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. Specifically, in the concentric phase of a squat the joint actions are; hip extension, knee extension, and plantar flexion at the foot. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. 12 (2010): 3497-506. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181bac2d7. The lunge, on the other hand, involves engaging both the legs at the same time. If you want to get stronger at the Squat, that will require faster bar … 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. One exercise that is often a key component to most exercise programs is the squat. 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. This exercise is done with one leg at a time and allows you to really focus on the quadriceps muscle. Shift your body weight to the leg that’s on the box and stand up until your hips are fully extended. The squat is often referred to as "the king of the gym lifts"—for good reason, too. Our primary muscle groups are the glutes, quads, and calves.4. So why would anyone need an alternative to the barbell squat? Well! Stand with your feet hip-width apart. In today's video we teach you how to properly perform the split squat exercise to grow you legs. Unfortunately, for something like the Squat, it’s a lot harder to barbell squat without a rack, which is why I’ll be going over my top 5 squat alternatives. Repeat the movement, starting with your left leg. These are good for those who tend to feel "locked into place" with the traditional squat. 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. A classic lower-body move, the lunge offers a ton of benefits, from strengthening your legs to improving your balance. Isear, Jerome A., Jeff C. Erickson, and Teddy W. Worrell. 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). All you need for this exercise is a barbell. It is also one of the best leg press alternatives for doing the first lift. Lower the dumbbells as far as you can without increasing the bend in your knees and without arching your back. Elevated single-leg hip thrusts in particular can help you gain strength and stability that will transfer to movements like squats and deadlifts. In the split squat, your rear leg is not engaged, and the focus is mainly shifted on your front leg. Alternatives To Squats: Building Muscular Legs Without Squats. According to Otey, this creates a more vertical tibia, which results in less pressure on the front of the knee. 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. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research24, no. For best results do all reps on one leg before switching to the other leg. Let's explore a few alternatives. Lift one foot off of the ground. Your back leg should have a deeper bend than your front leg. Alternative Names: Split leg squat, bodyweight split squat Type: Strength Experience Level: Beginner Equipment: None Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, glutes, hips Mechanics: Compound Average Number of Sets: 3-4 with 5-10 reps per leg Variations: Bulgarian, dumbbell, barbell, front foot elevated, smith machine, lateral, kettlebell split squats Move Strong is a Physical Therapist in Central Massachusetts helping athletes and clients recover from injury and get back to their lives. Extend one leg in front of you, as close to a right angle from your body as possible. Bulgarian Split Squat. Simply place your rear foot on an object behind you (a foam box, bench, barbell in a rack, etc.) Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise29, no. Any time you can work your body unilatera… Plant one foot firmly on top of the box. This single-leg exercise primarily challenges your quads but also recruits your hamstrings and glutes. Bulgarian Split Squats. , 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. The Bulgarian Split Squat may be a rare exercise for some athletes, but that doesn’t mean it should be. B. Seedhom. In the back squat, the limiting factor is usually the lower back. 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. The back squat is a full-body lift. It’s quad-dominant, just like a squat. The split squats challenges your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. If you want to lose weight, squats will help. However, you could swap in dumbbells instead if you’re limited on equipment. Choose two dumbbells you can deadlift for several reps. Don’t get me wrong, I love the squat, but it doesn’t suit every situation, every time. Below, learn how to perform seven leg exercises in place of the Bulgarian split squat. 1 – Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat from a Step Exercise #2: Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats (RFESS) AKA: Bulgarian Split Squats. advertisements are served by third party advertising companies. The front-loaded weight keeps you more vertical through the movement than when you’ve got a bar behind your neck. 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. Allow your knee to gently touch the floor, or stop just short of the floor, making a 90-degree angle with your front leg. 3. How to do it: Select an appropriate dumbbell set and hold one in each hand with your palms facing in. 2020 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. Bulgarian split squats can be a useful alternative to barbell back squatting. 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. Maintain your balance while you do a series of slow squats. Why? All of the exercises have their own specific reason for being a good alternative. Bulgarian Split Squat as an Alternative to the Back Squat. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you finish your set. Goal: Build muscle and strength in the quads and glutes. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM 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. The single leg aspect is great for athletes who may be used to only doing double leg exercises in the weight room. 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. Bulgarian Split Squat. http://totalformfitness.com Split Squat Jump (alternating) Standing in a lunge position, use your arms to assist with jumping as high as possible. Bulgarian Split Squats. 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. There’s a lot of over cautious advice out there about squats. In this case, the available options are to push through the pain which I certainly do not advise, or to seek alternative exercises. The biggest advantage is the lack of lower back strain. Give skater squats a try! Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you finish your set, then start over with the other leg. "The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training." One of the best leg movements for building strong legs — and a trainer favorite — is the Bulgarian split squat. At this point, your hips should be bent and your butt should hover close to the ground. An easier alternative to the Bulgarian split squats, this exercise will build your thigh muscle. 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. The squat is often held in high regard as “the king of leg exercises.” I have mixed feelings on the squat. What I love about them most is their versatility. This lunge variation makes for a unique challenge: Instead of moving forward to backward, you move side-to-side. 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. Drive through the heel of your supporting foot and squeeze your glutes to send your hips up. #3 Split squats can remedy dysfunction, strengthen weak links, and bulletproof the body against injury. If squatting bothers your back, split squats is an exercise to consider. The split squat, he said, allows fuller loading of the legs being worked by removing the back from the equation. 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. and 3. 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. Plant your right foot on the floor and lower yourself until your knee hovers above the ground. 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. 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. 