Bulgarian Split Squats – Unilateral Training

I keep pushing the topic and importance of unilateral work once again. Here you see me doing Bulgarian split squats also known as rear foot elevated split squats. I stick with Bulgarian split squats because it makes me much stronger than rear foot elevated split squats.

Bulgarian Split Squats

The best thing about unilateral work is that it checks your ego. The worst thing about it is that it checks your ego.

I did this as the last exercise of my leg day and I barely managed to do the 5 sets with 2 kg dumbbells in each hand. What you can’t see is that in front of me is a women doing the same thing but with a 5 kg plate. This kind of hurts, but then, I am competing with myself and not with her. I don’t know what she had done already or what is next in her routine. I already squatted 6 sets of 8 reps, did some deadlifting and was tired by now.

And, nobody cares either way. Do your thing and progress from there!

Bulgarian Split Squats – Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats
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My goal was to get my quads working hard and sets of 20 are rough, especially if you don’t rush through them.

Stability Work

It also showed me how much more stable and in control I am standing on my right leg. I have to work much harder once I switch sides. This tells me that I need to work on my left leg/hip stability much more.

I am posting this a couple of days after my workout and my quads were sore. This means I did work intense enough to create a stimulus to make my body adapt to it. I could have made it with more weight, but my form would have broken down, I would have ended doing sloppy reps, which are ultimately worth nothing.

This is hard though and it forces you to be present and aware of your training and each rep. I am definitely not a master of this at all. But I’ve gotten much better at it the last couple of months. You have to make a real effort and then it will start to stick and you’ll see improvements and carry-over to other lifts.

How to: Bulgarian Split Squats

  • If you use dumbbells grab them right from the start with your palms facing each other.
  • With your feet hip-width apart, place the instep of your rear foot on a bench. Your feet should still be more or less hip-width apart.
  • Lower your hips toward the floor so that your rear knee comes close to the floor.
  • Pause and drive through your front heel to return to the starting position.
  • There should be almost no weight on the rear leg, its main purpose it to keep you stable and in balance.
  • Finish set and repeat with the other leg

How to add Bulgarian Split Squats to your workout

You can add Bulgarian split squats as a finisher to your leg or lower body or push day. In these cases, I would for 3-4 sets and more reps (15-20). You can also use it as a superset with squats, lunges, leg press etc or as a primer right at the beginning of your workout.

It’s a very flexible exercise and works well with only your body weight or loaded with dumbbells.

In case you use your body weight only and this is getting too easy, play around with the tempo. Instead of a 1-0-1-0, how about 4-1-2-0? This will light your legs on fire.


So, to conclude, add unilateral movements to your program and don’t let your ego dictate your weight, let your goal dictate it. The benefits are much bigger than trying to impress someone.

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