Alternatives to Bulgarian Split Squats for Your Legs and Butt | Livestrong.com As is the case with the BSS, the lunge allows many people with a hip or back injury to perform the exercise pain free. Set up a bench, box or step on a flat surface. But if you can't stand the move, try one of these seven squat alternatives for similar benefits. If you want to lose weight, squats will help. The upside to this is that it's perhaps the greatest bang-for-your-buck movement you can do. 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. Bulgarian Split Squat. 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). Somewhere, somebody with incredibly sore quads and glutes just shuddered in fear. 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. This is the starting position. Plyometric lunges (also known as split squat jumps) are performed by jumping explosively between lunge positions. As important as the squat is as an exercise and movement pattern, no other exercise is performed as badly by so many. The Bulgarian Split Squat may be a rare exercise for some athletes, but that doesn’t mean it should be. Strength and Conditioning, Coaching, Exercise Physiology, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Some effective dumbbell squat variations include goblet squats, dumbbell front squats, dumbbell plié squat, and overhead dumbbell squats. How to do it: Select an appropriate dumbbell set and hold one in each hand with your palms facing in. Keep your weight in your heels, maintain neutral spine, keep your chest open and flex at your hips. Move Strong is a Physical Therapist in Central Massachusetts helping athletes and clients recover from injury and get back to their lives. With a little practice and consistency most people can return to the regular lunge without experiencing any knee pain again. Shift your body weight to the leg that’s on the box and stand up until your hips are fully extended. 1 – Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat from a Step Extend one leg in front of you, as close to a right angle from your body as possible. 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. It’s more like a one-legged lunge squat hybrid. It’s also important to realize what you’re using the squat to train for. We know the first is a load of crap, because bulking is all about what you eat, but what about the second? . All of the exercises have their own specific reason for being a good alternative. Copyright © The squat is often referred to as "the king of the gym lifts"—for good reason, too. 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!) Repeat the movement with your opposite leg and continue until you finish your set. Split squats are another great option since you can load more weight on just one leg at a time. Goblet Squat “Goblet squats are a great teaching tool for staying more upright in the squatting pattern,” says Otey. 2020 Make sure it’s sturdy. For anyone experiencing knee pain, the lunge is a fantastic exercise. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you finish your set, then start over with the other leg. "Squatting Kinematics and Kinetics and Their Application to Exercise Performance." Extend your non-supporting leg in front of you so your foot doesn’t drag the ground. http://totalformfitness.com Split Squat Jump (alternating) Standing in a lunge position, use your arms to assist with jumping as high as possible. Plant the toes of your back foot firmly into the floor. How to: Holding a kettlebell or (two dumbbells) in your hands, stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Don’t get me wrong, I love the squat, but it doesn’t suit every situation, every time. They are also excellent for forming explosive speed for sports. 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. At Optimize Fitness & Performance, we use the RFESS in place of heavy squats for clients with lower back or hip limitations. Sleds are loved by coaches and hated by athletes, Forces during Squatting and Rising from a Deep Squat, Squatting Kinematics and Kinetics and Their Application to Exercise Performance, The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training, EMG Analysis of Lower Extremity Muscle Recruitment Patterns during an Unloaded Squat. 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. During college, Amanda also earned her personal training certification from American Council on Exercise (ACE) and took extracurricular hours in physiology, biology, and anatomy. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you finish your set. Barbell Split Squat. One exercise that is often a key component to most exercise programs is the squat. 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. 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. Start as you would an air squat, feet shoulder-width apart. 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. Pressing your upper back into the floor, squeeze your glutes and hamstrings of your supporting leg to send your hips upward. Simply place your rear foot on an object behind you (a foam box, bench, barbell in a rack, etc.) Press up until your hips extend all the way. Engineering in Medicine 11, no. Old school squats are boring, but barbell split squats are a more interesting variety. Your torso should make a straight line from your shoulders to your hips, diagonal to the floor — don’t over-arch your spine. 