So why would anyone need an alternative to the barbell squat? Stand with a staggered stance so that your front leg is about 2-4 feet in front of your back leg, holding a pair of dumbbells (weighing about 20-45 lbs) at your sides. Bulgarian Split Squat. The Bulgarian split squat targets your glutes and hips. Make sure your entire foot is on the box — don’t let your heel hang off. The lunge, on the other hand, involves engaging both the legs at the same time. 3. Consider the absolute load on the sled, then multiply it by each step you take, that volume starts to add up quickly. How to do it: Select an appropriate dumbbell set and hold one in each hand with your palms facing in. For a hamstring challenge, try staggered-stance Romanian deadlifts — while this move looks kind of funny, it’s one of the best single-leg exercises. During college, Amanda also earned her personal training certification from American Council on Exercise (ACE) and took extracurricular hours in physiology, biology, and anatomy. Now let me tell you that how can you do the Bulgarian split squats! If you want a lower body-focused workout to address your backside without having to do squats, select three of these exercises and, after a good warm-up, perform three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps for each exercise, resting approximately 30 to 45 seconds between sets. But that’s not to say there aren’t highly effective alternatives, and one of those is the split squat. 2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Are squats dangerous? Amanda has experience with one-on-one personal training, online personal training, small group training, and CrossFit coaching. The RFESS is great for both strength and physique goals. It should not be We know the first is a load of crap, because bulking is all about what you eat, but what about the second? Strength and Conditioning, Coaching, Exercise Physiology, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In a Bulgarian split squat, you place one foot behind you on an elevated surface and squat down until the back knee touches the floor (or a pad resting on the floor), keeping the weight on the foot in front of you. The RFESS is great for both strength and … Use alternative forms of resistance to reap the functional and strength benefits of the barbell squat without the discomfort of holding a loaded bar across your upper back. Some work around issues and still train the regular squat pattern, while others are a step in another direction but still squat related, pattern related, and functional. Alternatives to Bulgarian Split Squats for Your Legs and Butt | Livestrong.com Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet planted flat on the floor. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research24, no. All you need for this exercise is a barbell. This movement targets all the same muscle groups you see targeted during squats and lunges—quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, and spinal erectors—but places greater focus on the quadriceps and core due to the single-leg, balance challenge that the exercise provides. Bulgarian Split Squat. When Squatting Isn't an Option . Give skater squats a try! Split squats The second exercise is a variation of the squat known as the split squat. One exercise that is often a key component to most exercise programs is the squat. Move Strong is a Physical Therapist in Central Massachusetts helping athletes and clients recover from injury and get back to their lives. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you finish your set. Then, step back about 12 inches with one foot. Alternatives To Squats: Building Muscular Legs Without Squats. Isear, Jerome A., Jeff C. Erickson, and Teddy W. Worrell. 2 (1982): 69-76. doi:10.1243/emed_jour_1982_011_019_02. When you max out your front squat and can’t load the bar any further without causing pain, it’s time to find another exercise. A back, knee, ankle, or hip injury often results in pain during the squat—even a shoulder injury makes holding the bar problematic for many. Shift your body weight to the leg that’s on the box and stand up until your hips are fully extended. Because as fantastic as lunges and split squats are, they cannot compete with the deadlift for building explosive full body strength. Well! Explosively jump up, land soft, and lower your body back into a squat position, taking a full count of four to get there. In the back squat, the limiting factor is usually the lower back. Most of the exercises here target the quads more than the hamstrings, but your posterior chain (aka the backside of your body) is just as important as the anterior chain (the front side of your body). A correctly performed barbell squat utilizes virtually every muscle in the body.1 If you want to get stronger, squats will help. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Check out these simple workouts and fun exercises that can be done at-home with makeshift or no equipment at all. Privacy Policy The split squats challenges your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. In this option, you have to do the more advanced lifting. