Bulgarian Split Squat
If you are looking for some variation to your leg workout, look no further. Bulgarian split squats targets the quadriceps with the gluteus maximus, soleus and adductor magnus working to assist. The hamstring, gastrocnemius, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus all act as stabilizers. As it is done with the rear foot elevated on a bench, it builds lower body muscles without the additional stress on the back found with traditional squats. As a Chiropractor, this is something I am always concerned with so this is one more reason I advocate this exercise!
Why this is referred to as a Bulgarian split squat is unknown to me as the Bulgarian weight lifter never did this exercise! At any rate, it is a fabulous lower extremity exercise but I consider it a moderate to difficult exercise so use caution when attempting it.
The key to this exercise is to have adequately warmed up your body and stretched your hip flexors! Second, and equally important, is the position of your knee to your foot. NEVER allow your knee to migrate in front of the knee. Your weight should ALWAYS be on the heel of the front foot. When performing the split squat your front knee should never move- it should always remain stationary. It is your back (elevated) leg that is doing the majority of the work.
Start by positioning yourself with your back foot on the bench. I do a few hops forward to ensure I am in the key position. If you have never done this exercise before, have a spotter in front and hold onto their hands the first few times you lower down.
To increase stability, I place my hands on my waist. With the weight through your front heel, slowly lower yourself down until your knee is almost touching the ground. Raise back up with the same tempo as you lowered down with (about 4 seconds.)
Perform all 10-12 reps on the same side and then repeat on the other side.
The position you start with is key so take your time to set up!
To increase difficulty, add a dumbbell to each hand.
Dr. Crysta Serné
Vancouver Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic
*Dr. Serné and Vitality Clinic assumes no responsibility for anyone attempting to perform this exercise