The Bulgarian split squat is one of the least popular exercises for fitness because of its comparative obscurity. The Bulgarian split squat exercise is the most well-liked and is regarded as the king of single-leg exercises because it can help you gain more control, balance, strength, and power. When performing this exercise, your front leg feels the most engaged and "burned," especially your quadriceps. Your back leg contributes to the balance, but the front leg is the focus of the training.


Are more muscular legs at the top of your list of desires? If so, then stubborn work is necessary, but the rewards from adding Bulgarian split squats to your regime might be a dream come true! The Bulgarian split squat, a single-leg squat, will do miracles for your lower body. This exercise works many of the same muscles as a regular squat but focuses on the quadriceps when done with one leg behind you and lifted off the ground. In this article, we will let you know how to perform a Bulgarian split squat with the correct technique and experiment with split squat variations without a bench or for a more significant challenge.

What is the Bulgarian split squat?

The origin of the name "Bulgarian split squats" is unknown. They are not from Bulgaria, are not particularly well-liked by Bulgarian athletes or weightlifters, and are not even named after someone with the name Bulgaria. It's a puzzle! Due to this, many people instead refer to this exercise as "rear foot elevated split squats," or RFESS. Despite its different names, this single-leg exercise is similar to a standstill lunge.

The Bulgarian split squat is one in which one leg is lifted off the ground while the other bears most of the weight. The single-leg unilateral exercise works the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, unlike any other leg exercise, because of the split stance. 

Bulgarian Split Squats are advised for the mediator to advanced athletes with improved body control and awareness. Still, novices can also execute them on a slightly raised surface without weights to hone these skills.

How to Perform a Bulgarian split squat

You need a bench or a solid chair to perform a Bulgarian split squat. As your muscle memory for the exercise increases, dumbbells or kettlebells can offer more resistance.

  1. To begin, stand about two feet in front of a knee-level bench or step
  2. Put the top of your right leg up behind you on the stool. Your right foot should still be around shoulder-width apart and far enough in front of the bench or chair so that you can quickly lunge; bounce around a little to find the ideal position. Make sure that your left knee doesn't cross your toes when you lower down if a closer foot position works.
  3. Roll your shoulders back, lean slightly at the waist, and engage your core as you lower down on your left leg, bending the knee.
  4. Stop before your knee crosses your toes if performing a quad-dominant Bulgarian split squat. Stop doing a Bulgarian split squat with your glutes when your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
  5. Re-stand by pushing up with your left foot, using the strength in your quadriceps and hamstrings.
  6. Put your left foot on the bench after performing the desired reps on this leg.

Different variations of Bulgarian split squat

The Bulgarian split squat has a surprising number of variants. While some of these modifications may work better for your body than others, the workout itself remains the same overall. The way your feet are placed affects your leg strength. Your glutes and hamstrings will receive more emphasis if your foot is farther away from the elevated surface; your quadriceps will receive more focus if it is closer to the elevated surface. Every variety is advantageous! What ultimately matters is your personal preference and what feels most natural to you, given your flexibility and mobility. By attempting each variant of the Bulgarian split squat, you can find the one that works best for you.

  • Barbell Bulgarian split squat.
  • Quad dominant 
  • Glute dominant 
  • Split squat
  • Weighted Bulgarian split squat
  • Barbell step-up
  • Walking lunge 
  • Single-leg leg press
  • Two dumbbells, Bulgarian split squat
  • Front-loaded Bulgarian split squat
  • Overhead Bulgarian split squat

10 Benefits associated with Bulgarian split squat

Here are the 10 most effective benefits of Bulgarian split squats, which you must know about. 

Identify and correct left-to-right muscle imbalances.

Most people often have one side that is stronger than the other. But if the strength disparity is too great, it can lead to accidents and even back discomfort. Your left-to-right strength imbalances will be found and corrected with Bulgarian split squats.

Improve your balance

The capacity to maintain your centre of mass above your support base is balanced. Alternatively, your ability to stand up Bilateral straight workouts will only help enhance balance, which frequently deteriorates with age. Balance exercises like Bulgarian split squats will test and improve it.

Enhance hip flexor flexibility

The hips and knees have a wide range of motion when doing the Bulgarian split squat. By expanding the range of motion, it is possible to improve hip mobility and flexibility while reducing muscle tightness. Split squats are similar to stretching while moving.

Reduce pressure on your lower back

You do not need to use as much weight as you would for squats and leg presses while using one leg at a time. Split squats with the back foot lifted are significantly easier on your lower back when you are lighter. Many exercises find that their weight is sufficient to provide decent workouts, 

Good for your glutes.

Bulgarian split squats are great for increasing strength, toning, and the height of your buttocks if you use a wide stance. This workout will help you get a better booty. Put your front foot on a 3-6" platform to make it even more butt-centric. This minor elevation will enable you to get into a split squat and push your butt harder.

Improve your running ability

Strengthening your leg muscles and enhancing your running performance are two advantages of performing Bulgarian split squat exercises on a regular basis. So, if you are an athlete or want to run faster, you must add this to your training session. 

Gain muscle mass and strength

If you include split squats in your workout, you will strengthen your legs and increase your muscle size. The harder you work, the more muscle and single-leg strength you will build. Doing this exercise with weights will make it even more complex and productive.

