As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from

Methods to Do the Bulgarian Break up Squat for Leg Dimension, Energy, and Mobility

Most devoted lifters present as much as the gymnasium able to do what it takes to work in direction of their objectives. However it’s not at all times enjoyable and video games, and a few exercises are approached with much less enthusiasm than others.

Leg day often separates goal-focused lifters from those that’d get a tongue tattoo moderately than practice. Many leg workouts check psychological fortitude as a lot as muscular means, and the Bulgarian break up squat is one in all them.

Credit score: Djordje Mustur / Shutterstock

Typically known as the very wordy “rear foot elevated break up squat” or RFESS, the Bulgarian break up squat combines single-leg coaching with a protracted vary of movement (for a deep stretch) to construct measurement, power, and total-body stability. Right here’s why this motion must discover a spot in your subsequent leg exercise.

Methods to Do the Bulgarian Break up Squat

The Bulgarian break up squat might seem intimidating because of the steadiness issue, however with a correct setup and some particular cues, you could be knocking out reps in a robust, secure place. Right here’s what to concentrate on.

Step 1 — Set Up the One-Legged Stance

Sit sideways on a flat bench whereas holding a pair of dumbbells. Lengthen each legs straight and plant your heels on the bottom. Place the foot of your working leg flat on the bottom as you get up with out transferring your toes from their spots on the bottom.

Place your non-working leg on the bench along with your shoelaces down. Stabilize your physique and pull your shoulders again to maintain your self upright. Enable the dumbbells to hold straight by your sides along with your palms going through in in direction of your physique.

Kind tip: If a normal flat bench is simply too excessive to comfortably place your leg, use a decline bench and place your foot at a decrease and extra sensible top. You can even use a plyo field. 

Step 2 — Squat Below Management

person exercising in outdoor playground
Credit score: Diedov Denys / Shutterstock

Take a deep breath, flex your core for added stability, and bend your entrance leg to squat down. Hold your shoulders pulled again and your torso upright. Hold your shoelaces in touch with the bench always and don’t rise onto your toes. Within the backside place, your rear knee ought to method the bottom, in case your mobility permits.

As you descend, the hip flexors of the rear leg will endure a big stretch which some lifters discover uncomfortable. By no means drive your physique right into a place it’s preventing towards. Over time, your mobility will enhance, and your physique will adapt.

Kind tip: Earlier than you start the train, think about inserting a towel or foam block underneath the spot your rear knee will find yourself. This provides you a goal for constant depth and gives to cushion in case you descend too rapidly and by chance smash your knee into the bottom. 

Step 3 — Stand to Lockout

person at home performing single-leg exercise
Credit score: Evelin Montero / Shutterstock

Hold your entrance foot flat on the bottom and press by to return to a standing place. Transfer at a managed tempo to keep away from being knocked off steadiness. Concentrate on driving by your entrance foot and use the again leg passively to take care of steadiness.

Within the high place, your entrance leg needs to be locked straight, and your rear leg needs to be bent at a slight pure angle.

Kind tip: As you progress through the rep, preserve your eyes locked on one mounted level immediately in entrance of you, whether or not on the wall, on the bottom, or a random dumbbell rack in entrance of your bench. Specializing in a stationary object will help you keep a way of steadiness. Keep away from closing your eyes, which may make it tougher to steadiness.

Bulgarian Break up Squat Errors to Keep away from

As a result of the break up squat requires extra coordination than different workouts, there are a number of frequent method errors that lifters can run into. The steadiness part of the train requires additional consideration to element. Utilizing a barely slower lifting velocity to descend and stand may assist to concentrate on correct kind.

The leg that’s planted on the ground will obtain probably the most muscle activation. Your rear leg needs to be used primarily for steadiness and stability, to not elevate your physique from the underside place.

person in home gym performing single-leg squat
Credit score: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

Apparently, some analysis has proven that even in the event you do attempt to drive up by the rear leg, it’s merely not efficient and doesn’t contribute to power or muscle progress. (1) Additionally, urgent onerous with the rear leg might throw you off-balance, making it counterproductive.

Keep away from it: Make sure you preserve the shoelaces of your again foot on the bench and use your rear leg to take care of stability.

Hopping Round Too A lot

Whereas the Bulgarian break up squat does require some sense of steadiness, wobbling and readjusting between particular person reps could also be needed. If it occurs excessively, for instance, greater than two or thrice in a single set, you’ll be spending an excessive amount of time centered on steadiness and never sufficient time constructing power.

two people exercising outdoors
Credit score: Floor Image / Shutterstock

Too many corrections between reps may cut back the muscle tissue’ time underneath stress, which is able to cut back the muscle-building stimulus.

