How to do a Bulgarian split squat correctly

How to do a Bulgarian split squat correctly

Do you want to increase the strength in your legs even further? Well, look no further than the Bulgarian split squat! This challenging exercise targets your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and stabilizer muscles all in one go. Whether you’re a beginner in strength training or a seasoned pro, mastering the Bulgarian split squat can greatly benefit your lower body strength and stability.

What is a Bulgarian Split Squat?

The Bulgarian split squat, also known as the rear foot elevated split squat, is a variation of the traditional squat exercise. Instead of standing with both feet on the ground, this exercise involves placing one foot behind you on an elevated surface, such as a bench or step, while the other foot remains firmly planted on the floor. This unique positioning allows for greater muscle activation and range of motion.

Setting Up for Success
Preventing and treating exercise-related injuries

Before diving into the Bulgarian split squat, it’s important to set yourself up for success. Here’s how to get started

Find a stable elevated surface

Locate a bench, step, or sturdy platform that is around knee height. This will serve as your support for the back foot.

Position your feet

Stand about two to three feet in front of the elevated surface, with your feet hip-width apart. Point your toes forward and ensure your weight is evenly distributed between both feet.

Take a step back

Lift one foot off the ground and take a large step backward, placing the top of your foot on the bench or step. Your front foot should remain planted firmly on the ground.

Square your hips

Adjust your stance so that your feet are in line with your hips and your toes are pointing forward. Throughout the exercise, this will support the maintenance of correct alignment.

Get ready to squat

Brace your core, engage your glutes, and maintain an upright posture. Your chest should be lifted and your shoulders relaxed. Now, you’re ready to begin!

Proper Form and Execution
How to do a Bulgarian split squat correctly

Executing the Bulgarian split squat with proper form is crucial to ensure maximum benefits and prevent injury. Let’s break down the key steps

Engage your core

Before lowering yourself into a squat, pull your belly button in the direction of your spine to activate your core muscles. This will provide stability and support throughout the exercise.

Lower your body

Begin the movement by bending your front knee and hip, lowering your body towards the ground. Throughout the exercise, keep your back straight and your torso upright.

Control the descent

Be mindful of controlling the descent and maintaining a slow and controlled tempo. Avoid dropping down quickly, as this can place unnecessary stress on your knee joints.

Reach proper depth

Aim to lower your back knee towards the ground until it hovers just above the floor. Your thigh should be parallel to the floor and your front knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle. This ensures optimal engagement of your leg muscles.

Drive through your front foot

As you reach the bottom position, push through your front foot to return to the starting position. Focus on driving through your heel to activate your glutes and hamstrings.

Repeat on the other side

After completing the desired number of reps on one leg, switch sides and repeat the exercise with the other leg.

Common Mistakes to Avoid
How to do Bulgarian squats correctly

While the Bulgarian split squat may seem straightforward, there are a few common mistakes to be mindful of. By avoiding these errors, you can maximize your results and minimize the risk of injury. The following are some dangers to avoid

Knee instability

Make sure your front knee stays in line with your toes throughout the exercise. Avoid allowing your knee to cave inward or extend beyond your toes, as this can place excessive stress on your knee joint.

Uneven weight distribution

Maintain an even distribution of weight between your front and back foot. It’s common to unintentionally shift more weight onto the front leg, which compromises the effectiveness of the exercise. Focus on keeping both feet grounded throughout the movement.

Hunching or rounding your back

 Keep your spine neutral and avoid hunching or rounding the upper back. This helps maintain proper form and reduces the risk of back pain or injury.

Insufficient range of motion

Strive to achieve proper depth in your squat without compromising form. If you can’t lower your back knee close to the ground while maintaining good alignment, consider modifying the exercise by elevating the back foot to a lesser height.

Progressions and Variations
How to do Bulgarian split squat correctly

Once you’ve mastered the basic Bulgarian split squat, you can experiment with progressions and variations to continually challenge your muscles and prevent plateauing. Here are some points to consider.

Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, hanging by your sides, as you perform the split squat. This adds resistance and increases the difficulty of the exercise.

Bulgarian split squat with barbell

 Place a barbell across your upper back, similar to the positioning in a traditional back squat. This variation increases the overall load and intensifies the exercise.

Explosive Bulgarian split squat

Instead of a slow and controlled descent, explosively drive through your front foot to jump off the ground. Switch legs mid-air and land softly in the starting position. This plyometric variation enhances power and explosiveness.

Single-leg Bulgarian split squat

For an extra challenge, try performing the exercise with only one leg. Lift your back foot off the bench or step, balancing on your front leg throughout the movement. This variation increases core engagement and requires greater stability.


Congratulations! You’re now equipped with the knowledge and techniques to perform the Bulgarian split squat with proper form and precision. Remember to start with a stable surface, engage your core, and maintain an upright posture throughout the exercise. Avoid common mistakes and explore progressions to continually challenge your muscles and take your leg strength to new heights. By incorporating the Bulgarian split squat into your strength training routine, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your fitness goals and transforming your lower body strength. So, why wait? Lace up your sneakers, grab a bench, and get ready to take your squats to the next level!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *