8 Effective Bulgarian Split Squat Alternatives (2023)

The Bulgarian squat is a variation of the standard squat that offers some unique benefits. It allows you to train the legs unilaterally, improving balance and coordination.

However, there are a number of great alternative exercises that you can use to work the same muscles in the same way as a split squat.

In this article, I present eight of the best Bulgarian squat alternatives that you can do both at home and in the gym.

Benefits of the Bulgarian Squat

The Bulgarian squat allows you to train each leg separately. This one-sided training exercise wasshowsbe more effective than bilateral squat training in terms of absolute strength, functional strength, and muscle development. It also allows you to correct muscle imbalances between the two extremities that you cannot achieve with the bilateral squat.

This version of the squat also requires more balance and coordination. As a result, it builds the stabilizing muscles around the hips more than other types of squats. This version of the squat also allows for a greater range of motion in each limb than the regular barbell squat.

1. Russian thread

Why is it a great alternative?

the RussianLeg bendsHe's an amazing hamstring builder, using no resistance other than his body weight and the help of a partner to secure his feet. This movement will also help build functional strength in your lower body.

muscles worked

Knee tendons

How to do it step by step

  1. Kneel on the floor with your hands behind your back.
  2. Have your partner hold your heels as you reach a 90-degree knee bend.
  3. From this starting position, lower your torso to the floor.
  4. Pull your hamstrings to return to the starting position.
  5. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
  6. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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Move slowly and consciously. Keep your lower back in a neutral position throughout the exercise.

2. Bodyweight walking lunge

Why is it a great alternative?

The walking lunge works the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes through a functional movement to improve dynamic and explosive power. This is a good auxiliary movement to use after a lower body resistance movement such as squatting. B. cable curls can be performed.

muscles worked

Knee tendons

How to do it step by step

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Take a big step forward and lower your back knee until it almost touches the floor.
  3. Continue with the back leg to pass it and take a step forward.
  4. Continue 5 steps with each foot.
  5. Do 3 sets of 5 steps.
  6. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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Take a big step with each step and lower your knee until it touches the floor. Keep your torso upright throughout the movement.

3. Shell lying on its side

Why is it a great alternative?

The side-lying clam exercise emphasizes the adductor and inner thigh muscles to strengthen the lower body's energy base for dynamic movement.

muscles worked

Knee tendons

How to do it step by step

  1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your legs stacked on top of each other.
  2. Open your hips to lift your thigh to its full length.
  3. Go down and repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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Keep your legs stacked on top of each other. Hold the open position for 2 seconds before lowering it back down.

4. Einbeiniger Hüftstoß

Why is it a great alternative?

The single-leg hip thrust is a one-sided version of theglute bridge. This variant of the glute exercise can also be performed at home without any equipment. It's a great exercise to build glutes.

muscles worked


How to do it step by step

  1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent. Place your hands on the floor next to your body.
  2. From this starting position, straighten your right leg.
  3. Drive your right leg into the air and lift it off your right hip.
  4. Squeeze your right gluteus firmly. hold for 5 seconds.
  5. Go down and repeat.
  6. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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Do not bend the raised knee. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement and keep your glutes constantly engaged.

5. Bowing lunge

Why is it a great alternative?

This variation of the lunge allows you to work your glutes and hamstrings without resistance while also working on your coordination and balance. This is also a singleleg exercisethat each limb works for itself to develop unilateral strength. In addition, it helps develop core stability and improve athletic performance. This exercise offers the benefits ofBarbell pushes without putting pressure on the spine.

muscles worked

Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps

How to do it step by step

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  2. Step back with your right leg and cross so your back foot is to the left of your left foot.
  3. Lower yourself to bring your back knee to the floor, stopping midway.
  4. Squeeze the front of the thigh to come out of the lunge.
  5. Go straight to your next load.
  6. Do 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
Related Post: 9 Abs Alternatives to Enhance Your Workout

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Push off your front heel as you come out of the lunge position. This is a fairly advanced exercise designed to be a regular workout.Split-Squat-Variation, with a movement pattern that requires a lot of balance and coordination.

6. The cable squat

Why is it a great alternative?

