Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Bulgarian Split Squat

One of the great advantages of the Bulgarian Split Squat over lunges is the ability to go below parallel. This is important, because in a squat based movement (which the lunge is) the gluteus maximus does not fully engage until the knee and hip are bent at 90/90.

Now some of you may have noticed that while I covered several progressions and variations for the lunge, the Bulgarian split squat is the only split squat variation I have covered, leaving out the regular split squat. This is because, as a general rule, the split squat is a lame exercise, providing little in the way of challenge and benefit. It is the same basic movement pattern as the lunge, only with a shorter range of motion, and it is in the end range of motion (Full hip flexion and full hip extension) that we see the real benefits of these movements.

To perform the Bulgarian split squat, place one foot behind you on a bench, or 18" jump box. With your weight driving through the heel of your front foot (are you noticing a pattern here?) squat down as far as you can, while maintaining an upright posture in the upper body. Press back up until the hip is fully extended. Ideally, you will be able to squat down to where the hip is bent to an angle less than 90 degrees. Keep with it, as it may take some time to develop the strength and mobility to do so. The deeper you go, the more benefit you will see here.

Once you can get to full depth, you can progress the difficulty by adding weight: first with dumbbells held at your sides, then with a barbell on your back and finally with dumbbells held overhead.

One last thing: I need you to promise me that you will never perform your Bulgarian Split Squats (or any other exercise) in a Smith Machine. I know, I know, everyone else at your gym does, including the trainers. I could write a whole post on the reasons the Smith Machine is one of the worst pieces of equipment, and I promise that sometime in the next few weeks I will. For now, I'm just going to ask you to trust me when I say that it inhibits performance, while setting you up for injury.

Train smart; eat right.

No comments:

Post a Comment