Want More Burn From Your Bulgarian Split Squats? Try These 5 Variations

Adding some variations to your Bulgarian split squat can help you target specific muscles in your lower body.
Image Credit: © copyright 2011 Sharleen Chao/Moment/GettyImages

Bulgarian split squats are the most exciting exercise out there, said no one ever. OK, maybe that's not totally true — after all, if burpee lovers exist, there must be a masochistic Bulgarian split squat fan or two.

But if you're sick and tired of regular old Bulgarian split squats, it may be time to shake up your routine. The variations below will add variety to your lower-body workouts, while giving you some extra strength-building benefits.

Advertisement

These five moves are versatile, too. Some help you target specific muscles in your lower body, while others will give you a little more muscular endurance.

Plus, you can add a pair of dumbbells to make them more challenging, recommends Carolina Araujo, New York-based certified personal trainer. Or, hold the bottom of the split squat for a few extra seconds to really burn your out your quads and glutes.

Related Reading

1. Eccentric Bulgarian Split Squat

  1. Stand about three feet in front of a workout bench or chair, facing away from it.
  2. Keeping your right foot rooted on the floor, lift your left foot up onto the bench, toes tucked under.
  3. With shoulders and hips squared forward, place the weight of your body mainly in your right heel.
  4. Bend the right knee to a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously bend the left knee and lower toward the ground for a 4-second count.
  5. Press into your right heel and straighten your front leg to return to standing. The point is to lower at a slower rate than you press back up.

Advertisement

2. Quadriceps-Focused Bulgarian Split Squat

  1. Stand about three feet in front of a workout bench or chair, facing away from it.
  2. Keeping your right foot rooted on the floor, lift your left foot up onto the bench, toes tucked under.
  3. With shoulders squared forward, hinge slightly at the hips and lean forward a little over your right leg.
  4. Keeping your weight in your right leg, bend the right knee to a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously bend the left knee until it hovers above the ground.
  5. Press into your right heel and straighten your front leg to return to standing.

Tip

To get the hamstring extra active, you want to lean forward slightly during your Bulgarian split squat, Araujo says. However, you don't want your shoulders to go past your front knee at any point.

3. Hamstring-Focused Bulgarian Split Squat

  1. Stand about three feet in front of a workout bench or chair, facing away from it.
  2. Step your right leg about a foot forward.
  3. Keeping your right foot rooted on the floor, lift your left foot up onto the bench, toes tucked under.
  4. With shoulders and hips squared forward, bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously bend the left knee until it hovers above the ground.
  5. Press into your right heel and straighten your front leg to return to standing.

Advertisement

Tip

In this variation, your planted foot sits farther forward than usual, Araujo says. This set up can help target the front hamstring, as your rear leg is in a more extended position on the way down.

4. Deficit Bulgarian Split Squat

  1. Stand about three feet in front of a workout bench or chair, facing away from it, with your right foot on a plate or block.
  2. Keeping your right foot rooted on the floor, lift your left foot up onto the bench, toes tucked under.
  3. With shoulders and hips squared forward, place the weight of your body mainly in your right heel.
  4. Bend the right knee to a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously bend the left knee until it hovers above the ground.
  5. Press into your right heel and straighten your front leg to return to standing.

5. 1 1/2 Bulgarian Split Squat

  1. Stand about three feet in front of a workout bench or chair, facing away from it.
  2. Keeping your right foot rooted on the floor, lift your left foot up onto the bench, toes tucked under.
  3. With shoulders and hips squared forward, place the weight of your body mainly in your right heel.
  4. Bend the right knee to a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously bend the left knee and lower towards the ground.
  5. Press into the front heel and come halfway up.
  6. Lower back to the bottom of the split squat.
  7. Again, press into the front heel and return to standing. That's one rep.

Tip

The purpose of this variation is to increase your time under tension. Just like it sounds, it means increasing the amount of time your muscles are working against a load (in this case, gravity). It's a great way to build muscle without adding weight.

Advertisement