What is the Bulgarian squat? What is it for?
The Bulgarian squat falls into the category of exercises defined as “split squats” in which we have one leg in front of us that goes to perform the movement and one behind us that serves to provide us with balance and stability. It is a multiarticular variant in which we have the involvement of 3 joints:
The movements that mainly occur during this exercise are 2:
- Knee flexion-extension: bends when you go down, and extends when you go up;
- Hip flexion-extension: when you go down the thigh and torso come closer (flexion), while when you go up they move away (it is a compass movement).
This exercise is used as a basis for training the lower limbs including the buttocks but based on some precautions we can vary the emphasis on the various muscles, on which ones and how to do it we will see shortly.
Bulgarian squat: correct execution, technique and tutorial
The correct execution of the exercise involves the use of a bench, a medium-sized box or a rise in general that does not exceed the level of the knees but is at approximately the same height.
- Stand with the bench (placed horizontally) behind you with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart.
- Bring the instep of one leg resting on the bench (the shinbone or “shin” does not touch the bench), leaving the other foot resting on the ground with the leg extended.
- Adjust the distance from the bench and the width of the foot on the ground looking for a comfortable position where you feel stable. About 80-90% of the load falls on the foot on the ground.
- Flex the knee (bend the leg) and start to go down, trying to get with the pelvis under the parallel, indicatively “lower” than the knee of the working leg, a possible reference is to touch the ground with the knee of the leg rear.
- Go up by extending the knee.
The torso during the movement can be more or less inclined forward (variable hip flexion), in the same way the foot on the ground can be more or less close to the bench, as well as the load on it can be more or less towards toe or heel. We will see what changes in terms of muscle work in the next paragraphs.
Mistakes not to make while running
- Losing the physiological curves of the spine, ” hunched ” executions and with compensation are to be avoided;
- Placing the foot on the ground in line with the foot on the bench creates insecurity. To avoid this, position yourself following the sequence seen above.
- Place your foot on the ground too close or too far away.
- “ Falling ” inward with the knee of the working leg (dynamic knee valgus);
- To go down too little in the eccentric phase, thus decreasing the muscular work;
- Anticipating the ascent from below with the pelvis, “la sculata”, pelvis and shoulders rise simultaneously;
- Tilt the pelvis towards the supporting leg, the pelvis remains straight, frontally the hips are at the same level;
- Help yourself with the leg resting behind by pressing the foot on the bench, taking away work from the other one who performs the exercise.
Muscles involved in the Bulgarian squat: what does it train?
The muscles most involved are:
- Gluteus maximus
- Small buttock, middle buttock
- Hamstrings (hamstring, semimembranous, semitendinosus)
- Abdominal core muscles (as a stabilizer).
We can more or less emphasize the work on the quadriceps or the buttocks, let’s see what tricks we can use in the classic variant with one foot on the ground and the other on the bench.
Glute emphasis, ” hip dominant ” movement (hip dominant):
- Position yourself with your foot on the ground so that when you begin the descent you feel the load on the foot on the ground towards the heel, the extended leg seen in profile is perpendicular to the ground.
- As you go down, flex your torso forward while maintaining the physiological curves of the back, at the bottom you should feel a slight stretch in the buttock of the working leg.
- Descend as low as you can, to the point where you can maintain the lumbar curve (lumbar lordosis).
- Step up thinking that your heel will sink into the floor.
Quadriceps Emphasis, Knee Dominant Movement :
- Place your foot on the ground closer to the bench, the load on it you need to feel central / slightly more front.
- During the movement, keep your torso straight, without tilting it forward.
- Go as low as you can, at least to the parallel, but also lower if you can keep the physiological curves.