5 Split Squat Variations to Level up Your Training

The Bulgarian Split Squat will improve your single-leg strength, balance, coordination, trunk and spine stabilization, and even mobility.

The Bulgarian Split Squat, also commonly referred to as the Rear Foot-Elevated Split Squat, accomplishes many objectives, such as improving single-leg strength, balance, coordination, trunk and spine stabilization, and even mobility.

This movement can also be used a great indicator, or a strength exercise you test to ensure you're making progress with your client's goals. With that said, not everyone should perform the movement with the same intention or by the same means. An athlete is not going to have the same training goals or movement requirements as a housewife with three kids, but they can all be challenged with a single-leg movement pattern. There are other Bulgarian Split Squat variations that can be used in a program to progress the client, focus on a specific adaptation, or simply spice up the training session.

Side note—this movement works best when the barbell is slightly elevated off the ground. Using bumper plates or small boxes can help elevate the barbell.

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The Bulgarian Split Squat, also commonly referred to as the Rear Foot-Elevated Split Squat, accomplishes many objectives, such as improving single-leg strength, balance, coordination, trunk and spine stabilization, and even mobility.

This movement can also be used a great indicator, or a strength exercise you test to ensure you're making progress with your client's goals. With that said, not everyone should perform the movement with the same intention or by the same means. An athlete is not going to have the same training goals or movement requirements as a housewife with three kids, but they can all be challenged with a single-leg movement pattern. There are other Bulgarian Split Squat variations that can be used in a program to progress the client, focus on a specific adaptation, or simply spice up the training session.

1. DB Bulgarian Split Squat with Front Raise

  • Stand with a pair of dumbbells by your side, rear foot elevated on the bench.
  • As you lower yourself toward the ground, raise dumbbells to shoulder height.
  • Drive through the front heel to return to starting position while simultaneously returning your dumbbells to your side.

2. Barbell Bulgarian Split Squat from Floor

  • Stand with your front foot over and in the center of the barbell, rear foot elevated back on the bench.
  • Engage the lift by pulling your chest up and driving through your front heel to bring the bar behind your leg.
  • Pause and maintain control at the top before lowering back to the ground to complete the rep.

Side note—this movement works best when the barbell is slightly elevated off the ground. Using bumper plates or small boxes can help elevate the barbell.

3. Hex Bar Bulgarian Split Squat

  • Stand with one foot in the center of the hex bar and the opposite foot back and elevated on the bench.
  • Engage the lift by pulling your chest up and driving through your front heel.

Side note—this movement works best when the barbell is slightly elevated off the ground. Using bumper plates or small boxes can help elevate the barbell.

4. Front Loaded (Zercher/Front Rack) Bulgarian Split Squat

  • Begin with the barbell in Zercher position, with the barbell resting in the crooks of the elbows.
  • Maintain a vertical position from the hips up and have your rear foot elevated back on the bench.
  • Maintaining this position, lower your knee back and toward the ground.
  • Drive through the front heel to rise up and return to the starting position.
  • Begin with the barbell in the front rack position (clean position). Maintain a vertical position from the hips up, keeping the intention to drive your elbows to the ceiling, and have your rear foot elevated on bench.
  • Maintaining this position, lower yourself toward the ground.
  • Drive through your front heel to rise up and return to the starting position.

5. Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat w/ Front Foot Elevation

  • Start with dumbbells by your side, your front foot elevated on a small box, and your rear foot back on a bench.
  • The purpose of the box is to add additional range of motion for the lift.
  • Engage in the lift by lowering your knee back and down toward the ground while maintaining proper body position.
  • Drive through your front heel to return to the starting position and finish the lift.

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Topics: SQUAT | LOWER BODY | BUILD MUSCLE | BARBELL EXERCISES | DUMBBELL EXERCISES