Great for fat reduction

Bulgarian split squats burn many calories since they employ so many powerful muscles. You will also quicken your heartbeat and breathing, which will benefit your fitness, fat-burning, and weight-loss efforts.

A single exercise for lower body training

Rearfoot raised split-leg squats may be the only leg exercise you ever need to perform due to the multitude of muscles they work. The Bulgarian split squat is a fantastic all-in-one lower-body exercise if you're short on time.

Do them anywhere, anytime.

No special equipment is needed to perform a Bulgarian split squat, which you can do anytime, anywhere. You only need a platform that will work for your back foot and some room. An exercise bench is unnecessary; a bed or a sturdy chair will do. 

What are the most frequent mistakes to avoid?

While performing the Bulgarian split squats, anyone can make mistakes because, as a newbie or without a trainer, it is expected that you can make mistakes.

  • Putting the back leg behind the front one 

You’ll struggle to balance if your back foot is immediately behind your front foot. It is already a unilateral balancing challenge because your front leg propels the movement, requiring you to keep your balance as you progress through a squat, which is primarily supported by your front foot. 

Make sure your rear foot is about the hip distance away from your front foot as you set it on the seat behind you. Having this wider "kickstand" for support can help you complete the Bulgarian split squat even though you aren't using your back foot or leg to propel the exercise.

  • Putting too much forward hip flexion


It's tempting and common to lose focus on your core, particularly your abdominals and spinal erectors, as you move through the downward portion of the Bulgarian split squat. This forward lean not only reduces the exercise's main benefits but also increases the likelihood that you may transfer your weight too far forward and overstress your front knee. 

You might also get injured if you progress to a Bulgarian split squat while holding a barbell balanced across your shoulders. Roll your shoulders back before beginning the downward phase of the exercise. During each repetition, maintain the same posture and alignment.

  • Supporting the movement with the back leg

You must remember that a single-leg squat is what the Bulgarian split squat is. Even though the rear leg is designed to aid with balance, it is not supposed to be used to carry out the exercise, which makes it more like a lunge. You should be able to “shake” your rear leg at any time during the training to check that it is still relaxed and not bearing your weight. 

  • Getting up on your toes 

To rise onto the ball and toes of your front as you squat down is a terrible habit that occasionally happens when your alignment and form are bad. Typically, this means one of two things: To maintain better balance and alignment, you need to either move your front foot forward or, if you are leaning forward at the hips while doing the squat, you need to stand on your toes to support the forward shift in your weight. 

Stop exercising and restart if you land on the front foot’s heel or toes. Check the position of your front foot-you might need to move it forward—and ensure you are performing the exercise with a tall, upright torso. 

  • Your torso is not tilted. 

Keeping the chest up during strength exercises is a common cue. You should tilt your torso forward slightly for this move. If you keep your posture perfectly upright, you will be constrained in your range of motion and will have to pop your knee out before you get to the ideal depth. If you notice this occurring, sag your waist until your body forms a 30-degree angle, then retry.

  • Allowing the front knee to become misaligned 

One common and vital mistake in the Bulgarian split squat, like with other squat and lunge variants, is to let the front knee go inward or outward and lose alignment with the toes on the same side. This causes the knee to become overly stressed, especially when performing single-leg exercises where the entire weight and resistance is supported by one leg.

Precautions and safety tips

With the best setup and core engagement, it is possible to perform the Bulgarian split squat safely. Ensure your feet are correctly positioned and aligned before attempting to avoid being tempted to lean forward from the hips and place your centre of gravity in front of your front knee. This puts excessive strain on the knee and may cause damage.

Generally speaking, this exercise is safe for anyone who has been doing strength training for some time and has a good sense of balance, coordination, and lower-body strength.

If you are new to strength training or need assistance staying balanced while performing regular lunges, you are still getting ready to try the Bulgarian split squat. Additionally, if you suffer from knee or ankle pain or an injury that restricts the flexibility and mobility necessary to carry out this action correctly, it is not suitable for your physical condition.

You should stop the split squat variation exercise if you feel any pain or discomfort while doing it with your back foot balanced on the floor.


As a result, the Bulgarian split squat is among the best lower-body exercises for strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

Since it is more advantageous than squats and more convenient than leg presses, this exercise deserves a place in your regimen. It can take some time to master the Bulgarian split squat; you might need to practise your balance initially.

But if you get the hang of it, it's one of the finest leg workouts you can perform. Although "rear foot raised split squats" could be a better name for them and may not have anything to do with Bulgaria, this exercise is difficult to top.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are still unsure about the Bulgarian split squat, you are in the right place. Here are some common questions unpacked and answered.

1. Can novices do Bulgarian split squats?

Yes, but there should also be a focus on form. Before attempting the Bulgarian split squat with the rear foot raised, beginners must first achieve fundamental levels of balance and strength. The classic split squat is a terrific place to begin.

2. What muscles do you work when you do a Bulgarian Split Squat?

The quadriceps and glutes are predominantly worked during Bulgarian split squats. Depending on the variation, you might also need to operate your hamstrings, calves, and adductors, and you might need to do some core strengthening.

3. How elevated should my rear leg be?

Keeping the back leg elevated by 1–2 feet is generally advisable, even though the positioning will vary significantly. Depending on what you are resting the leg on, this will vary, but generally, this is the case. Start lower if mobility is an issue.

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