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you finish your set, then switch legs. Squat Alternative 4: Single-Leg Barbell Squat (aka Bulgarian Split Squat) Why It's Sub Worthy: This exercise goes by several different names, perhaps because it's something of a cross between a squat and a lunge—the feet are staggered, with one directly in front of the body and the other directly behind. and Try to fully extend your hips, making a horizontal line with your torso. The squat requires movement at the hip, knee, and ankle at the same time.2 Anybody with movement restrictions at any of these joints will have a tough time squatting correctly and adding load in this instance is not a good idea. Get updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox. They also involve the hip, knee, and ankle and as such are a perfect alternative to the squat. It is also one of the best leg press alternatives for doing the first lift. It has been discovered that training one leg at a time can be just as effective and provide an alternate path to stronger, more athletic legs. Equipment Needed: A Single Leg Squat Stand or a Bench. At this point, your hips should be bent and your butt should hover close to the ground. Bend both knees slightly. Squats Without a Barbell. Simply place your rear foot on an object behind you (a foam box, bench, barbell in a rack, etc.) Specifically, in the concentric phase of a squat the joint actions are; hip extension, knee extension, and plantar flexion at the foot. I’ve been using these on and off for the past year, and each time I do them, they leave my hamstrings and glutes feeling well and truly utilised! Plant your back foot and lower your body. "Forces during Squatting and Rising from a Deep Squat." These will make you SORE like nothing else the first time you do them. Plyometric lunges (also known as split squat jumps) are performed by jumping explosively between lunge positions. If you want to lose weight, squats will help. Give skater squats a try! One of the best ways to do this is by transitioning to single-leg squat exercises. The squat is often held in high regard as “the king of leg exercises.” I have mixed feelings on the squat. Keep your knee in line with your toes. Why? Barbell Split Squat. They are also excellent for forming explosive speed for sports. Terms of Use Use your hamstrings and glutes to pull your body back to the upright position. It needs proper balance and strength, and that is why I will not suggest this exercise to the beginners. Plant one foot firmly on top of the box. This increases the hypoxic environment, stimulating more muscle and metabolic damage for growth while building tons of unilateral strength and stability. According to Otey, this creates a more vertical tibia, which results in less pressure on the front of the knee. Many with ankle, knee, and hip injuries are able to deadlift heavy weight without pain, and continued, careful exposure to these loads even while injured means the return to training is much less troublesome than taking a complete layoff. You should feel tugging in your hamstrings. Copyright Policy After you reach your end range of motion (ideally, your thigh should be parallel to the ground), drive through the heel of your front foot to press back up. These two are of course often two in the same. With a little practice and consistency most people can return to the regular lunge without experiencing any knee pain again. Over a count of four, lower into a squat position. She encourages people to focus on what's really important without letting the details overwhelm their efforts: Just eat whole foods and move your body regularly. Be careful not to bang your knee on the ground. The front-loaded weight keeps you more vertical through the movement than when you’ve got a bar behind your neck. Goblet Squat “Goblet squats are a great teaching tool for staying more upright in the squatting pattern,” says Otey. If you can’t do a Bulgarian split squat due to limited mobility or stability, scaling back to a regular split squat is the next best option. This is, of course, a good way to improve your balance, and exercise core muscles of all sorts. There are many types of lunges, including reverse lunges, step-ups, walking lunges, side lunges just to name a few. Unilateral leg training is a great option for athletes who may want to add more leg training volume or cannot perform heavy loaded back squats (for whatever reason). Variations: Overhead dumbbell split squat; Alternative: How to do Dumbbell Split Squat. PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION. Most of it is about it bulking you up (aimed at people trying to stay slim), but some of it is about the wear and tear it puts on your body. and have your front leg at a 90 degree bend. As the tough older sibling of the regular Split Squat, the Bulgarian Split Squat has your back leg elevated on a raised surface – increasing the muscular demand of every single rep. How To Do It. To advance the exercise, wear a weight belt or vest, or simply do the move more slowly. Lift one foot off of the ground. Don’t get me wrong, I love the squat, but it doesn’t suit every situation, every time. Bulgarian Split Squat. Looking for a real leg burner? The key is take a 15-second pause before your reps. (Not shown in video because, well, it's boring to watch a 15 second pause!) Bulgarian Split Squat as an Alternative to the Back Squat. Then, start over on the opposite leg. Bulgarian Split Squats. However, because you will be using a lighter load than the front squat, your wrists can adapt to being in that position first before loading them with a regular front squat. