Bulgarian Split Squat
AKA RLE squat
The Bulgarian split squat may be just a joke played on gullible Americans by a visiting Bulgarian coach, but it can still be a useful exercise in some cases.
The Bulgarian split squat is simply a 1-legged squat with the rear foot elevated on a bench, box or similar. Place the barbell behind the neck as you would for a back squat. Place what will be your front foot about 3 foot-lengths in front of a bench or box, and place the top of your rear foot on the top of the bench or box—this is your starting position. Adjust the distance of your front foot from the bench as needed to make sure the front shin is about vertical in the bottom of the squat. With a controlled speed, bend at the knee to lower yourself with an upright trunk until the rear knee lightly contacts the floor (don’t let it hit the floor or rest on the floor), then stand again pushing more through the front heel than the balls of the foot. Maintain the position of the front knee over the foot—don’t let it collapse inward or push it excessively outward. Perform the total number of reps on one leg before switching to the other leg.
The length of the split can be adjusted to obtain somewhat different effects. The farther forward the front foot, the more the exercise will rely on the posterior chain and stretch the rear hip flexors; the farther back the front foot, the more the exercise will rely on the quads.
The Bulgarian split squat can be used as a supplemental leg exercise to help balance weakness in one leg or hip, build better glute strength and hip stability, or as an exercise for hypertrophy at higher reps.
Sets of 5-10 reps are usually appropriate with weight that allows a smooth movement and no crashing into the bottom position.
The Bulgarian split squat can be loaded with any implement, from a barbell, to single or double dumbbells or kettlebells held in any position, to a sandbag. In the case of weightlifting, a barbell in the back squat position is most common.
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