the bench, prolong your ft, plant them in position, and rise up. Carry out a number of bodyweight-only repetitions to fine-tune your stance earlier than choosing up dumbbells on your operating set.

Leaning Ahead

To be truthful, it is a “mistake with an asterisk.” That means, it’s technically a mistake in case your target is to focus on the quadriceps muscle tissue at the entrance of your thighs, which is the commonest objective of this workout. Leaning your higher physique ahead as you squat alters your physique’s leverage and decreases quadriceps activation.

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Alternatively, in case your target is to focus on your glutes, then leaning your ahead will also be the precise factor to do. It shifts your middle of gravity and creates extra of a hip hinge or deadlift-type place which turns on the glutes and hamstrings extra considerably.

Steer clear of it: Know that leaning ahead as you squat down shifts the workout from a quad-builder to a glute-builder. If that’s your target and also you’re leaning intentionally to focus on explicit muscle tissue, no downside. But when your target is to construct your quads and also you’re leaning ahead to stability your self, you then’re the use of incorrect method.

Advantages of the Bulgarian Break up Squat

This motion is a unilateral (single-leg) workout which is helping to deal with muscular imbalances and energy discrepancies between legs.


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Over the long-term, all these workouts can construct extra well-rounded building and might cut back the danger of harm. Listed below are some extra convincing causes to include this workout.

Leg Dimension

The Bulgarian break up squat permits you to focal point paintings onto the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings of the operating leg. (2) As a result of each and every leg is operating for my part throughout a suite, the total muscular stress and muscle-building stimulus is larger in comparison to operating each legs concurrently throughout an workout.

The Bulgarian break up squat has additionally been proven to be much less hectic to the knee joint in comparison to two-legged workouts just like the back squat, making it a better option for lifters coping with joint ache. (3)

Leg Energy

Maximum lifters consider you want to load heavy weights onto a barbell if you wish to construct severe energy. Alternatively, the unilateral Bulgarian break up squat can ship similar strength and power positive aspects in comparison to bilateral (two-legged) workouts. (4)

Treating the Bulgarian break up squat as a heavy primary raise whilst keeping up sound method will also be an especially efficient solution to cause new energy positive aspects.

Decrease Frame Mobility

Lifting weights is continuously prioritized over stretching or mobility paintings as a result of, let’s face it, stretching simply isn’t too relaxing for some folks. Alternatively, mobility and versatility coaching will also be simply as necessary for long-term joint well being.

For the reason that Bulgarian break up squat places the rear leg right into a stretched place, it’s necessarily a “loose stretching consultation,” particularly for the hip flexors. Stretching the hip flexors is related to lowered decrease again ache and progressed total energy efficiency. (5)

Muscle tissues Labored through Bulgarian Break up Squat

Like many squat permutations, the Bulgarian break up squat turns on all muscle tissue of the leg to various levels.

person in gym performing single-leg squat
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Whilst positive method changes can shift the objective muscle focal point, it’s basically thought to be an workout for the quadriceps.


The quads, at the entrance of the thigh, are the biggest muscle at the leg. They serve as basically to increase your knee and straighten your leg. The Bulgarian break up squat works the quadriceps all the way through all the repetition, most importantly within the higher vary of movement as you method a status, locked out place.


The glutes basically paintings to increase your hip (straighten your leg from the hips down) and to regulate leg rotation on the hip joint. The Bulgarian break up squat turns on either one of those purposes as you upward thrust out of the ground place, whilst additionally stabilizing your leg to care for stability. (6)


Whilst the Bulgarian break up squat is most often thought to be a quadriceps-focused workout, the hamstrings are engaged and activated throughout each and every repetition. Your hamstrings paintings to bend your knees and (at the side of your glutes) prolong your hips.

The ground portion of the workout recruits the hamstrings considerably to sluggish your descent and begin your transition to rise up.

Adductors and Abductors

Your adductors and abductors are your “internal thigh” and “outer thigh” muscle tissue, respectively. They regulate leg motion, accurately, in against your centerline or clear of it. Right through the Bulgarian break up squat, those muscle tissue are continuously activated to care for stability as they micro-adjust to stay the knee of your operating leg from buckling in or out.

Who Must Do the Bulgarian Break up Squat

The Bulgarian break up has received a burst of recognition in recent times, being utilized by top-level aggressive bodybuilders, elite powerlifters, CrossFit champions, and world-class athletes in numerous sports activities. Protected to mention, it has one thing to provide for everybody.

Body-Targeted Lifters

Any individual taking a look to pack dimension onto their legs can use the Bulgarian break up squat as a key participant of their decrease physique exercise. This workout supplies a vital enlargement stimulus to almost each leg muscle, with the exception of for the calves which don’t go through any important vary of movement throughout the motion.