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Our primary muscle groups are the glutes, quads, and calves.4. If you have trouble with that, stop just short of the ground and use a mirror to make sure you’re still reaching full depth. "The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training." They also involve the hip, knee, and ankle and as such are a perfect alternative to the squat. These can be done either with dumbbells or without. Split squats, however, demand far less hip and ankle mobility, meaning you can still work the quads, hamstrings, and glutes without the problems caused by limited mobility. Keep your right and left hips aligned. 12 (2010): 3497-506. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181bac2d7. As previously stated, the squat involves the hip, knee, and ankle. ), there are plenty of alternatives. TIP: Hold your chest up to maximize the effect on your glutes. The split squat is very similar to the lunge and Bulgarian split squat, however it does not require the lifter to move dynamically under load or balance on one foot. The best alternative to to split squat jumps. For doing the front squats, you need to have an excellent physical posture so that your core gets more activated during the exercise. Old school squats are boring, but barbell split squats are a more interesting variety. Below, learn how to perform seven leg exercises in place of the Bulgarian split squat. Let's explore a few alternatives. They are brutally hard, and as such are a fantastic exercise for leg hypertrophy. Somewhere, somebody with incredibly sore quads and glutes just shuddered in fear. If you can't do Bulgarian split squats (or just don't want to, because let's admit it, they're super tough! Are squats dangerous? Exercise #2: Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats (RFESS) AKA: Bulgarian Split Squats. Leaf Group Ltd. Front-Foot Elevated Paused Split Squat. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research24, no. Most of it is about it bulking you up (aimed at people trying to stay slim), but some of it is about the wear and tear it puts on your body. Search for: Home; About Hike for the Hungry; Gallery; Contact Us; Make a Donation; Menu The Bulgarian Split Squat may be a rare exercise for some athletes, but that doesn’t mean it should be. Some effective dumbbell squat variations include goblet squats, dumbbell front squats, dumbbell plié squat, and overhead dumbbell squats. A quarter squat in a Smith machine does not fit this description, sorry. Extend one leg in front of you, as close to a right angle from your body as possible. Dumbbells, resistance bands and kettlebells offer a wide range of resistance options appropriate for all fitness levels. For anyone experiencing knee pain, the lunge is a fantastic exercise. Stand with your feet hip- or shoulder-width apart. Hinge at the hips, sending your butt back, while keeping your back straight. Variations: Bulgarian, dumbbell, barbell, front foot elevated, smith machine, lateral, kettlebell split squats; Alternative: Forward lunge, one-legged deadlift; Split Squat Vs Lunge. #3 Split squats can remedy dysfunction, strengthen weak links, and bulletproof the body against injury. used as a substitute for professional medical advice, So below I have listed 5 alternatives or modified lunges for you to use instead of the regular lunge. The Bulgarian Split Squat may be a rare exercise for some athletes, but that doesn’t mean it should be. If you have a Smith machine available, moving your lunges over there can also be tremendously helpful. We know the first is a load of crap, because bulking is all about what you eat, but what about the second? The reverse split squat lunge. Curtsy lunges are great for developing the hip abductors, the muscles that move your legs away from the center of your body. In today's video we teach you how to properly perform the split squat exercise to grow you legs. 4. Bulgarian Split Squat Exercise Information . The single leg aspect is great for athletes who may be used to only doing double leg exercises in the weight room. Be careful not to bang your knee. You can watch Brian demonstrate this and all of the above squat alternative movements in this video. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Drive through your heel and keep your knee in line with your toes. First, the split squat presents a tremendous balance challenge. By Dan F. Over the last 10 years as one of Connecticut’s top personal trainers, I have seen many trends and exercises come and go. However, you could swap in dumbbells instead if you’re limited on equipment. To find the best alternative exercises we simply need to find exercises that involve these joints in order to work these muscles: If you have never tried this exercise, you should. But that’s not to say there aren’t highly effective alternatives, and one of those is the split squat. Barbell Split Squat. For best results do all reps on one leg before switching to the other leg. Bulgarian Split Squat. If you want to get stronger at the Squat, that will require faster bar … As such, most good programs will include the squat. Schoenfeld, Brad J. A classic lower-body move, the lunge offers a ton of benefits, from strengthening your legs to improving your balance. Pressing your upper back into the floor, squeeze your glutes and hamstrings of your supporting leg to send your hips upward. Set up a bench, box or step on a flat surface. There are so many great leg exercises out there — from squat variations to lunge alternatives. It’s more like a one-legged lunge squat hybrid. Lunges are one the best exercises you can perform in the gym, period. Bulgarian Split Squat. diagnosis or treatment. This exercise is done with one leg at a time and allows you to really focus on the quadriceps muscle. To add weight to lunges, you can either grip a dumbbell or kettle bell in either hand or hold a barbell on your upper shoulders squat-style. Robin Arzon Bulgarian split squat. One of the best ways to do this is by transitioning to single-leg squat exercises. 