top of page

Bulgarian Split Squats: Mastering Leg Gains

Are you tired of the same old leg day routine that seems to hit a plateau when it comes to gains? If you're on a quest for leg muscles that command attention, it's time to introduce yourself to the game-changer known as the Bulgarian Split Squat (BSS).

This powerhouse exercise is making waves in the fitness world, and for all the right reasons. Say goodbye to the monotony of regular squats and hello to a targeted, muscle-igniting movement that promises to redefine the way you approach leg training.

Bulgarian Split Squat might sound like a mouthful, but fear not – it's not as complicated as it sounds. In this article, we're diving headfirst into the world of this dynamic exercise, exploring why it's become the go-to choice for fitness enthusiasts aiming to sculpt legs that demand attention.

Whether you're a seasoned gym-goer or a newbie in the fitness realm, you're about to uncover the secrets behind the effectiveness of BSS and how it can be your ticket to achieving leg gains that turn heads.

image show Bulgarian Split Squats exercise

Join us as we strip away the mystery surrounding the Bulgarian Split Squat, and discover the science, mechanics, and real-world impact of this exercise.

Prepare to unlock a fresh perspective on leg training that combines targeted muscle engagement with the thrill of mastering a new technique. It's time to kick your leg gains into high gear, and it all starts with one simple move – the Bulgarian Split Squat.

History and Origins:

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a popular lower-body exercise that has gained recognition in the fitness world. While its name suggests Bulgarian origins, its history is not as straightforward as it seems. Let's delve into the historical origins of this exercise and shed some light on its background:

  1. Bulgarian Roots? The name "Bulgarian Split Squat" implies a Bulgarian origin. However, there is no concrete evidence to support the claim that this exercise was created in Bulgaria. The name might have stuck due to its association with Bulgarian weightlifters, who are known for their exceptional leg strength.

  2. Traditional Use: Despite its uncertain origins, variations of the split squat have been used in training regimens across the world for centuries. This exercise is akin to lunges and other single-leg movements that have been part of various cultures' training traditions.

  3. Bulgarian Weightlifting Influence: The Bulgarian connection may come from the prominence of split squats and similar movements in the training routines of Bulgarian weightlifters. These athletes are renowned for their rigorous leg training, and the exercise likely became known as the "Bulgarian" Split Squat due to its frequent use in their programs.

  4. Modern Popularity: Regardless of its origins, the Bulgarian Split Squat has gained popularity in recent years due to its effectiveness in targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. It has become a staple in many strength and conditioning programs.

In summary, the exact historical roots of the Bulgarian Split Squat remain somewhat elusive. While its name suggests a Bulgarian origin, it is more accurately described as a traditional leg exercise that has been embraced and adapted by the fitness community. Whether Bulgarian or not, it is undeniably a valuable addition to leg workouts worldwide.

Muscles Worked:

image show Bulgarian Split Squats exercise

Bulgarian Split Squats are a versatile lower-body exercise that effectively engage multiple muscle groups. They are renowned for their ability to target specific areas of the legs and glutes. Here's a detailed breakdown of the primary muscle groups worked during Bulgarian Split Squats, with an emphasis on their effectiveness:

Quadriceps (Front Thigh Muscles): The quadriceps, consisting of the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius, play a significant role in the Bulgarian Split Squat. These muscles are responsible for knee extension, and the exercise places substantial emphasis on them. The deep stretch and contraction involved in this movement make it an excellent choice for quad development.

Hamstrings (Back Thigh Muscles): The hamstrings, including the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus, act as synergists in Bulgarian Split Squats. They help stabilize the knee joint and contribute to the movement's control and balance. While not the primary target, these muscles benefit from the exercise.

Gluteus Maximus (Buttocks): The gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the buttocks, is another major player in Bulgarian Split Squats. This muscle is responsible for hip extension, and as you rise from the split squat position, the glutes engage intensely. This exercise can help shape and strengthen the gluteal muscles.

Calves (Gastrocnemius and Soleus): The calf muscles are also involved as stabilizers during Bulgarian Split Squats. They help maintain balance and provide support during the exercise. While the calves aren't the primary focus, they still play a role.

Core Muscles: Maintaining stability and balance during Bulgarian Split Squats requires core engagement. The core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, work to keep the torso upright and prevent excessive leaning.

In summary, Bulgarian Split Squats are highly effective in engaging the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus.

The exercise's emphasis on these major muscle groups makes it an excellent choice for developing lower-body strength, balance, and stability. Incorporating Bulgarian Split Squats into your training routine can help you achieve well-rounded leg and glute development.

How to Perform Bulgarian Split Squats:

image show Bulgarian Split Squats exercise

Bulgarian Split Squats are a fantastic exercise for developing lower-body strength and stability. To perform them correctly and maximize their benefits, follow these step-by-step instructions:

Body Positioning:

  1. Set Up: Stand about two feet away from a bench or elevated surface, with your back to it.

  2. Posture: Maintain an upright and neutral spine throughout the exercise. Engage your core for stability.

  3. Foot Placement: Place one foot behind you on the bench, toes pointing downward, and the ball of your foot firmly planted on the surface. Your front foot should be a comfortable stride-length away from the bench, toes pointing forward.