Basic Sports activities Athletes

Energy and conditioning coaches in conventional sports activities had been introducing unilateral workouts just like the Bulgarian break up squat to construct energy and athletic energy with out important joint pressure. Incorporating unilateral decrease physique coaching has been proven to make stronger energy output in comparison to focusing only on bilateral coaching. (7)

Energy Athletes

Aggressive powerlifters, strongmen and strongwomen, CrossFit athletes, and different energy athletes don’t have to raise super-heavy to get super-strong. The Bulgarian break up squat has been proven to be as advisable for again squat energy as particularly again squatting. (4)

This makes the Bulgarian break up squat a perfect motion for lifters who wish to keep on the right track with energy positive aspects whilst lowering put on and tear on their joints.

Methods to Program the Bulgarian Break up Squat

For the reason that Bulgarian break up squat will also be helpful for various targets, it may be programmed a number of alternative ways. Listed below are one of the best plans to suit the workout into your regimen.

Reasonable Weight, Reasonable Repetition

Coaching this workout the use of two or 3 units of 8 to twelve reps delivers an optimum coaching stimulus for muscle enlargement. (8) As a result of your rear leg is largely resting whilst your entrance leg is operating, you’ll considerably minimize down on coaching time through resting 30 seconds or much less between each and every leg as a substitute of an extended, extra conventional relaxation length after operating each legs consecutively. This is an efficient intensity-boosting method.

Heavy Weight, Low Repetition

After getting an figuring out of fundamental method, take a look at acting 3 or 4 units of 4 to 6 reps with a slightly heavy weight. Going excessively heavy can negatively have an effect on method, however drawing near muscular fatigue within the 4 to 6 rep vary is a enough window to cause energy positive aspects with out compromising shape.

Bulgarian Break up Squat Permutations

The Bulgarian break up squat with dumbbells could also be too tough for some lifters, or now not difficult sufficient for others. Listed below are some in a similar way efficient choices to imagine.

Lure Bar Bulgarian Break up Squat

The use of a entice bar to accomplish the motion opens the opportunity of loading a lot heavier weights, making it excellent for skilled lifters who wish to construct severe single-leg energy.

Relying to your arm and leg duration, the entice bar must now not make touch together with your rear leg at any level throughout the workout. Carry out the workout slowly with an unloaded bar to test your personal vary of movement.

Protection Bar Bulgarian Break up Squat

The security bar is often referred to as a lifter’s secret weapon as it permits lots of the identical advantages of squatting with a directly barbell, plus some added bonuses. The thick bar pad raises the load out of your middle of gravity, which will increase recruitment of the higher again muscle tissue. The ahead handles additionally cut back shoulder pressure through permitting a extra herbal gripping place.

With this Bulgarian break up squat variation, keeping up an upright torso will likely be much more necessary since the bar will paintings to cave in you ahead. This makes it a perfect workout for enhancing strict quad-building method.

Plyometric Bulgarian Break up Squat

This explosive leaping motion is perfect for athletes taking a look to construct agility and tool. It’s additionally a extremely efficient selection for any lifters taking a look to fan the flames of their apprehensive device for progressed efficiency previous to heavy lifting. (9)

Start with body weight solely — including resistance with dumbbells or a weighted vest is for extremely skilled lifters. Focal point on making use of most energy to succeed in top with each and every soar.

Bulgarian Break up Squat Choices

Some lifters aren’t in a position to accomplish the Bulgarian break up squat because of immobility, coordination problems, or different components. Those are some comparably efficient single-leg workouts for dimension and energy.

Opposite Lunge

The reverse lunge permits you to focal point on one leg at a time whilst lowering knee joint pressure. This motion additionally is helping to get rid of the stability element of the workout, making it a better option for lifters who had bother balancing on one foot at some point of a suite.

Numerous different lunge permutations may be used — ahead lunge, strolling lunge, and so forth. — however the opposite lunge is one of the best and maximum basic motion for almost all of lifters.


The step-up will also be extremely efficient when carried out appropriately. Sadly, it’s continuously carried out incorrectly which compromises its advantages. It’s crucial to concentrate on riding up during the increased foot, now not the foot at the flooring.

Many lifters make the error of bouncing off their backside foot, which generates momentum and decreases the paintings completed through the leg on peak of the field.

Unmarried-Leg Leg Press

That is probably the most strong and least balance-demanding workout of the lot. The leg press supplies whole steadiness whilst nonetheless permitting single-leg targeted coaching. This motion additionally permits a vital load for use as it’s now not supported through your again, shoulders, or palms.