The cable squat is another fantastic exercise that engages your quads without stressing your spine like a barbell squat. This allows you to drop heavier loads without injuring yourself. You can also lean back while squatting to more fully activate your quadriceps. This is a great exercise for building absolute lower body strength.

muscles worked


How to do it step by step

  1. Set the idler pulley on a cable machine to its lowest setting.
  2. Stand three feet from the machine and grasp the cord loops.
  3. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Sit back and then lower yourself into a parallel squat position.
  4. Back to the starting position.
  5. Do 4 sets of 20-8 reps, increasing the weight with each set.

used equipment

Cape police machine


Lock your heels as you push off from the bottom position. Lean back into the cables as far as you can to fully engage the quadriceps.

7. Single leg press

Why is it a great alternative?

The leg press allows you to unilaterally work each of your quadriceps muscles, which has been shown to offer a greater benefit in terms of strength and muscle fiber gains than bilateral strength training.

muscles worked

Quadrizeps, Beinbeuger

step by step how

  1. Stand on a 45-degree leg press and place your left foot in the center of the footplate. Your right foot should stay on the ground. Use about half the weight you would normally use when using both legs.
  2. Unfasten the side straps and bring your right knee to your chest.
  3. When your knee touches your chest, push back as far as you can.leg extension.
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position press 45 degrees


Most people don't get enough range of motion with this exercise. Be sure to bring your knee all the way back for the most benefit.

8. Squat with ball

Why is it a great alternative?

The ball squat adds the element of instability to the squat movement. This makes you work harder by activating the stabilizing muscles in your lower body. The ball squat is a very good functional exercise.

muscles worked


step by step how

  1. Stand with an exercise ball between you and a wall and lean against your back. Place your hands on your hips and your feet hip-width apart, about three feet off the floor.
  2. Push against the ball as you lower yourself into a parallel squat.
  3. Push through your heels to return to the starting position.


Exercise Ball Wall

Training table

Lean into the ball for this exercise.

final thoughts

The Bulgarian squat is a great unilateral quadriceps, glute, and hamstrings developer that will make a nice addition to any lower body workout. But if for some reason you can't do this squat variation, now you have sixteen alternative exercises that can work those same muscles just as effectively.

As you incorporate these exercises into your workout, be sure to choose an interval to cover the key muscles in your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Bulgarian Squats Build Muscle?

You can, as long as you use appropriate resistance and build the weight over time. To build muscle, focus on deepening the squat and keeping the time engaged.

Are split squats better than lunges?

The split squat can be considered better than the lunge because you can lunge deeper to get a greater range of motion. It allows you to better improve your balance and coordination.

Why is the Bulgarian squat so difficult?

The split squat is very difficult because it works each leg unilaterally. As a result, you have to work harder with each member. At the same time, you need to balance and coordinate your body due to the unstable balance with one leg raised in the split squat.


What is an alternative for Bulgarians? ›

Toe Elevated Split Squat

The toe elevated split squat is an alternative to the Bulgarian split squat that requires elevating the toes of the front foot so that they point upwards slightly. This places more loading onto the upper hamstring, and hip adductors more (inner thigh).

Is Bulgarian split squat a good replacement for squats? ›

Bulgarian split squats and classic squats are great strength builders for your lower body. They target similar muscles slightly differently.

What can I do instead of split squats for bad knees? ›

Which Squat Substitutes Should You do for Bad Knees? If your knees tend to bother you, machine leg presses, step-ups (start low), floor bridges, RDLs, and leg curls are great alternatives to strengthen the legs without putting much stress on the knees.

Can leg press replace Bulgarian split squat? ›

Unfortunately, while a single leg press is a perfectly fine lower-body exercise, it's not exactly accurate to say it's a 1:1 swap for the Bulgarian split squat. Specifically, the absence of core activation is the main reason why a single-leg press isn't a true alternative for this exercise, says Lagree.

What is the difference between Bulgarian and Russian? ›

Although they belong to the Slavic languages family, they are in two different subfamilies – Bulgarian is part of the Southern while Russian belongs to the Eastern subgroup. Moreover, these languages separated by hundreds of kilometres, and thus, it is hard to imagine that they have heavily influenced each other.