Keep away from it: Use the method cue in step one of many how-to part to typically gauge your stance distance. Sit on the bench, prolong your toes, plant them in place, and get up. Carry out a number of bodyweight-only repetitions to fine-tune your stance earlier than choosing up dumbbells to your working set.

Leaning Ahead

To be truthful, this can be a “mistake with an asterisk.” Which means, it’s technically a mistake in case your purpose is to focus on the quadriceps muscle tissue on the entrance of your thighs, which is the most typical goal of this train. Leaning your higher physique ahead as you squat alters your physique’s leverage and reduces quadriceps activation.

person outdoors performing leg exercise on street
Credit score: Zoran Pucarevic / Shutterstock

Nonetheless, in case your purpose is to focus on your glutes, then leaning your ahead could be the appropriate factor to do. It shifts your middle of gravity and creates extra of a hip hinge or deadlift-type place which prompts the glutes and hamstrings extra considerably.

Keep away from it: Know that leaning ahead as you squat down shifts the train from a quad-builder to a glute-builder. If that’s your purpose and also you’re leaning intentionally to focus on particular muscle tissue, no downside. But when your purpose is to construct your quads and also you’re leaning ahead to steadiness your self, then you definitely’re utilizing improper method.

Advantages of the Bulgarian Break up Squat

This motion is a unilateral (single-leg) train which helps to handle muscular imbalances and power discrepancies between legs.

Over the long-term, these kinds of workouts can construct extra well-rounded growth and should cut back the danger of harm. Listed below are some extra convincing causes to include this train.

Leg Dimension

The Bulgarian break up squat means that you can focus work onto the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings of the working leg. (2) As a result of every leg is working individually throughout a set, the general muscular stress and muscle-building stimulus is elevated in comparison with working each legs concurrently throughout an train.

The Bulgarian break up squat has additionally been proven to be much less anxious to the knee joint in comparison with two-legged workouts just like the again squat, making it a more sensible choice for lifters coping with joint ache. (3)

Leg Energy

Most lifters imagine you should load heavy weights onto a barbell if you wish to construct critical power. Nonetheless, the unilateral Bulgarian break up squat can ship comparable power and energy positive aspects in comparison with bilateral (two-legged) workouts. (4)

Treating the Bulgarian break up squat as a heavy predominant carry whereas sustaining sound method could be an especially efficient approach to set off new power positive aspects.

Decrease Physique Mobility

Lifting weights is usually prioritized over stretching or mobility work as a result of, let’s face it, stretching simply isn’t too pleasing for some folks. Nonetheless, mobility and adaptability coaching could be simply as necessary for long-term joint well being.

As a result of the Bulgarian break up squat places the rear leg right into a stretched place, it’s basically a “free stretching session,” particularly for the hip flexors. Stretching the hip flexors is related to decreased decrease again ache and improved total power efficiency. (5)

Muscle groups Labored by Bulgarian Break up Squat

Like many squat variations, the Bulgarian break up squat prompts all muscle tissue of the leg to various levels.

person in gym performing single-leg squat
Credit score: MexChriss / Shutterstock

Whereas sure method changes can shift the goal muscle focus, it’s primarily thought-about an train for the quadriceps.


The quads, on the entrance of the thigh, are the biggest muscle on the leg. They perform primarily to increase your knee and straighten your leg. The Bulgarian break up squat works the quadriceps all through your entire repetition, most importantly within the higher vary of movement as you method a standing, locked out place.


The glutes primarily work to increase your hip (straighten your leg from the hips down) and to manage leg rotation on the hip joint. The Bulgarian break up squat prompts each of those features as you rise out of the underside place, whereas additionally stabilizing your leg to take care of steadiness. (6)


Whereas the Bulgarian break up squat is usually thought-about a quadriceps-focused train, the hamstrings are engaged and activated throughout every repetition. Your hamstrings work to bend your knees and (at the side of your glutes) prolong your hips.

The underside portion of the train recruits the hamstrings considerably to sluggish your descent and provoke your transition to face up.

Adductors and Abductors

Your adductors and abductors are your “interior thigh” and “outer thigh” muscle tissue, respectively. They management leg motion, appropriately, in in direction of your centerline or away from it. Throughout the Bulgarian break up squat, these muscle tissue are always activated to take care of steadiness as they micro-adjust to maintain the knee of your working leg from buckling in or out.

Who Ought to Do the Bulgarian Break up Squat

The Bulgarian break up has gained a burst of recognition lately, being utilized by top-level aggressive bodybuilders, elite powerlifters, CrossFit champions, and world-class athletes in quite a lot of sports activities. Protected to say, it has one thing to supply for everybody.

