I'll refer to this exercise as the "Bulgarian Split Squat", as this is how it is commonly known. Both the name and how it should be performed are a bit like Chinese whispers and are debatable. Personally, I always like to take a movement pattern and use it or adapt it to best suit my needs and comfort. I therefore end up with a bit of a hybrid of the Bulgarian Split Squat which lies somewhere between its weightlifting roots, the ice dancers adaption, generally taught technique, a quadriceps stretch, and a little bit of my own thing. This is how I perform it...
1. Position the leg roller of a loaded weight stack machine to desired trailing leg height. I opt for around 10 inches to the top of the pad (note: an adjustable bench is typically 20"). Alternatively, using a barbell pad on a bar or smith bar can be equally effective in achieving the desired height. This eliminates any ankle discomfort. A sofa cushion is even an option at home.
2. Mark the position for your standing leg and set this. Then, set your trailing leg. Start-position. Note: Do not hop around trying to find a suitable position!
4. Slowly return to the start-position and repeat for the given number of repetitions. Then, switch legs and repeat the movement.
The Bulgarian Split Squat is a great controlled way of stretching out hip flexors and quadriceps while activating the front and back of the opposing thigh (quadriceps and hamstrings) and glutes (bottom).
Many have over-dominant hip flexors and quads and comparatively week glutes and hamstrings, which creates a pull effect on the alignment of the pelvis. Pelvic tilt can often be the cause of back, hamstring and knee complaints. The Bulgarian Split Squat exercise is a good prehabilitative and rehabilitative exercise in sustaining or achieving a neutral pelvis. A neutral pelvis is not only good from an injury-prevention and greater mobility point-of-view, it will also improve appearance (posture) and performance. Note this well, my bodybuilding and rugby and football playing friends!
Incorporating it in to my training:
Switching legs continuously (no rest) for the given number of sets is a good way to make the most of your gym time and also provides a good way of stretching out the muscle/s just worked. I select to increase repetitions (say 20) and sets (4), rather than add weight. If you wish to use it within a superset, single-leg leg extensions is a good option to blast those quads. If set up in the manner that I show in the video, this allows for a swift transition from one exercise to the next > leg extensions, left leg > then right leg > bulgarian split squat, left leg > then right leg > repeat.
The following video tri-set of hyperextensions, reverse hyperextensions, and glute ham raises performed on an orthodox 45 degree hyper bench is a complimentary way of continuing work on the hip extensors. You should consider reading the article A Balancing Act: Avoiding Lower Back Pain to which this tri-set relates.
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