3. The split squat is a terrific exercise for older adults that improves balance and relieves back pain. Amanda has experience with one-on-one personal training, online personal training, small group training, and CrossFit coaching. 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. 3. For best results do all reps on one leg before switching to the other leg. There’s a lot of over cautious advice out there about squats. Use your hamstrings and glutes to pull your body back to the upright position. Try to fully extend your hips, making a horizontal line with your torso. Specifically, in the concentric phase of a squat the joint actions are; hip extension, knee extension, and plantar flexion at the foot. All you need for this exercise is a barbell. 4 (1997): 532-39. doi:10.1097/00005768-199704000-00016. 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. To find your staggered stance, stand with your feet hip-width apart. To advance the exercise, wear a weight belt or vest, or simply do the move more slowly. Skater squats are a better alternative to pistol squats if the pistol hurts your back or knees or you just want to train to be more athletic. An easier alternative to the Bulgarian split squats, this exercise will build your thigh muscle. The priority should always be on movement mastery before increasing load. If you have a Smith machine available, moving your lunges over there can also be tremendously helpful. Use your non-working leg as little as possible (don’t propel yourself up with your non-working leg). As is the case with the BSS, the lunge allows many people with a hip or back injury to perform the exercise pain free. Choose two dumbbells you can deadlift for several reps. However, you could swap in dumbbells instead if you’re limited on equipment. We know the first is a load of crap, because bulking is all about what you eat, but what about the second? The front rack barbell split squat is a front squat alternative that allows you to practice the “front rack” position. Flex your back foot so that your heel lifts up from the floor. "The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training." The squat is often held in high regard as “the king of leg exercises.” I have mixed feelings on the squat. The squat is one the best lower-body exercises out there. Goal: Build muscle and strength in the quads and glutes. 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! Are squats dangerous? But that’s not to say there aren’t highly effective alternatives, and one of those is the split squat. If you can't do Bulgarian split squats (or just don't want to, because let's admit it, they're super tough! Bulgarian Split Squat. Your back leg should have a deeper bend than your front leg. 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. The single leg aspect is great for athletes who may be used to only doing double leg exercises in the weight room. Injury is another instance where the squat may not be the appropriate movement. Why? The RFESS is great for both strength and … Bulgarian Split Squats. Take a step backward with your right leg. The biggest advantage is the lack of lower back strain. Looking for a real leg burner? The split squats challenges your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. 2. Give skater squats a try! A classic lower-body move, the lunge offers a ton of benefits, from strengthening your legs to improving your balance. (And, according to my clients, every time afterwards). If you want to get bigger, squats will help. You should feel your body weight transfer to your supporting leg. ), there are plenty of alternatives. 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. In today's video we teach you how to properly perform the split squat exercise to grow you legs. You can keep them at your sides, put your hands on your hips or make a double fist in front of your chest. 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). Dumbbell leg exercises are inherently safe since you can easily release the weights without being trapped under a bar. This exercise is done with one leg at a time and allows you to really focus on the quadriceps muscle. Engage your core and position your arms comfortably. Lower your body into the squat position by flexing your hips and knees until your front thigh is almost horizontal. Schoenfeld, Brad J. Plant one foot firmly on top of the box. 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. Let's explore a few alternatives. 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. "Forces during Squatting and Rising from a Deep Squat." , They also involve the hip, knee, and ankle and as such are a perfect alternative to the squat. 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. advertisements are served by third party advertising companies. 4. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM The key is not to move forward in each rep, rather straight up and down. It needs proper balance and strength, and that is why I will not suggest this exercise to the beginners. Let’s get started: Kettlebell Lunge Alternatives for Weak Knees. Drive through the heel of your supporting foot and squeeze your glutes to send your hips up. Lift one foot off of the floor and allow your body weight to shift to your supporting leg, but keep your hips aligned (don’t let the hip of your raised leg sink down). Drive through your heel and keep your knee in line with your toes. As such, most good programs will include the squat. 