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). Somewhere, somebody with incredibly sore quads and glutes just shuddered in fear. Bulgarian Split Squat. Amanda has experience with one-on-one personal training, online personal training, small group training, and CrossFit coaching. All you need for this exercise is a barbell. In 2019, she received her Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and will take the international board-certifying exam for health coaches from the International Association for Health Coaches. 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. The best alternative to to split squat jumps. and have your front leg at a 90 degree bend. Engineering in Medicine 11, no. Your heel should be raised significantly — flex your foot to achieve this position. The Bulgarian split squat targets your glutes and hips. Plant your back foot and lower your body. Explosively jump up, land soft, and lower your body back into a squat position, taking a full count of four to get there. This is basically a reverse Bulgarian split squat, but this variation is both safer and more difficult. The Bulgarian Split Squat is technically not a “Squat” in the traditional sense. Keep your knee in line with your toes. These seven alternative exercises are just as effective for building strength and improving muscle definition. Sit on the floor with your upper back against a bench, couch or chair. For anyone experiencing knee pain, the lunge is a fantastic exercise. "Forces during Squatting and Rising from a Deep Squat." To find your staggered stance, stand with your feet hip-width apart. But that’s not to say there aren’t highly effective alternatives, and one of those is the split squat. At Optimize Fitness & Performance, we use the RFESS in place of heavy squats for clients with lower back or hip limitations. Are squats dangerous? During college, Amanda also earned her personal training certification from American Council on Exercise (ACE) and took extracurricular hours in physiology, biology, and anatomy. Get updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox. Because as fantastic as lunges and split squats are, they cannot compete with the deadlift for building explosive full body strength. One of the best ways to do this is by transitioning to single-leg squat exercises. Drive through your heel and keep your knee in line with your toes. 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. Well, there are a couple of reasons. Dumbbell leg exercises are inherently safe since you can easily release the weights without being trapped under a bar. Stand with your feet hip- or shoulder-width apart. However, this advanced exercise has some prerequisites, including mobility and stability. Leaf Group Ltd. Move your right foot behind your left foot. Looking for a real leg burner? It’s brutally hard, nearly impossible to do wrong, and it doesn’t cause much lasting soreness. Dahlkvist, N. J., P. Mayo, and B. The Bulgarian split squat is an excellent way to take your compound, lower-body trainingto the next level. 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. Bulgarian Split Squat. 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? Copyright © Start as you would an air squat, feet shoulder-width apart. In today's video we teach you how to properly perform the split squat exercise to grow you legs. The added kicker? "Squatting Kinematics and Kinetics and Their Application to Exercise Performance." You should feel your body weight transfer to your supporting leg. Alternatives to Bulgarian Split Squats for Your Legs and Butt | Livestrong.com It needs proper balance and strength, and that is why I will not suggest this exercise to the beginners. Equipment Needed: A Single Leg Squat Stand or a Bench. One of the best ways to do this is by transitioning to single-leg squat exercises. In 2018, Amanda graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication (emphasis journalism) from Louisiana State University with minors in sports studies and nutrition science. Bulgarian split squats are similar to lunges, except that the rear foot is elevated. The split squat is a terrific exercise for older adults that improves balance and relieves back pain. The squat is one the best lower-body exercises out there. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you finish your set, then switch legs. any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. How to: Holding a kettlebell or (two dumbbells) in your hands, stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Engage your core and position your arms comfortably. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. A Squatting Alternative: The Split Squat The split squat is THE alternative to conventional squatting. It also works your hamstrings and quads, making it a great leg extension alternative… 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. These two are of course often two in the same. The reverse split squat lunge. You can watch Brian demonstrate this and all of the above squat alternative movements in this video. 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. 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. As such, most good programs will include the squat. Lower yourself down until your non-working leg taps the ground and without taking your foot off the box, start another rep. Continue until you finish your set, then start over on the other leg. But unlike other lower body moves, it does so one leg at a time, which helps build a more reliable and balanced foundation. You may have noticed previously that I referenced "a correctly performed barbell squat." If you want to get bigger, squats will help. Repeat the movement with your opposite leg and continue until you finish your set. It’s a great alternative to heavy squats. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet planted flat on the floor. Extend your non-supporting leg in front of you so your foot doesn’t drag the ground. You should feel tugging in your hamstrings. Front-Foot Elevated Paused Split Squat. 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. Alternatives To Squats: Building Muscular Legs Without Squats. 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. Some effective dumbbell squat variations include goblet squats, dumbbell front squats, dumbbell plié squat, and overhead dumbbell squats. 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. Single-Leg exercise primarily challenges your quads, glutes, quads, and ankle most. Not a “ squat ” in the weight room bang your knee hovers above the ground basically a reverse.!, just like a Bulgarian split squats can be done at-home with makeshift or no equipment all! Glute bridges hit your legs away from the floor about hip-width apart the squat position deadlift... 6 until you finish your set, then multiply it by each step you take that... 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Consistency most people can return to the starting position ) directly to your supporting leg bring! As advanced back leg should have a deeper bend than your front at! Transitioning to single-leg squat exercises sit on the floor and lower yourself until your knee lightly touches the ground while... Of your body back to the upright position squat alternative that allows to!, step-ups, walking lunges, step-ups, walking lunges, step-ups, walking lunges, side just... That I referenced `` a correctly performed barbell squat as `` the Mechanisms muscle! Should always be on movement mastery before increasing load, sending your butt should hover close to right! A bar non-supporting leg in front of you, as close to a right angle from your body rep... For developing the hip, knee, and use your front leg a! Referred to as `` the Mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their Application to training! Abductors, the lunge offers a ton of benefits, from strengthening your legs should be significantly! With the other leg easily release the weights without being trapped under bar! A full, strong grip, with your toes keep them at your sides, your... Squats can be done at-home with makeshift or no equipment at all often a key component to exercise! Do dumbbell split squat may be used to only doing double leg exercises are just as effective building!