What Is a Split Squat: Muscles Worked & Technique

woman performing Split Squat at home

Boost your core and leg strength with highly efficient training. And Split Squats can be an essential part of your exercise routine. Here’s a detailed guide that reveals all the nuts and bolts about the exercise and Split Squat variations.

What Is a Split Squat?

A Split Squat is an excellent compound exercise that targets a range of muscle groups. That’s beneficial for overall muscle growth. Split Squats are performed with a single leg. That provides efficient tension on your abs to strengthen your core. Thus, the Split Squat targets more muscle groups than regular Squats. These include the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles.

how to barehand Split Squat chart

Split Squat Form

To get the most out of the Split Squat, you have to follow the proper form. Otherwise, you may focus on the wrong muscles and the strength training becomes inefficient. Here’s how to do a Split Squat exercise.

Split Squats can be performed either barehand or weighted. Let’s use dumbbells to enhance muscle activation. Leg position is a crucial point in the workout. Stand up with your feet hip-width apart. Grab the weights and place them by your sides. Squeeze your core and keep your back straight.

From your standing position, take a big step forwards to split your legs apart. Lower one leg till the knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your knees don’t go over the toes. Keep your hips backward. Then push the leg back to the start point. Feel your leg muscles while performing a squat movement.

Do 10-12 reps per set. Then switch the forward foot and repeat the exercise. Do another 10-12 reps per set.

Doing the Dumbbell Split Squat is a new level. They work on your body strength as well as balance. You’ll feel your glutes are on fire while exercising. Push your heels up when standing up to activate proper muscles.

woman doing Split Squats outdoors

Split Squat Muscles Worked

Split Squats are a superb lower-body exercise that targets your abs as well. The Split Squat activates the leg muscles including glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. It’s also balance training that hits your abs – obliques and rectus abdominals. Hence, Split Squats improve the range of motion and deal with muscle imbalances.

Here are even more health benefits that you should consider.

Split Squat Benefits

1. Ideal Squat Form Trainer

Split Squats are ideal for beginner athletes. That’s an exercise that requires little to no equipment. So you can easily perform it in your home gym. You can learn the proper movement pattern of squatting with the Split Squat. Once you nail it, you can add some weights like a kettlebell, dumbbells, or a barbell.

2. Amp Up Your Leg Muscles

The Split Squat activates a range of leg muscles. These are your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Squats are one of the challenging exercises for the lower body. But they are highly efficient for muscle growth.

Split Squats enhance the hip extension that is beneficial for pelvis stabilization. Learn to do a deep squat movement with the workout. And the knee extension of the front leg allows focusing on the quadriceps more. All of these help to isolate your glutes and hamstrings while performing.

woman performing Split Squats with kettlebell

3. Target Your Core

Split Squats is a solid test for your abs. The obliques and rectus abdominals are amped up to improve the core strength. The Split Squat requires you to brace your core to keep your torso upright and shift the load on your hips.

4. Cope with Muscle Imbalances

Single-leg performance affects lower-body strength. The workload is spread evenly on each leg. This minimizes the risk of getting injured because of one-leg overuse. Some athletes tend to have a dominant leg. This may lead to muscle imbalance and injury. Thus, Split Squats can avoid occurring such an issue.

5. Improve Your Balance

Your legs and core are working hard to keep your body stable while squatting. This affects overall body strength and balance.

woman performing dumbbell Split Squat at home

What Is a Bulgarian Split Squat?

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a single-leg squat variation. That’s a tremendous exercise to activate your lower-body muscles. These are glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and adductors. There’s little core work as well. Bulgarian Split Squats are usually performed with one leg placed on a bench. You can add some weights to level up the exercise.

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a great next-level workout to boost your legs. Once you slay regular Split Squats, get a bench and try something new. The technique is a bit different from the Split Squat.

how to Bulgarian Split Squat chart

Bulgarian Split Squat Form

Here’s how to do a Bulgarian Split Squat exercise. You need a bench, a stepper, or a box with your knee height. It can be performed either barehand or weighed. Leg position is a crucial point in the workout. Stand up with your feet hip-width apart. Squeeze your core and keep your back straight.

