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How to master the Bulgarian split squat with the correct form

When it comes to training the lower body, not all exercises are created equal. However, the Bulgarian squat is a move that gives you great value for money. It’s a great exercise when working your quads and glutes and can be done with just your body weight and a sturdy bench or chair.

That said, it’s not the easiest exercise to master, so it’s best to learn how to do it properly before trying to add weight to the movement. Below, we’ve got some tips from sweat trainer Kayla Itsines to help you master your form in the Bulgarian Split Squat, along with the benefits of the exercise and a few variations to try.

What is the Bulgarian Split Squat?

The Bulgarian split squat is a variation of the single-leg squat where you lift your back leg off the ground. This is a great exercise for the quads, and it also requires a lot of balance, which requires you to use your core.

Do the Bulgarian Split Squat

Do the Bulgarian squat and stand facing a chair or step. You are about two feet from the chair, and your feet should be hip-width apart. Lift your right leg and place it on the chair behind you. You can lean the ball of your foot against the chair with your ankle on the edge of the chair, or flex your ankle and balance on the ball of your foot. Try each version to find the one that works best for you and your body.

Illustration of a woman doing Bulgarian split squat

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Make sure your feet are still hip-width apart, with your hips facing forward. Stacking your front foot in a line with your back foot will make your balance more difficult. As you would on a lunge, engage your core and bend your left knee. Pause at the bottom, then return to the starting position. Make sure to do the same number of reps on each side for balance.

The hardest part of the Bulgarian Split Squat is getting your legs in the correct position. Remember you’re working your front leg; your back leg only provides some stability in this exercise.

If you’re struggling to get your legs in the right position, SWEAT app co-founder and trainer Kayla Itsines shares a simple trick that’s been viewed 43,000 times on her TikTok channel. Start by standing in front of a chair or step and place one leg on the chair. Sit on your feet and walk forward with your front legs, placing your feet on the floor. Then stand up and squat.

@kayla_itsines

♬ Original Sound – Kayla Itsines

Another common mistake is to lean too far forward during a workout: keep your core engaged, torso upright, and looking straight ahead. Leaning slightly forward is fine, but leaning too far puts extra pressure on the front knee.

What are the benefits of the Bulgarian Split Squat?

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a compound exercise, which means you can work multiple muscle groups at the same time, making it a great exercise for your lower body routine. When done with proper form, it should target the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abs, and erector spinae. As mentioned above, you’ll probably work your quads and core harder than you would with a bodyweight squat or lunge, because you’re forcing your body to balance with one leg during this movement.

The Bulgarian squat is also a one-sided movement because you are actively working one side of your body at a time. This can help you correct imbalances in your body, which is especially important for runners or lifters who may have a stronger side. Strengthening the weaker side can help the body restore balance and prevent long-term injury.

What variations of the Bulgarian Split Squat are there to try?

Once you master the form, you can make this exercise more difficult by adding weight to the movement by holding a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells in your hands.we discover best adjustable dumbbells Lift weights at home.

Remember, this is a moderate-weight exercise, so if you find it too hard, go back to lunges and weighted lunges and build your leg strength first.


Looking for more exercise inspiration? We’ve found the best arm exercises to build your arms without weights, common squat mistakes you can make, and the best exercises to strengthen your lower back.

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How to master the Bulgarian split squat with the correct form

When it comes to working the lower body, not all exercises are created equal. One that gets you a lot of bang for your buck, however, is the Bulgarian split squat. It’s a brilliant exercise when it comes to working your quads and glutes, and it can be done using just your bodyweight and a bench, or sturdy chair. 
That said, it’s not the easiest exercise to master, so it’s a good idea to read up on how to do it correctly before attempting to add weights to the move. Below, we’ve got advice from Sweat trainer Kayla Itsines on how to master your form during the Bulgarian split squat, as well as the benefits of the exercise, and the different variations to try. 
What is a Bulgarian split squat?
The Bulgarian split squat is a variation of a single-leg squat, where you elevate your back leg off the ground. This is a great exercise for targeting the quads, and it also requires a lot of balance, which requires you to engage your core. 
How to do a Bulgarian split squat 
To do a Bulgarian split squat, stand in front of a chair or step. You’ll be roughly two feet from the chair, and your feet should be hip-width apart. Lift your right leg, and put it on the chair behind you. You can either lie the top of your foot on the chair, so your ankle joint is on the edge of the chair, or flex your ankle, and balance on the ball of your foot. Try each version and work out which feels best for you and your body. 

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
Make sure your feet are still roughly hip-distance apart, with your hips facing forward. Stacking your front foot in line with your back foot can make it even more difficult to balance. Engage your core, and bend your left knee, as you would in a lunge. Pause at the bottom, then drive back up to your starting position. Make sure you perform the same number of repetitions on each side to keep things even. 
The hardest part of the Bulgarian split squat is getting your legs into the right position. Remember, you’re working the front leg — your back leg is just offering some stability in this exercise. 
If you’re struggling to get your legs into the right position, Sweat app co-founder and trainer Kayla Itsines has shared one simple hack that has been viewed 43K times on her TikTok channel. Start by standing in front of a chair or step, and place one leg on the chair. Sit back on your foot, and step your front leg forward into position, grounding the foot into the floor. Then stand up and perform the squat.

@kayla_itsines
♬ original sound – Kayla Itsines
Another common mistake is leaning too far forward during the exercise — keep your core engaged, your torso upright and your gaze forward. A slight lean is fine, but leaning too far will put additional strain on your front knee.  
What are the benefits of Bulgarian split squats?
The Bulgarian split squat is a compound exercise, meaning you’re working multiple muscle groups at the same time, making it a brilliant one to add to your lower body routine. If done with the correct form, you should target the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, and spinal erector muscles. As mentioned above, you’re likely to work your quads and core harder than you would do during bodyweight squats or lunges, as you’re forcing your body to balance in this single-leg move. 
Bulgarian split squats are also a unilateral movement, as you’re actively training one side of the body at a time. This can help you fix imbalances in your body, which is especially important for runners, or lifters, who might have a stronger side. Strengthening the weaker side can help make the body more balanced, and avoid injuries in the long run.
What are the Bulgarian split squat variations to try? 
Once you’ve mastered the form, you can make this exercise harder by adding weights to the move by holding a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells in your hands. We’ve found the best adjustable dumbbells for weightlifting at home here. 
Remember, this is an intermediate exercise, so if you’re finding them too difficult, go back to performing lunges and weighted lunges to work on your leg strength first. 
Looking for more workout inspiration? We’ve found the best arm exercise to build your guns without weights, the common squat mistake you’re probably making, and the best exercises to try to strengthen your lower back.

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