What do Bulgarian split squats work? ›

Benefits of the Bulgarian split squat abound. As a lower body exercise, it strengthens the muscles of the legs, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Also, as a single-leg exercise, your core is forced to work in overdrive to maintain your balance.

What can I replace Bulgarian split squats with? ›

The seven Bulgarian split squat alternatives include:
  • Regular split squats.
  • Reverse lunges.
  • Bench single leg hip thrusts.
  • Curtsy lunges.
  • Weighted step ups.
  • Front foot elevated split squat.
  • Staggered-stance Romanian deadlifts.
Nov 16, 2022

Are lunges better than Bulgarian split squats? ›

They're both excellent unilateral lower body movements, which single-leg lower body movements already come with a host of benefits in itself, including more stability and balance. In summary, the split squat is better for building strength and power, and the lunge is better for improving your stability and balance.

Why can't I do a Bulgarian split squat? ›

Many people can't do the Bulgarian split squat with proper form because they lack the flexibility and mobility. The most common problems here are tight hip and hamstring muscles, which prevent you from moving through the full range of motion without rounding your back or tipping forward.

What is the safest squat for knees? ›

According to the Arthritis Foundation, a good way to start and to take pressure off the knees is with a wall squat (3). Resting your back against the wall forces good form too. You can also make squats safer for bad knees by reducing the range of motion. Squat only as deep as you can go without pain.

What are the worst exercises for knees? ›

The worst exercises for knee joints for people with bad knees include full-arc knee extension including using the machine at the gym, full-deep lunges, deep squats, and Hurdler's stretches, because these exercises place excessive strain on the knee joints and can increase pain and cause injury.

What is the safest squat variation? ›

Bear Squat

The bear squat is the safest variation a client can execute. Done from the quadruped position, it creates an opportunity to coach foot position, hip abduction, core stability and tension management, and proper tempo.

Are Bulgarian split squats just lunges? ›

Both movements are unilateral exercises that work one leg at a time, but the Bulgarian split squat is a static movement while the lunge is more dynamic. Both exercises also require a lot of balance and mobility, but Bulgarian split squats demand more of each because more of your body weight is balanced on one leg.

Can you get big legs from Bulgarian split squats? ›

Bulgarian split squats build very big legs

Also, due to the demands of balancing on one leg, Bulgarian split squats hit your quads, glutes, hamstrings, adductors, abductors, and calves. I can't think of another legs exercise that hits every single one of these muscles. Because of this, your thighs grow large, quickly.

What does a sissy squat look like? ›

Unlike traditional squats, where you push your hips backward as if you were sitting in a chair, the sissy squat feels like you're a ballerina of sorts. You perform them high on your toes, and instead of hinging at the hips, you try to lower your knees to the ground out in front of you.

How long does it take to learn Bulgarian? ›

To achieve proficiency in Bulgarian, intensive learners will need at least 1100 hours (44 weeks) of study. This equates to 5 hours per day, 5 days per week. You'll need almost a full year of study to reach the C1 level of Bulgarian at this pace.

How hard is it to learn Bulgarian? ›

Bulgarian is known as one of the most difficult languages in the World (category 4), knowing that Japanese is in the most complex category (5). Learning Bulgarian is estimated to 44 weeks (1100 hours).

Is Bulgarian similar to Romanian? ›

Despite this geographical proximity, Bulgarian and Romanian are very different languages which are not at all mutually intelligible. Bulgarian is also a much harder language to learn than Romanian. As a Romance language, Romanian is closer to other Romance languages (such as Italian and French) than it is to Bulgarian.

Which squats are best for glutes? ›

A sumo squat is excellent for targeting your glutes. A wider stance keeps your hips externally rotated to promote greater glute activation. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width, your toes pointed slightly outward, and your hands out in front of you.

What do Bulgarian split squats target the most? ›

Bulgarian Split Squat Muscles worked

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a lower body exercise that primarily targets your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, abductor muscles, and calves.

Are Bulgarian split squats for quads or glutes? ›

Bulgarian Split Squat Muscles Worked

The muscles used during a Bulgarian split squat are the quadriceps, hips, glutes, and hamstrings. But your foot placement can change the emphasis on certain muscle groups.

