What Muscles Do Bulgarian Split Squats Work?

The Bulgarian split squat is a variation of a regular squat that's done with one leg. 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. Strengthening the glute and upper leg muscles will provide additional support for the back. They are easier to do and require no spotter, making them an approachable exercise for new lifters.

A muscular man is doing a squat variation in the gym. Credit: Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

Muscles Worked

Bulgarian split squats work the glute muscles as well as the upper leg muscles. The target muscle is 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.

How to Perform the Bulgarian Split Squat

To do the Bulgarian split squat, stand in front of a bench with your arms at your sides. If you are using dumbbells, you should hold one in each hand. Reach your right leg behind you and rest the top of the foot on the bench. Bend at the knee and slowly squat down until the right knee is just above the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat. Perform the same number of repetitions on each leg.

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