From your standing position, take a big step forwards with your right foot in front of you. The bench is behind you. Place your left foot on the edge of the equipment. Lower your torso till the front knee creates a 90-degree angle. That’s your start point.

Lunge till your right thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Make sure your forward knee doesn’t go over the toes. Don’t hit the floor with your knee. Keep your hips backward. Then drive through the front foot back to the start position. Feel your leg muscles when lunge. That’s one rep.

Do 10-12 reps per set. Then switch the front leg. Place the right foot on the bench and repeat the exercise. Do another 10-12 reps per set.

man performing Bulgarian Split Squat at gym

Bulgarian Split Squat Muscles Worked

The Bulgarian Split Squat works on your legs. The exercise targets glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors, and calves. Your core is also engaged to keep your torso upright. The single-leg move allows to deep lunge and stretch leg muscles well.

Split Squat vs Bulgarian Split Squat – What’s the Difference?

The Split Squat is usually performed on the floor or mat. You need no equipment to do this exercise. While the Bulgarian Split Squat requires a bench to raise one foot when performing the lunge. The first type keeps your stabilizing leg in front of you. While the second type requires your stabilizing leg to be placed behind you. Bulgarian Split Squats reach a better depth that makes your hips more flexible.

Split Squat vs Bulgarian are single-leg squat variations. They can be performed with no to little equipment. It includes a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, or exercise ball.

man performing Barbell Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat vs Back Squat

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a unilateral (single-leg) exercise. You spread the load evenly on your legs. The Back Squat demands a barbell placed on your shoulders behind you. The back and leg muscles are engaged most. It’s a bilateral movement as you don’t split your legs when performing the Back Squat.

Both exercises are great for strength training. They are beneficial for muscle gain and balance improvement. Add some weight to provide even better resistance.

man performing lunges with dumbbells

Bulgarian Split Squat vs Lunges

The difference between the Bulgarian Split Squat vs Lunges is their movement. Lunges are a dynamic exercise while Split Squats are static. Both exercises are unilateral movements. Lunges require stepping forward, backward, or walking. While Bulgarian Split Squats are fixed in place. The Lunge is performed on the floor or mat. And the Bulgarian Split Squat requires one leg to be raised on a bench.

Bulgarian Split Squat Alternative Exercises

how to barbell bulgarian split squat

1. Barbell Split Squat

Load a barbell on your shoulders to perform the exercise. You can use a smith machine for better safety. Place a bench inside the machine behind you. Load weight plates if needed before using the bar. Make sure you don’t go off the balance with the loaded gear. Then perform the movement like with regular Bulgarian Split Squats.

how to Bulgarian Dumbbell Split Squat

2. Dumbbell Split Squat

Get a pair of dumbbells to perform the exercise. Place a dumbbell in each hand and keep a bench behind you. Then do the movement like with regular Bulgarian Split Squats. You can start with dumbbells before moving to a barbell.

woman performing Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat

3. Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat

You need a dumbbell or a kettlebell to perform the goblet movement. Place a bench behind you. The moves are similar to the Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat. But here, you hold a weight in front of your chest. If using a dumbbell, hold it vertically for better grip. Then do the movement like with regular Bulgarian Split Squat.

man is doing Split Squat with dumbbells

Split Squat Form and Benefits Explained

Squatting is a top-notch exercise to tone your legs. Split Squats target various muscles including quads, glutes, and hamstrings. It’s beneficial for core strength as well. Athletes of all levels love the Split Squat as it provides a single-leg movement. It allows you to hit your leg muscles and improve your flexibility. The exercise trains your balance and stability. There are lots of Squat variations, both barehand and weighted.

Once you master the Split Squat, you should also try the Jump Squat and the Barbell Squat. A range of variations allows you to boost your workout routine.

Image Source: jensinkler.com, shutterstock.com.