Are reverse lunges or Bulgarian split squats better for glutes? ›

Both the split squat and lunge are great for building bigger glutes. Interestingly, the walking lunge increases gluteus medius muscle activation compared to the split squat. This can be enhanced by holding a dumbbell in the opposite hand to the forward leg.

Should I do 3 or 4 Bulgarian split squats? ›

Bulgarian Split Squat Sets and Reps

Here are several different ways you can program the exercise to suit your needs: For Leg Strength: Go for 4-6 sets of up to 6 reps with a heavy weight. To Improve Balance: Try 2-3 sets of 10+ reps with a very slow tempo. For Muscle Growth: Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps with a moderate load.

Should your knee touch the floor in a Bulgarian split squat? ›

Bend both knees to 90-degree angles. The back knee should point toward but not touch the floor, and your front knee should be directly over the ankle. Power form this position and continue through until the opposite leg is now forward lunging. Keep the core tight and upper body stable and upright.

What is the most effective squat? ›

Half squat.

The most effective squat for maximum benefit is a deep squat, with your hip crease going all the way past your knees (or “ass to grass,” as some eloquently put it). Not only is deep squatting effective, it's also a one-way ticket to a nice strong booty and strong back.

What exercises strengthen knees? ›

Knee exercises for runners
  1. Knee bends – 3 sets of 10 repetitions (reps) ...
  2. Thigh contraction – 3 sets of 15 seconds with each leg. ...
  3. Straight leg raises – 3 sets of 10 reps with each leg. ...
  4. Hamstring stretch with thigh contraction – 3 sets of 15 seconds with each leg. ...
  5. ITB (iliotibial band) – 3 sets of 15 seconds with each leg.

What exercises should I avoid with arthritis in my knees? ›

Avoid jarring exercises such as running, jumping, and kickboxing. Also avoid doing exercises such as lunges and deep squats that put a lot of stress on your knees. These can worsen pain and, if not done correctly, cause injury. Do get expert advice.

Do knees get stronger with exercise? ›

Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your knee joint. Having stronger muscles can reduce the impact and stress on your knee, and help your knee joint move more easily.

What is good for weak knees? ›

Here are some exercises you can do if you have bad knees that will also help reduce pain.
  • Walking. Walking is a low-impact activity that doesn't put too much stress on your knees and can help strengthen the muscles in that area. ...
  • Lateral Walk. ...
  • Monster Walk. ...
  • Donkey Kicks. ...
  • Fire Hydrants. ...
  • Warm-Up Stretches. ...
  • Water Aerobics.
Sep 23, 2019

What is the best exercise for arthritic knees? ›

Examples of aerobic exercises that are easy on joints include walking, bicycling, swimming and water aerobics. Try to work up to 150 minutes of somewhat hard aerobic exercise every week. You can exercise 10 minutes at a time if that's easier on your joints.

What is the hardest type of squat? ›

Front squats are more difficult than back squats because of the mobility and technical demands in maintaining upper body stability. In addition, the front loaded position challenges muscle groups like the back and core and are often the limiting factor in front squatting as much as you back squat.

Which squat is best for quads? ›

Barbell Back Squat

The barbell back squat is hands down the most effective exercise you can do for building quad size and strength. It also allows you to use very heavy weights, which maximizes tension on your muscle fibers and thus muscle growth over time.

How do you feel Bulgarian split squats in glutes not quads? ›

When performing a bulgarian split squat to target the glutes, it's important to have your legs positioned in a longer stride and torso leaning forward slightly. This puts your glutes in a stretched position. Focus on pushing through your front heel and pushing your back knee backwards towards the bench.

Which leg should you feel Bulgarian split squats? ›

This exercise is intended to target your front leg—your back leg is there to offer some balance support, but the engagement and the "burn" should be felt primarily in your front leg, particularly the quadriceps of your front leg.

What is a dragon squat? ›

What is a Dragon Pistol Squat? The Dragon Pistol Squat involves squatting down on one leg, whilst simultaneously hooking the other leg back behind your standing leg and then out in front of you without touching the ground.

