Split Squat VS. Bilgarian Split Squat: What’s The Difference?

From time immemorial, man has developed ways of keeping fit and staying in shape. Whether you are an athlete or a bodybuilder, the need to stay fit and maintain a healthy physique cannot be overemphasized. Fitness enthusiasts will tell you that staying in shape is not just about running several meters or kilometers and sweating profusely. No, things have changed, and it is much more scientific than it used to be. These days, as a fitness enthusiast, everything counts. What you eat and what you do not eat matter a lot. What you do, the way you do them and what you do not do are also a critical factor.

For example, you will not get the desired result if you do pushups with the wrong technique. In fact, it will amount to self-punishment. Burning calories is important for healthy living. Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is equally important, and it refers to the quantity of calories that you will burn if you were asleep whole day. To calculate BMR, the variables of age, weight, height and body mass are used.

Whether you desire to build your upper body or lower body, there are different programs for different parts of the body. As humans, we must continually engage our bodies and carry out anabolic activities for the sake of our health and general wellbeing. The importance of a good workout plan cannot be over flogged. Apart from your health, your self-confidence also benefits. Squatting is one of the numerous programs that help you stay in shape, and that is our major focus of this article.  It is a specific exercise performed by bending deeply at the knees and then rising, especially with a barbell resting across the shoulders. Squatting works the hamstrings, glutes, and quads. There are different types of squats. However, what we want to do is to dichotomize between the split squat and Bulgarian split squat. Although they both share a lot of similarities in their positioning, execution, and muscles they impact, there are still some differences between them.

What is a split squat?

This is a level higher than lunges and pushups. While a split squat does not engage the rear legs, a lunge does. Although, both exercises involve positioning one leg forward and the other leg behind, the plunge isn’t as effective as the split squat. The split squat allows you to focus the load on one leg thereby developing the lower body muscles quicker, but the lunge distributes this load evenly across the two legs. The split squat is generally designed to work one leg at a time while the lunge engages both legs simultaneously. The scope of a split squat is such that your legs create a static axis for you to move weight (either your body weight or your body weight plus an added weight). After striking a balance between your two legs (working leg and resting leg), you go down and return to your starting position continuously. This must be done without moving your feet, and the effect is usually felt around the gluteal muscles, quadriceps, hamstring, and thighs. Your calf muscles are not exempted from the impact of this exercise.

If not properly executed, the split squat could pose a severe danger to your back and knees. You must ensure proper alignment between your knee and your second toe when doing the split squat. You also have to be careful not to overextend your knee. To avoid this, you have to move your front foot forward and watch the position of your shoulders and chest.

What is a Bulgarian split squat?

This single-leg strength exercise is very easy to learn. It also improves balance and stamina as well as building lower-body mass. When doing the Bulgarian split squat, you must ensure you go through the full range of motion otherwise you wouldn’t feel any effect of the exercise. To make the most of this exercise and also to prevent injuries, your front foot mustn’t be too far forward. If rightly done, your calves, hamstring, and quads will benefit immensely from this lower-body program. Some common variations of the Bulgarian split squat are

  • Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat: This involves holding a dumbbell in each hand as you perform the movement. Adding some weight is better than the unweighted version for people who are not beginners
  • Gym ball Bulgarian split squat with a twist: If you aren’t keen on using the weight, this is another way of doing the Bulgarian split squat. This variation tests your coordination and balance
  • Gym ball Bulgarian split squat: Resting your back foot on a gym ball tasks your body balance. This variant of the Bulgarian split squat asks more questions about the stability of your front leg and how much pressure your leg muscles can withstand.

Execution of a split squat

You can either use a barbell or a squat rack. Regardless of the method you choose, you must ensure you position your body well enough to avoid injuries. When using barbells, you must begin from a split squat position with your front leg, back leg behind and weight on your heel. To start with, you have to position yourself on the squat rack. The bar is set on the squat rack, and you grip it while maintaining a stable stance when lifting it off the rack. After this, proceed to take a big step forward with a leg until you are in a split position. You must, however, ensure your chest is pushed forward, your back is straight, and the weight is evenly distributed across both legs to avoid injury and to improve comfort. You can then go down gradually until your knee is just off the floor forming an angle of 90 degrees between both legs. The next thing that is required is for you to push yourself up with an upward force. However, you must remember to keep your back straight and your chest forward. The process should be repeated for as many times as you are comfortable with.

Execution of a Bulgarian split squat

Here are a few tips on how to do the Bulgarian split squat

1. Look for a bench or step that measures up to your knee height. This is where you will rest your foot

2. Set your body up in a forward lunge position. The ideal positioning involves elevating your back foot on the bench, hips should be square to the body, and torso should be properly aligned and upright. The distance of your leading leg from the bench is also important and it shouldn’t be more than half a meter.

3. Go down steadily until your front thigh is about 180 degrees from the floor. While doing this, the alignment between your knee and your foot mustn’t be altered

4. Return to your starting position by lifting your bodyweight through your front heel.

5. Repeat the procedure eight to ten more times

Split squat vs. Bulgarian split squat

The Bulgarian split squat falls under the split squat type of lower-body exercise. Usually, the split squat and Bulgarian split squat work the same types of muscles. Hence, they can produce a similar effect on the same part of the body. In both exercises, the front leg is the working leg and the back leg provides balance. This implies that the front leg bears much of the load. The major difference between the split squat and Bulgarian split squat is in the way you position your body. The exercise technique is the same albeit the Bulgarian split squat seems to be a little bit more difficult because the exercise range of motion is increased due to the elevated leg position. The risks and chances of injuries are also higher with the Bulgarian split squat than the regular split squat. When you’re a beginner, do not begin with an extra weight. Start by pushing your body weight and build on from there.

Muscle groups worked

Both types of split squats work almost the same kind of muscles. The hamstring, thigh muscles, heel, quadriceps, glute, knee and calf muscles are well worked and become stronger, firmer and tougher.

Final Thoughts

The split squat and Bulgarian split squat each have their unique properties. However, they are very similar in the kind of effect they produce on the lower-body. Also, the method of execution is not different, and the exercise technique for both are the same. The major difference between the two is in how the body is positioned when the exercise is carried out. The Bulgarian version is a tad above the regular split squat because it depends more on your strength and energy to push weights due to increased range of motion and balance challenge. All in all, you must exercise caution when carrying out any of the two to prevent fracture and muscular injuries. You must ensure your back is aligned correctly and your chest is pointing forward. Also, try as hard as you can not to rest too much weight on your legs. 

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