Be certain that to sit down totally within the chair beef up. Don’t rotate, shift, or twist whilst urgent with the operating leg as a result of you’ll build up the danger of harm.


I believe my again leg operating greater than my entrance leg. How do I repair it?

That is continuously because of deficient hip flexor mobility, which is a commonplace factor for plenty of lifters. The Bulgarian break up squat places the rear leg right into a pressured stretch place.

For those who lately lack mobility, that muscle would be the “vulnerable level” and also you’ll really feel fatigue or discomfort there earlier than the objective muscle is adequately educated. Your physique will adapt and make stronger as you apply the workout, simply you should definitely paintings inside of a relaxed vary of movement and steadily push your self.

Why does this workout make me extra sore than every other leg workout?

A number of variables give a contribution to “behind schedule onset muscle soreness” or DOMS, which is the technical time period for post-workout soreness. One of the important reasons is the eccentric pressure which happens when a weight is diminished or a muscle is lengthened. (10)

Whilst each workout has an eccentric section, the Bulgarian break up squat is most often carried out at a slightly slower tempo with a purpose to care for stability and focal point. This will increase the period of the eccentric and will build up DOMS.

This doesn’t imply you must decrease your self briefly, as a result of that may be counterproductive and reduce the muscle-building stimulus. Your physique will adapt, particularly when supported through plentiful diet for enlargement and service.

Step Again to Get a Leg Up

Whether or not you name it the Bulgarian break up squat, the rear foot increased break up squat, the RFESS, or the “weeble wobble one-leg bench squat,” keep it up and also you’ll quickly be calling it your price tag to larger, more potent legs. Don’t let a little bit stability requirement scare you clear of this robust and productive motion.


  1. Helme, M., Emmonds, S., & Low, C. (2022). Is the Rear Foot Increased Break up Squat Unilateral? An Investigation Into the Kinetic and Kinematic Calls for. Magazine of energy and conditioning analysis, 36(7), 1781–1787.
  2. McCurdy, Kevin. (2017). Methodology, Variation, and Development of the Rear-Foot-Increased Break up Squat. Energy and Conditioning Magazine. 39. 1. 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000319. 
  3. Mackey, E. R., & Riemann, B. L. (2021). Biomechanical Variations Between the Bulgarian Break up-Squat and Again Squat. Global magazine of workout science, 14(1), 533–543.
  4. Speirs, D. E., Bennett, M. A., Finn, C. V., & Turner, A. P. (2016). Unilateral vs. Bilateral Squat Coaching for Energy, Sprints, and Agility in Academy Rugby Gamers. Magazine of energy and conditioning analysis, 30(2), 386–392.
  5. Konrad, A., Močnik, R., Titze, S., Nakamura, M., & Tilp, M. (2021). The Affect of Stretching the Hip Flexor Muscle tissues on Efficiency Parameters. A Systematic Assessment with Meta-Research. Global magazine of environmental analysis and public well being, 18(4), 1936.
  6. McCurdy, Kevin; Walker, John; Kelly, Camila; Polinski, Michael. Hip and Knee Extensor Activation Right through the Hip Thrust and Rear-Foot–Increased Break up Squat in Educated Ladies. Magazine of Energy and Conditioning Analysis: Would possibly 2021 – Quantity 35 – Factor 5 – p 1201-1207 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000004035
  7. Ramirez-Campillo, Rodrigo & Burgos, Carlos & Henríquez-Olguín, Carlos & Andrade, David & Martínez, Cristian & Álvarez, Cristian & Castro-Sepulveda, Mauricio & Marques, Mário & Izquierdo, Mikel. (2015). Impact of Unilateral, Bilateral, and Mixed Plyometric Coaching on Explosive and Staying power Efficiency of Younger Football Gamers. The Magazine of Energy and Conditioning Analysis. 29. 1317–1328. 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000762. 
  8. Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, Okay., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance Coaching Quantity Complements Muscle Hypertrophy however No longer Energy in Educated Males. Drugs and science in sports activities and workout, 51(1), 94–103.
  9. Davies, G., Riemann, B. L., & Manske, R. (2015). CURRENT CONCEPTS OF PLYOMETRIC EXERCISE. Global magazine of sports activities bodily remedy10(6), 760–786.
  10. Lieber, Richard & Fridén, Jan. (2002). Morphologic and Mechanical Foundation of Not on time-Onset Muscle Soreness. The Magazine of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 10. 67-73. 10.5435/00124635-200201000-00009.

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The put up How to Do the Bulgarian Split Squat for Leg Size, Strength, and Mobility seemed first on Breaking Muscle.

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