Physique-Targeted Lifters

Anybody trying to pack measurement onto their legs can use the Bulgarian break up squat as a key participant of their decrease physique exercise. This train offers a big progress stimulus to almost each leg muscle, aside from the calves which don’t endure any important vary of movement through the motion.

Normal Sports activities Athletes

Energy and conditioning coaches in conventional sports activities have been introducing unilateral workouts just like the Bulgarian break up squat to construct power and athletic energy with out important joint pressure. Incorporating unilateral decrease physique coaching has been proven to enhance energy output in comparison with focusing solely on bilateral coaching. (7)

Energy Athletes

Aggressive powerlifters, strongmen and strongwomen, CrossFit athletes, and different power athletes don’t must carry super-heavy to get super-strong. The Bulgarian break up squat has been proven to be as helpful for again squat power as particularly again squatting. (4)

This makes the Bulgarian break up squat an excellent motion for lifters who want to remain on monitor with power positive aspects whereas lowering put on and tear on their joints.

Methods to Program the Bulgarian Break up Squat

As a result of the Bulgarian break up squat could be helpful for quite a lot of objectives, it may be programmed a number of alternative ways. Listed below are among the most effective plans to suit the train into your routine.

Reasonable Weight, Reasonable Repetition

Coaching this train utilizing two or three units of eight to 12 reps delivers an optimum coaching stimulus for muscle progress. (8) As a result of your rear leg is actually resting whereas your entrance leg is working, you’ll be able to considerably minimize down on coaching time by resting 30 seconds or much less between every leg as an alternative of an extended, extra conventional relaxation interval after working each legs consecutively. That is an efficient intensity-boosting method.

Heavy Weight, Low Repetition

After you have an understanding of primary method, attempt performing three or 4 units of 4 to 6 reps with a comparatively heavy weight. Going excessively heavy can negatively have an effect on method, however approaching muscular fatigue within the 4 to 6 rep vary is a ample window to set off power positive aspects with out compromising kind.

Bulgarian Break up Squat Variations

The Bulgarian break up squat with dumbbells could also be too troublesome for some lifters, or not difficult sufficient for others. Listed below are some equally efficient choices to think about.

Entice Bar Bulgarian Break up Squat

Utilizing a lure bar to carry out the motion opens the potential for loading a lot heavier weights, making it best for knowledgeable lifters who need to construct critical single-leg power.

Relying in your arm and leg size, the lure bar shouldn’t make contact along with your rear leg at any level through the train. Carry out the train slowly with an unloaded bar to examine your particular person vary of movement.

Security Bar Bulgarian Break up Squat

The protection bar is typically known as a lifter’s secret weapon as a result of it permits most of the identical advantages of squatting with a straight barbell, plus some added bonuses. The thick bar pad raises the burden out of your middle of gravity, which will increase recruitment of the higher again muscle tissue. The ahead handles additionally cut back shoulder pressure by permitting a extra pure gripping place.

With this Bulgarian break up squat variation, sustaining an upright torso will probably be much more necessary as a result of the bar will work to break down you ahead. This makes it an excellent train for reinforcing strict quad-building method.

Plyometric Bulgarian Break up Squat

This explosive leaping motion is right for athletes trying to construct agility and energy. It’s additionally a extremely efficient alternative for any lifters trying to hearth up their nervous system for improved efficiency previous to heavy lifting. (9)

Start with body weight solely — including resistance with dumbbells or a weighted vest is for extremely skilled lifters. Concentrate on making use of most energy to realize top with every soar.

Bulgarian Break up Squat Alternate options

Some lifters aren’t in a position to carry out the Bulgarian break up squat as a consequence of immobility, coordination points, or different elements. These are some comparably efficient single-leg workouts for measurement and power.

Reverse Lunge

The reverse lunge means that you can concentrate on one leg at a time whereas lowering knee joint pressure. This motion additionally helps to remove the steadiness part of the train, making it a more sensible choice for lifters who had hassle balancing on one foot at some point of a set.

Quite a lot of different lunge variations may be used — ahead lunge, strolling lunge, and many others. — however the reverse lunge is the best and most common motion for almost all of lifters.


The step-up could be extremely efficient when carried out appropriately. Sadly, it’s usually carried out incorrectly which compromises its advantages. It’s important to concentrate on driving up by the elevated foot, not the foot on the bottom.

Many lifters make the error of bouncing off their backside foot, which generates momentum and reduces the work achieved by the leg on high of the field.