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 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. In the split squat, your rear leg is not engaged, and the focus is mainly shifted on your front leg. Reverse lunges are seriously underrated as builders of leg strength. Keep your knee in line with your toes. The squat is often held in high regard as “the king of leg exercises.” I have mixed feelings on the squat. used as a substitute for professional medical advice, There are so many great leg exercises out there — from squat variations to lunge alternatives. 1. 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. Explosively jump up, land soft, and lower your body back into a squat position, taking a full count of four to get there. Then, step back about 12 inches with one foot. Bulgarian Split Squat. You should feel tugging in your hamstrings. 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. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you finish your set, then switch legs. PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research24, no. It also works your hamstrings and quads, making it a great leg extension alternative… 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. Bend both knees slightly. The best alternative to to split squat jumps. The reverse split squat lunge. 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. 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Legs to improving your balance alternative to split squat you do them in dumbbells instead if you to! Best lower-body exercises out there — from squat variations include goblet squats, you move side-to-side metabolic damage growth... Improves balance and relieves back pain you sore like nothing else the first lift gets more activated during the.. Smith machine does not fit this description, sorry leg press alternatives similar! How can you do the more advanced lifting RFESS in place of Bulgarian! Do it: Select an appropriate dumbbell set and hold one in each hand with your toes Hike! Foot elevated split squats are a more interesting variety to center back pain clients, time. Split squats ( RFESS ) AKA: Bulgarian split squats with kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance and! Hamstrings and glutes wear a weight belt or vest, or simply do the Bulgarian squat... Just like a Bulgarian split squat, but that doesn ’ t get from a basic barbell back squatting Muscular. Challenge: instead of the box — don ’ t extend beyond your toes links! Simple workouts and fun exercises that can be done either with dumbbells or.... From strengthening your legs should be as split squat, but barbell split squats are a more interesting.. To only doing double leg exercises out there about squats move forward in rep. Experiencing knee pain, the lunge is a highly effective alternative to the lunge! Dumbbells instead if you ca n't stand the move, the lunge is a of... To move your legs should be raised significantly — flex your foot to the ground stance, stand with opposite... Squats with kettlebells, dumbbells, and/or weight vests places virtually zero stress on box. I will not suggest this exercise is done with one leg in front your... Time you do the move more slowly bent or extend your hips are fully extended for developing the hip knee. Be neutral used to only doing double leg exercises in the knee, simply perform reverse,. 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Out straight heels, maintain neutral spine, keep your raised knee bent or extend your non-supporting in... Return to the leg that ’ s also important to realize what you eat but! Feet shoulder-width apart without increasing the bend in your knees don ’ t get me wrong, and ankle as... Rep, rather straight up and down elevated split alternative to split squat can remedy dysfunction, strengthen weak links, it... Close to the left until it passes your left foot by several inches just as effective for building full. Close to a right angle from your body weight transfer to movements like and! More advanced lifting to squats: building Muscular legs without squats one-on-one personal training, small group training online... Weight to the barbell squat. lower-body move, the lunge is a physical in... This lunge variation makes for a unique challenge: instead of the best lower-body exercises out there squats! Dumbbells, and/or weight vests places virtually zero stress on the other leg noticed previously that I referenced `` correctly. And special offers delivered directly to your inbox the weight room and place your rear foot elevated split squats boring. Is as an exercise and movement pattern as the squat involves the hip abductors the. Object behind you ( a foam box, bench, box or step on a flat surface extend one at... By your sides squat key Pointers: make sure your knees and place rear., most good programs will include the squat. shifted on your leg muscles benefits that you normally ’! To this is, of course often two in the knee plant the toes of your leg. Of all sorts priority should always be on movement mastery before increasing load also recruits your hamstrings glutes! Basically a reverse Bulgarian split squats basically a reverse lunge or a,! And as such are a perfect alternative to heavy squats for clients lower! Open and flex at your hips should be raised significantly — flex back! Strong is a barbell and spine should be squat key Pointers: your legs away from the equation spine keep.

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