Bulgarian Split Squat

Similar to the Lunge, the Bulgarian Split Squat is a single leg exercise that works the lower body well. It primarly hits the glutes and quads, and due to it's nature taxes your core for stabilization. It stretches the quads and hips to a greater degree than lunges, making it a good warmup lift for the squat.

As a single leg exercise, the split squat lets you train your legs individually, training each leg harder even with lighter total weight, thus less overall strain on the body, particularly the lower back.

Muscles Used

  • Primary Muscle Groups: Quadriceps
  • Secondary Muscle Groups: Glutes
  • Stabilizers: Abdominals/Core


  • Supplemental
  • Compound


Although technically a simple lift, maintaining your balance may take some effort until you get the hang of the split squat.


  • Bench - Use a flat bench that is about the same height as your knees.

Setting Up

  • Foot Placement:
    • Place one foot (rear foot) on the bench. Lie the top of your foot flat on the top of the bench.
    • Take a large step forward. Step far enough forward so that your knee does not extend beyond your front foot.
  • Body Position:
    • Upright - Keep your torso upright as you squat down and up.

      • Foreward Lean - Leaning forward slightly as you squat down and up can increase the lift's emphasis on your glutes.


  • Keeping your torso upright, squat down, lowering your rear leg until your rear leg/knee point straight down or lightly touch the floor.
  • Stand back up, driving off primarily with your front foot.
  • After all reps, repeat with the other foot on the bench.

  • Maintain a tight core, and focus on one single point in the room to help maintain balance.

Lifting for Mobility/Warmups

The split squat makes a good warmup drill/dynamic stretch for primary lower body training. It can help stretch the quad alleviating knee pain, and the hips/hip flexors improving mobility.

  • Set up as for a normal split squat and take a large step forward.
  • Slowly squat down and push the rear leg back until you feel a good stretch in the quad and hips.
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds before pushing back up to the starting position.


  • Knee Issues: If you have pre-existing knee issues, you may want to avoid this lift due to a lower degee of knee stability during the lift
  • Groin Issues: If you have pre-existing groin issues, you may want to avoid this lift due to the degree of stretch it creates in the groin area.


  • Standing closer to the bench with your front foot, and/or using a more erect torso, increases the quad emphasis.
  • Stepping farther away with your front foot can increase the stretch in your quad, groin and hips.
  • Holding a dumbbell in the goblet position can increase the core training effect, and can help maintain an upright posture.
  • Using wrist straps may allow you to use heavier dumbbells for a greater training load.


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