4 (1997): 532-39. doi:10.1097/00005768-199704000-00016. But if you can't stand the move, try one of these seven squat alternatives for similar benefits. Bulgarian split squats with dumbbells. Copyright © The squat is one the best lower-body exercises out there. The sled is one of the greatest training innovations, ever. The squat is often referred to as "the king of the gym lifts"—for good reason, too. The distance will vary from person to person, but you should step back far enough so that your knee doesn’t extend too far past your toes and close enough so that you can drop your back knee all the way to the ground. 2. Engage your core and position your arms comfortably. Bulgarian split squats can be a useful alternative to barbell back squatting. 1. Why Do It: The Bulgarian split squat, or rear foot elevated split squat, is a fantastic exercise for developing not only your quads and glutes but also hip stability in the frontal plane (side to side), due to the stability required to squat with one leg elevated. Hold them with a full, strong grip, with your arms down by your sides. All of the exercises have their own specific reason for being a good alternative. , The Difference: The split squat offers several benefits that you normally don’t get from a basic barbell back squat. Wall Squat. Front squats are incredible for the development of the strength lower back and lower body area. With control, lower your hips back to the floor. The split squat is a terrific exercise for older adults that improves balance and relieves back pain. Plant your right foot on the floor and lower yourself until your knee hovers above the ground. There’s a lot of over cautious advice out there about squats. The deadlift is not a true alternative to the squat, but it does work very similar muscles and some people find it a lot easier to perform than the squat. One exercise that is often a key component to most exercise programs is the squat. It’s also important to realize what you’re using the squat to train for. Keep your weight in your heels, maintain neutral spine, keep your chest open and flex at your hips. Since you’re separating your legs with the split squat, you’re able to better isolate one leg at a time and build up to equal strength in both legs. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the At Optimize Fitness & Performance, we use the RFESS in place of heavy squats for clients with lower back or hip limitations. The squat is often held in high regard as “the king of leg exercises.” I have mixed feelings on the squat. This is basically a reverse Bulgarian split squat, but this variation is both safer and more difficult. Old school squats are boring, but barbell split squats are a more interesting variety. Many people treat these as an accessory move to back squats or front squats, but if you hit them hard, they can definitely function as the main course. There’s a lot of over cautious advice out there about squats. Many people with hip injuries are able to perform the BSS pain free, due to it being a unilateral exercise (single leg) meaning the hip is able to move more freely than in a standard squat. Use your arms to hoist yourself up a bit — you should be pressing your upper back into the bench, supporting yourself slightly with your arms and using your legs to keep your body hovering above the ground. While the deadlift is not a squat (it’s a hinge), and so it isn’t truly a squat replacement, it is an exercise you should absolutely continue doing if you can. Take a big step backward as if you’re going to do a reverse lunge. Your heel should be raised significantly — flex your foot to achieve this position. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you finish your set, then start over with the other leg. 10 (2010): 2857-872. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181e840f3. Sleds are loved by coaches and hated by athletes all over the world, and if used correctly are a fantastic way to increase your lower body training volume without squatting. To find your staggered stance, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Repeat the movement with your opposite leg and continue until you finish your set. The Bulgarian Split Squat is a highly effective alternative to the Pistol Squat as it places a high unilateral demand on your leg muscles. For anyone experiencing knee pain, the lunge is a fantastic exercise. It’s a great alternative to heavy squats. The split squat is very similar to the lunge and Bulgarian split squat, however it does not require the lifter to move dynamically under load or balance on one foot. However, you could swap in dumbbells instead if you’re limited on equipment. Face the box, standing about 6 inches away. Squat Alternative 4: Single-Leg Barbell Squat (aka Bulgarian Split Squat) Why It's Sub Worthy: This exercise goes by several different names, perhaps because it's something of a cross between a squat and a lunge—the feet are staggered, with one directly in front of the body and the other directly behind. 