  1. Descent: Begin the movement by lowering your body straight down, bending your front knee. Keep your chest up and your shoulders back. As you lower, your rear knee should come close to the ground, creating a 90-degree angle with your front leg.

  2. Depth: Go as low as your flexibility and mobility allow. Your front thigh should ideally be parallel to the ground, with your front knee positioned directly above your ankle. Avoid letting your knee extend beyond your toes.

  3. Ascent: Push through your front heel to return to the starting position. Squeeze your glutes and quads at the top to complete the repetition.

Proper Form:

  • Keep your weight on your front heel to engage the quadriceps and glutes effectively.

  • Avoid leaning forward or backward. Maintain a vertical torso alignment.

  • Maintain a controlled, slow tempo to maximize muscle engagement.

  • Focus on balance and stability throughout the exercise.

Variations and Progressions:

  1. Dumbbell or Barbell Bulgarian Split Squats: Hold dumbbells at your sides or a barbell on your upper back to add resistance and challenge.

  2. Rear Foot Elevated at Different Heights: Adjust the bench height to alter the exercise's intensity. Higher elevation increases the challenge.

  3. Plyometric Bulgarian Split Squats: Add an explosive jump at the top of the movement to enhance power and agility.

  4. Single-Leg Bulgarian Split Squats: For an advanced version, perform the exercise with just one leg, which intensifies the workout and balance requirements.

  5. Smith Machine Bulgarian Split Squats: Utilize a Smith machine for added stability and to control the movement's path.

Remember to start with a suitable weight or resistance level and gradually progress as your strength and stability improve. Bulgarian Split Squats are versatile and adaptable to various fitness levels, making them a valuable addition to your leg training routine.

Alternative Exercises:

While Bulgarian Split Squats are highly effective for targeting specific muscle groups, there are alternative exercises you can incorporate into your routine to add variety and work similar muscle groups. Here are some alternatives and their benefits:

Forward Lunges:

image show foward lunge exercise

  • Muscles Worked: Similar to Bulgarian Split Squats, forward lunges engage the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles.

  • Benefits: Forward lunges help improve lower-body strength and stability while also enhancing balance and coordination. They can be a valuable addition to leg workouts.


image show step-up exercise

Muscles Worked: Step-ups primarily work the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, along with the calves and core muscles.

  • Benefits: Step-ups are a great exercise for functional lower-body strength and stability. They mimic movements involved in daily activities and can be customized by adjusting step height.

Barbell or Dumbbell Lunges:

image show dumbell lunge exercise

  • Muscles Worked: Barbell or dumbbell lunges target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, similar to Bulgarian Split Squats.

  • Benefits: Using barbells or dumbbells adds resistance, allowing for progressive overload and muscle development. Lunges can be adjusted for different fitness levels.

Leg Press:

image show leg press  exercise

Muscles Worked: The leg press primarily focuses on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

  • Benefits: Leg press machines provide excellent support, making them suitable for beginners or individuals with balance concerns. They also offer the ability to lift heavier weights.

Single-Leg Deadlifts:

image show single leg deadlift exercise

Muscles Worked: Single-leg deadlifts engage the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, with an emphasis on stability.

  • Benefits: This exercise improves balance, hones stability, and works the posterior chain. It's especially valuable for strengthening the glutes and hamstrings.

Box Jumps:

image show Box to jump exercise

Muscles Worked: Box jumps target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as the calves and core muscles.

  • Benefits: Box jumps are a plyometric exercise that enhances power, explosive strength, and overall lower-body athleticism.

Incorporating these alternative exercises into your workout routine can help prevent plateaus, add variety, and address specific training goals.

Select exercises that align with your fitness level, equipment availability, and objectives to keep your leg training diverse and effective.


See More: ⤵



Bulgarian Split Squats are a powerful lower-body exercise with a rich history that dates back to Bulgaria. They effectively target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, making them a valuable addition to any leg workout routine. The versatility and accessibility of this exercise mean you can benefit from it whether you're a beginner or an experienced fitness enthusiast.

By understanding the origins, muscle groups engaged, and proper execution of Bulgarian Split Squats, you are equipped to make the most of this exercise. Whether you're seeking to increase strength, stability, or overall leg development, this exercise is a valuable asset.

As you embark on your fitness journey or continue refining your routines, consider incorporating Bulgarian Split Squats to experience the benefits they offer. Strengthen your lower body, improve balance, and enhance functional strength. Remember that the key to success lies in consistency and gradual progression, so be patient and persistent in your pursuit of fitness.

So, go ahead and add Bulgarian Split Squats to your arsenal of lower-body exercises, and watch your leg strength and stability flourish. Your fitness journey will be all the better for it!


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page