Bulgarian Squats

Bulgarian Squats: Techniques and Benefits for Stronger Legs

Are stronger legs your fitness goal? Incorporating Bulgarian squats into your workout routine might be your golden ticket. This exercise requires effort and determination to transform your lower body strength and enhance overall performance.

What Are Bulgarian Squats?

Bulgarian squats, also known as Bulgarian split squats, are single-leg squats that substantially benefit your lower body. Unlike traditional squats, this exercise emphasizes one leg at a time, precisely targeting your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

To perform a Bulgarian squat, you must elevate one leg behind you on a bench or a sturdy chair, ensuring a greater focus on your quads and glutes. This not only promotes strength but also enhances balance and coordination.

Bulgarian Squats

How To Master The Bulgarian Squat

  1. Stand approximately two feet in front of a bench or a chair. To make your surface more stable, you can place a yoga mat under your chair or bench. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Your core should be engaged, your shoulders back, and your eyes forward.
  2. Place your right foot on the bench behind you. You have two options here: either place the top of your foot on the bench or balance on the ball of your foot. The choice depends on what feels more comfortable and allows better stability.
  3. With your core tight, chest up, and eyes looking forward, bend your left knee, allowing your right knee and ankle to bend naturally. Your back foot is there for balance; your front leg should work.
  4. Lower your body until your left thigh is nearly parallel to the ground, inhaling as you go down. Your left knee should stay aligned with your left foot, avoiding inward or outward deviations.
  5. Push through your left foot to return to the starting position, exhaling as you stand.

Why Bulgarian Squats Should Be In Your Routine

Bulgarian squats are a fantastic exercise for developing lower body strength and stability. Here's why you should consider adding them to your workout:

  • Targeted Muscle Engagement: This exercise focuses on your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, helping to build stronger and more defined muscles. The unilateral nature of the movement ensures that each leg is worked independently, promoting balanced muscle development.
  • Improved Stability and Balance: Because Bulgarian squats require you to balance on one leg, they engage your core and stabilizer muscles, enhancing overall balance and coordination.
  • Versatile and Accessible: Bulgarian squats don't require special equipment. A simple bench or chair is all you need to get started.
  • Enhanced Athletic Performance: The Bulgarian squat is particularly beneficial for athletes. The exercise strengthens the muscles used in running and jumping, improving power and agility.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Misaligned Foot Position: Ensure your front foot is not directly aligned with your back foot. This makes balancing difficult and can compromise your form. Keep your feet hip-width apart or slightly wider.
  2. Forward Leaning: Avoid leaning too far forward at the hips. This can shift the weight to your front knee, increasing the risk of injury. Maintain an upright posture with your core engaged throughout the movement.
  3. Rising onto Toes: If you find yourself rising onto the ball of your front foot, it's a sign that your front foot is too close to the bench. Move your foot forward to maintain proper alignment and balance.
  4. Engaging the Back Leg: Remember, your back leg is there for balance only. Ensure it's not taking on any load, which your front leg should support.
  5. Knee Alignment: Ensure your front knee stays in line with your toes. Any inward or outward movement can place undue stress on the knee, increasing the risk of injury.

Variations To Elevate Your Bulgarian Split Squats

Once you've mastered the bodyweight Bulgarian split squat using a bench, you can take your workout to the next level by incorporating different resistance and equipment. Here are some effective variations to try:

Barbell Bulgarian Split Squat: Adding Heavy Resistance

Performing Bulgarian split squats with a barbell loaded on your traps and shoulders can significantly increase the intensity of the exercise.


Place a barbell across your upper back, ensuring your balance as you position your rear foot on the bench. Proceed with the squat, maintaining a stable form to manage the added weight.

Dumbbell Or Kettlebell Bulgarian Split Squat: Enhanced Upper Body Engagement

Using dumbbells or kettlebells offers a great way to add resistance and enhance upper-body engagement while keeping the movement relatively straightforward.


Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand, letting them hang by your sides. Perform the Bulgarian split squat, ensuring your grip strength supports the weights throughout the exercise.

Smith Machine Bulgarian Split Squat: Safe Strength Testing

The Smith machine, often called an assisted squat machine, provides a controlled environment for testing your strength with Bulgarian split squats.


Position the bar at shoulder height, place your rear foot on the bench, and get under the bar. Unhook it carefully and proceed with the squat, benefiting from the machine's stability and safety.

Gym Ball Bulgarian Split Squat: Core Stability Challenge

Incorporating a gym ball instead of a bench introduces an element of instability, which significantly engages your core and stabilizer muscles.


Place your rear foot on a gym ball, ensuring it stays in place as you squat. This variation requires more balance and coordination, adding a challenging twist to the traditional Bulgarian split squat.

Resistance Band Bulgarian Split Squat: Dynamic Tension

A resistance band can enhance your Bulgarian split squat by providing dynamic tension that varies through the range of motion.


Secure a resistance band under your front foot and hold the handles at shoulder height. Squat down while maintaining tension in the band, which adds resistance as you rise, working your muscles harder.


Bulgarian squats are a powerful addition to any lower-body workout routine. They offer unique benefits, including enhanced muscle engagement, improved balance, and increased athletic performance. By mastering the proper form and avoiding common mistakes, you can maximize the benefits of this exercise and work towards achieving your fitness goals. Bulgarian squats are a valuable tool in your fitness arsenal, whether you're looking to build stronger legs, enhance your athletic performance, or improve your overall balance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Muscles Are Engaged In Bulgarian Split Squats?

Bulgarian split squats primarily work your quadriceps and glutes, with some involvement of the hamstrings. The glutes and quads handle most of the effort, which can lead to muscle soreness in these areas after a workout.

How Are Split Squats Different From Bulgarian Split Squats?

The main difference is that Bulgarian split squats elevate the rear foot, placing more emphasis on the front leg, while split squats keep the rear foot on the ground, distributing the load more evenly between both legs.