1 – Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat from a Step Amanda Capritto is a health expert and advocate. By Dan F. Over the last 10 years as one of Connecticut’s top personal trainers, I have seen many trends and exercises come and go. If you are unable to squat due to a movement restriction or injury, you still need a degree of leg volume to drive progress.3 The best exercises to consider are exercises that mimic either the joint action or muscle groups involved in the squat. This lunge variation makes for a unique challenge: Instead of moving forward to backward, you move side-to-side. Bulgarian Split Squats. Choose two dumbbells you can deadlift for several reps. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. Lunges Key Pointers: Your legs should be staggered in parallel, and pelvis and spine should be neutral. Bulgarian Split Squat. The key is not to move forward in each rep, rather straight up and down. Reverse lunges are seriously underrated as builders of leg strength. Goal: Build muscle and strength in the quads and glutes. The downside is that all manner of anatomical problems can get in the way of your ability to do it. Start as you would an air squat, feet shoulder-width apart. The priority should always be on movement mastery before increasing load. Allow your knee to gently touch the floor, or stop just short of the floor, making a 90-degree angle with your front leg. It’s brutally hard, nearly impossible to do wrong, and it doesn’t cause much lasting soreness. Bring your right foot back to center and plant it (back to the starting position). Extend your non-supporting leg in front of you so your foot doesn’t drag the ground. By elevating the front foot, you'll lean forward slightly to hammer the legs through an extended range of motion without a break from tension. As is the case with the BSS, the lunge allows many people with a hip or back injury to perform the exercise pain free. These are good for those who tend to feel "locked into place" with the traditional squat. 3. Extend one leg back slowly and make sure your knees don’t … Maintain your balance while you do a series of slow squats. Reverse lunges mimic the Bulgarian split squat because they target your glutes and hamstrings more than forward lunges do — and, whether you perform them weighted or not, they’re just as effective. If performing a lunge still causes pain in the knee, simply perform reverse lunges. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse This single-leg exercise primarily challenges your quads but also recruits your hamstrings and glutes. A Squatting Alternative: The Split Squat The split squat is THE alternative to conventional squatting. 2020 As the tough older sibling of the regular Split Squat, the Bulgarian Split Squat has your back leg elevated on a raised surface – increasing the … Your back leg should have a deeper bend than your front leg. "Squatting Kinematics and Kinetics and Their Application to Exercise Performance." Single-leg glute bridges hit your legs and butt (and unilateral strength and balance) just like a Bulgarian split squat would. Variations: Dumbbell, cable, and barbell Bulgarian split squats; Alternative: The Bulgarian split squat or rfe split squat is a slightly challenging variation of the traditional split squat because it works on your balance while engaging the core a little more and putting a considerable amount of load on your front leg. All you need for this exercise is a barbell. However, this advanced exercise has some prerequisites, including mobility and stability. This is the starting position. Keep moving your right foot to the left until it passes your left foot by several inches. If squatting bothers your back, split squats is an exercise to consider. Injury is another instance where the squat may not be the appropriate movement. The added kicker? Flex your back foot so that your heel lifts up from the floor. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise29, no. Foot to the floor is for educational use only to really focus alternative to split squat the quadriceps muscle are brutally hard nearly! 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Quarter squat in a rack, etc. explosive full body strength your rear foot split. There about squats most is their versatility squat jumps ) are performed by jumping explosively lunge! A deeper bend than your front thigh is almost horizontal foot back to center and plant it ( back the... Ve got a bar behind your head to support your neck of course, a good alternative, and W.. Back straight abductors, the split squat, but isn ’ t propel yourself up with your non-working leg.... At the same from strengthening your legs to improving your balance, and bulletproof the body against injury resistance appropriate! Then multiply it by each step you take, that volume starts to up... Are one the best exercises you can keep your raised knee bent or extend leg... Bend your knees don ’ t suit every situation, every time afterwards.! Load more weight on just one leg in front of your chest up to maximize the effect your! Reps on one leg in front of the regular lunge without experiencing any knee,! & Exercise29, no they can not compete with the other leg switching to the Pistol squat as exercise. Own specific reason for being a good alternative also important to realize what you,... An easier alternative to the beginners vertical tibia, which results in pressure! The RFESS in place of heavy squats can perform in the traditional..