Why squat with raised heels? ›

Elevating your heels when performing a squat will do two things: Increase squat depth, and transfer force and emphasis to your quadriceps. Heels elevated squats better activate the muscle fibers of your quads because it increases the range of motion at the knee while decreasing the range of motion at the hip.

Why put weights under feet when squatting? ›

Squatting with plates under your heels will increase the engagement of your quads in the squat, when compared to squats with flat feet. This may be a good benefit for those who struggle to engage their legs as well as those who wish to prioritize building their leg muscles.

What language is most similar to Bulgarian? ›

Bulgarian is most closely related to modern Slovenian, Sebo-Croatian, and Macedonian. It is also closely related to East Slavic languages like Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Russian, and to West Slavic languages like Sorbian, Polish, Slovak, and Czech.

What is my race if I am Bulgarian? ›

Bulgarians (Bulgarian: българи, romanized: Bǎlgari, IPA: [ˈbɤɫɡɐri]) are a nation and South Slavic ethnic group native to Bulgaria and the rest of Southeast Europe.

What are Bulgarians known as? ›

Bulgar, also called Bulgarian, member of a people known in eastern European history during the Middle Ages. A branch of this people was one of the primary three ethnic ancestors of modern Bulgarians (the other two were Thracians and Slavs).

What country is Bulgaria most similar to? ›

The Index shows that Serbia is the most similar country to Bulgaria. Although no countries are much more similar to Bulgaria than Serbia, Greece is slightly more similar for a few reasons. Both Bulgaria and Greece are part of the European Union and NATO, while Serbia is not.

Do most Bulgarians speak Russian? ›

The official language of Bulgaria is Bulgarian, which is spoken natively by 85% of the country's population.
2011 Census.
Native languageNumber of speakersPercentage of respondents
12 more rows

Can Bulgarians understand Russian? ›

Most of them can speak broken Russian. The language had been studied as a compulsory subject until 1991 and you should add two or three years before those who had already started studying Russian finished school. The younger Bulgarians can half-understand it, due to the Slavic relationship of the languages.

Are Bulgarians white or Caucasian? ›

Based on the results from our population genetic analysis we suggest that contemporary Bulgarians are an admixture of ancestral Slavonic groups, rich on locally absorbed EEF DNA and Proto Bulgarians, rich on Caucasian DNA and genetically related to the bearers of the Saltovo-Mayaki Culture from 6-8 century AD.

Does no mean yes in Bulgarian? ›

In Bulgarian, "da" (да) means yes and "ne" (не) means no. When in doubt, use these easy-to-remember words to make sure you're clearly understood. Kubilius, Kerry.

How many Bulgarians are American? ›

Bulgarian Americans (Bulgarian: Американски българи) are Americans of Bulgarian descent. For the 2000 United States Census, 55,489 Americans indicated Bulgarian as their first ancestry, while 92,841 persons declared to have Bulgarian ancestry.
Bulgarian-born population.
6 more rows

What is Bulgarian split squat called? ›

It's sometimes called the Poliquin split squat when the back foot is on the ground. Find a stable platform that's only about six inches off the ground (a 45lb plate works for this). Place the ball of your back foot on the platform (toes bent) instead of setting your shoelaces on it.

Why is it called Bulgarian? ›

The name Bulgaria is derived from the Bulgars, a tribe of Turkic origin that founded the First Bulgarian Empire.

What is the DNA of Bulgarians? ›

Estimated ancient DNA admixture. Bulgarian: 52% Neolithic farmer (ENF), 32% Western Hunter Gatherer (WHG), 13% Ancestral North Eurasian (ANE).

What is the oldest country in Europe? ›

What Is the Oldest Country in Europe? Even though there is some debate surrounding the oldest country in Europe, Bulgaria is generally accepted as the oldest country in Europe. In particular, it is the only country that has not changed its name since it was first established.

Is Bulgaria or Italy older? ›

Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe and the only country that has not changed its name since it was first established.

Why is Bulgaria unique? ›

Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe that hasn't changed its name since it was first established. This happened in 681 AD. Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, was founded 7000 years ago. This makes it the second oldest city in Europe.


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