The Bulgarian Split Squat. They’re grueling at the best of times.
Even unloaded, Bulgarian split squats—or rear-foot elevated split squats—will have you feeling your quads, glutes, hamstrings, abs and erectors in your back working hard to help you build stability, balance and strength.
Step 1: Start by assuming a split squat stance and elevating your rear foot, either on a box or a bench.
Step 2: Descend into a lunge position until your front thigh is parallel to the ground and your front shin is perpendicular to the ground (i.e. make sure you keep your front knee behind your toes). Keep your torso neutral and slightly leaned forward.
Tip: As you’re descending, think about sending your hips straight down like you’re lowering yourself into a hole.
Step 3: Use the front leg to return to full extension—focus on driving into the ground with your front foot—to return to your starting position.
The Bulgarian, or Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat, is a great movement to:
If adding load and elevating your back leg onto a box or bench is too challenging, try:
On the other hand, once you are ready to add some load and some elevation, some great variations include:
1. Dumbbell, or kettlebell, front rack rear-foot elevated split squat, or split squat
2. Farmer hold dumbbell, or kettlebell, rear-foot elevated split squat
3. Barbell (front rack or back rack) rear-foot elevated split squat
Here’s a sample lower body training session that includes some Bulgarian split squats, along with some accessory work to target the glutes and core.
A1. Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat, @2121, 6 reps per leg x 5 sets; rest 90 seconds between each leg
B1. Banded Glute Bridge, @20X0, 20 reps x 5 sets; rest 60 seconds
B2. Single Leg Wall Sit Hold, 30 seconds per leg x 5 sets; rest 60 seconds
The Bulgarian Split Squat can be a great exercise, but it’s not always the best option for every client.
To choose the best exercise for every individual, you need to understand how to assess a client’s movement, periodize their program, and progress it over time.
Thankfully these are all skills that can easily be learned. Sign up for our free Fitness Coaching Course today and learn how to create personalized training programs that drive results.