Bulgarian Split Squats: Benefits, Muscles Worked, and How To

Bulgarian Split Squats: Benefits, Muscles Worked, and How To

Looking for a power move that works several muscles at once? You’re not alone. Everyone wants more bang for their buck when it comes to working out, and Bulgarian split squats may be the answer.

This article covers the benefits of Bulgarian split squats and explains what muscles they work. We’ll also give you a step-by-step tutorial so you know exactly how to reap the rewards of this powerful move.

What Is a Bulgarian Split Squat?

Bulgarian split squats are an alternative to lunges that require you to squat with one leg in front of you and one leg elevated behind you — not to be confused with regular split squats, in which both feet are on the ground.

Bulgarian split squats work one leg at a time and require a strong core to support your body weight (as well as any additional weights you may be using) as you squat down.

It’s a great lower-body workout that’s easy to incorporate into your routine, as it requires nothing but an elevated surface.

Muscles Worked with Bulgarian Split Squats

For such a simple exercise, you get a lot of mileage out of the Bulgarian split squat. Take a look at all of the muscles this single move works.


Your gluteals, or “glutes,” are the buttock muscles. They’re engaged when you sit, stand, bend, walk uphill, walk upstairs, and run.

When doing Bulgarian split squats, the glutes stabilize your pelvis and support hip extension while one leg rests on an elevated surface.


Quadriceps — the muscles on the front of your thigh that play a part in extending your knee — are also used for Bulgarian split squats. In fact, your quads are the first muscles to activate as you dip down into the squat.

Hip adductors

Hip adductors are the muscles in your inner thighs that are used to bring the thighs together.

They’re also responsible for hip strength and mobility, providing lower body stability as you go about your day. You use your adductor muscles when you walk, run, jump, go up or down stairs, and squat.

In a Bulgarian split squat, the adductors on your lead leg work to keep your hips stable. This is important because the more stable your hips are, the less likely you are to develop knee pain.

Hip abductors

Hip abductors are the muscles on your outer hip and thigh that are used to move your thigh away from the middle of your body. As with hip adductors, Bulgarian split squats engage these muscles to stabilize your hips.


Bulgarian split squats also work your hamstrings, which are the muscles running down the back of your thighs.

The hamstring allows you to extend your leg back and bend your knee. When doing a split squat, your hamstrings help you stay balanced while you’re lowering down.


Your abdominals, or “abs,” are the muscles that wrap around your front from your ribs to your pelvis. Bulgarian split squats require you to contract your abs to stabilize your body.

Benefits of Bulgarian Split Squats

The benefits of Bulgarian split squats are many, making it a popular exercise for those looking to increase strength and flexibility. Let’s take a look.

1) Build muscle and strength

Because the Bulgarian split squat focuses on one leg at a time, you’re able to really activate your quadriceps and glutes. With repetition, you’ll grow these muscles, which are crucial for running and jumping.

2) Improve mobility and flexibility

Bulgarian split squats engage both your hips and knees as you dip down, increasing your range of motion. This results in greater flexibility in these areas of your body, which is an important part of everyday life. This is especially important when it comes to staying active as you get older.

3) Enhance coordination and balance

Bulgarian split squats require you to maintain your coordination and balance by staying focused, tightening your core, and stabilizing your body. This not only makes everyday tasks easier, but it also means you’re less likely to fall and get injured as you get older.

4) Relieve back strain

With a Bulgarian split squat, you’ll experience less back strain than with other squats and lower body exercises that work both legs at once.

How To Do a Bulgarian Split Squat

Like we mentioned, the great thing about Bulgarian split squats is that you really don’t need anything to get started but yourself and an elevated surface. This can be a bench or even a chair in your house or garage.

1) Find your position

Before you start a Bulgarian split squat, you’ll need to set yourself up correctly.

Stand with your back to the bench or chair you’ve chosen, bend one knee, and rest your foot on the elevated surface. The foot on your working leg should be a little bit ahead of your torso.

2) Align your body and squat down

Tighten your core to keep your balance, then descend into the squat until your lead leg is at a right angle. Be sure you are dropping down into your heel and pressing out of it. If you end up on your toes, move your lead foot forward a bit.

3) Tighten your core and stand up

Keeping your core tight, use your working leg to push into the floor and drive yourself back up. Your other leg is only there for balance (don’t worry, it will get its turn!).

4) Repeat

Repeat the squat eight to 12 times per leg for three sets. You can work one leg to completion and then switch, or you can change sides with every set.

If your goal is to build leg strength, consider doing the move while holding a weight. You can lighten up on the reps but add a couple of extra sets to build the muscle.

What to Avoid

This goes without saying, but you want to avoid losing your balance as much as possible when doing a Bulgarian split squat. You might want to position yourself by a wall for stability if you’re having trouble.

This can help as you get started, but too much reliance on the wall will lessen the effectiveness of the exercise, so be sure to gradually work up to moving away from the wall.

You’ll also want to avoid pain. If you start to feel pain, stop what you’re doing immediately to avoid injuring yourself. Remember, fitness is a journey. Over time, you’ll become stronger and more flexible and will be able to get deeper into the squat, so take it slow if you need to.

Bulgarian Split Squat Adaptations

Once you’ve mastered Bulgarian split squats, you can kick it up a notch with different variations of the move. Here are a few to consider.


Adding half a squat to the move increases the challenge without requiring any additional equipment. After dipping all the way down, only come halfway up before dipping down again. Then power back up to the starting position and repeat the move.


Another way to increase the difficulty of the Bulgarian split squat is to slow it down. With an isometric split squat, you dip down and hold it for five to 10 seconds before getting back up and repeating.

The longer you hold, the more challenging it is.


If building muscle is your goal, you might want to add some weight. You could do this by using a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, or even a resistance band. The extra weight will make your muscles work even harder.


With a deficit Bulgarian split squat, both feet are on elevated surfaces so that you can dip down further without your knee hitting the ground. This works all of the same muscles with even more intensity. And you can add weight for an additional challenge.

Stronger, Better

For anyone who loves working out, finding a new move can breathe life into your routine. In this article, we’ve introduced you to the Bulgarian split squat, a move that can build lower body strength and increase stability.

At Titan Fitness, we offer the equipment you need for powerhouse moves like the split squat, including the Elite Series Single Post Flat Bench, Elite Series Power Barbells, and Rubber Hex Dumbbells (in case you want to kick it up a notch).

With Titan Fitness workout equipment in your home gym, you can conquer your fitness goals and live a stronger, healthier life.