Squats, lunges, deadlifts. Squats, lunges, deadlifts. Repeat.
Does your weekly lower-body routine feel like a broken record? Are you looking to add some variety to your workouts?
If you aren't doing Bulgarian split squats yet, it may be time to start.
Tony Gentilcore, a certified strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, Mass., is a firm believer in the benefits of this single-leg exercise.
"It's a fantastic exercise to help build single-leg strength and address any strength, balance or size imbalances that may exist between one limb or the other," says Gentilcore, who also runs his own fitness site, TonyGentilcore.com. "Bulgarian split squats also have a more functional carryover to athletics since no sport is played solely on two legs."
According to Gentilcore, they're also a great alternative for those who deal with back pain because there is less of a load compared to traditional squats.
How to Perform the Exercise
First, grab a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells, or use your bodyweight. Stand two to three feet in front of a bench, box or other slightly raised surface. Place your rear foot behind you and rest the top of your foot on the surface.
With your front foot directly below your body, perform a single-leg squat until your back knee nearly touches the ground.
"I caution people not to elevate their rear leg too high because you don't want to hyperextend the lower back too much," Gentilcore says. "The higher the bench, the more range of motion you're adding. I almost always start people with a 6- to 8-inch height, make sure they can handle that, and then gradually increase height over time."
Gentilcore also recommends keeping the kneecap of the front leg in line with your middle-to-outside toes to prevent the knee from caving in.