Single-Leg Leg Press

That is probably the most secure and least balance-demanding train of the lot. The leg press offers complete stability whereas nonetheless permitting single-leg centered coaching. This motion additionally permits a big load for use as a result of it’s not supported by your again, shoulders, or arms.

Make sure you sit totally within the chair assist. Don’t rotate, shift, or twist whereas urgent with the working leg as a result of you’ll be able to improve the danger of harm.


I really feel my again leg working greater than my entrance leg. How do I repair it?

That is usually as a consequence of poor hip flexor mobility, which is a typical concern for a lot of lifters. The Bulgarian break up squat places the rear leg right into a compelled stretch place.

For those who presently lack mobility, that muscle would be the “weak level” and also you’ll really feel fatigue or discomfort there earlier than the goal muscle is sufficiently skilled. Your physique will adapt and enhance as you follow the train, simply you’ll want to work inside a snug vary of movement and step by step push your self.

Why does this train make me extra sore than some other leg train?

A number of variables contribute to “delayed onset muscle soreness” or DOMS, which is the technical time period for post-workout soreness. One of the important causes is the eccentric stress which happens when a weight is lowered or a muscle is lengthened. (10)

Whereas each train has an eccentric section, the Bulgarian break up squat is usually carried out at a comparatively slower tempo with a view to keep steadiness and focus. This will increase the length of the eccentric and may improve DOMS.

This doesn’t imply you need to decrease your self rapidly, as a result of that will be counterproductive and reduce the muscle-building stimulus. Your physique will adapt, particularly when supported by ample vitamin for progress and restore.

Step Again to Get a Leg Up

Whether or not you name it the Bulgarian break up squat, the rear foot elevated break up squat, the RFESS, or the “weeble wobble one-leg bench squat,” keep it up and also you’ll quickly be calling it your ticket to greater, stronger legs. Don’t let a bit steadiness requirement scare you away from this highly effective and productive motion.


  1. Helme, M., Emmonds, S., & Low, C. (2022). Is the Rear Foot Elevated Break up Squat Unilateral? An Investigation Into the Kinetic and Kinematic Calls for. Journal of power and conditioning analysis, 36(7), 1781–1787.
  2. McCurdy, Kevin. (2017). Method, Variation, and Development of the Rear-Foot-Elevated Break up Squat. Energy and Conditioning Journal. 39. 1. 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000319. 
  3. Mackey, E. R., & Riemann, B. L. (2021). Biomechanical Variations Between the Bulgarian Break up-Squat and Again Squat. Worldwide journal of train science, 14(1), 533–543.
  4. Speirs, D. E., Bennett, M. A., Finn, C. V., & Turner, A. P. (2016). Unilateral vs. Bilateral Squat Coaching for Energy, Sprints, and Agility in Academy Rugby Gamers. Journal of power and conditioning analysis, 30(2), 386–392.
  5. Konrad, A., Močnik, R., Titze, S., Nakamura, M., & Tilp, M. (2021). The Affect of Stretching the Hip Flexor Muscle groups on Efficiency Parameters. A Systematic Evaluation with Meta-Evaluation. Worldwide journal of environmental analysis and public well being, 18(4), 1936.
  6. McCurdy, Kevin; Walker, John; Kelly, Camila; Polinski, Michael. Hip and Knee Extensor Activation Throughout the Hip Thrust and Rear-Foot–Elevated Break up Squat in Skilled Females. Journal of Energy and Conditioning Analysis: Could 2021 – Quantity 35 – Concern 5 – p 1201-1207 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000004035
  7. Ramirez-Campillo, Rodrigo & Burgos, Carlos & Henríquez-Olguín, Carlos & Andrade, David & Martínez, Cristian & Álvarez, Cristian & Castro-Sepulveda, Mauricio & Marques, Mário & Izquierdo, Mikel. (2015). Impact of Unilateral, Bilateral, and Mixed Plyometric Coaching on Explosive and Endurance Efficiency of Younger Soccer Gamers. The Journal of Energy and Conditioning Analysis. 29. 1317–1328. 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000762. 
  8. Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, Okay., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance Coaching Quantity Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy however Not Energy in Skilled Males. Drugs and science in sports activities and train, 51(1), 94–103.
  9. Davies, G., Riemann, B. L., & Manske, R. (2015). CURRENT CONCEPTS OF PLYOMETRIC EXERCISE. Worldwide journal of sports activities bodily remedy10(6), 760–786.

  10. Lieber, Richard & Fridén, Jan. (2002). Morphologic and Mechanical Foundation of Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness. The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 10. 67-73. 10.5435/00124635-200201000-00009.

Featured Picture: MexChriss / Shutterstock

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

10 Healthy Trends 4u
Enable registration in settings - general
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart