The Bulgarian Split Squat, quite the name! I’ve come across many alternative names being thrown around in and out of the gym to describe this movement, anything from the ‘Russian leg bend’ to the ‘Deficit one legged reverse squat’ - neither of which are accurate. Similar to the many alternating names, there are many alternating ways I have seen this exercise performed - but only a few variations are correct.
Fixing the mistakes in your split squat will help you target the right muscles, will remove any strain on your back and will help you crush your leg day.
Single leg training can transform your progress to add size and/or strength to your lower body. Whether you’re trying to grow those chicken legs or shape your booty - mixing single leg isolation exercises with some heavy compound movements like squats and deadlifts will result in some serious progress.
However, failing to get the form right on these movements may result in you getting injured or just simply not making the progress you want. So keep reading to find out about the most common split squat mistakes and how you can fix them.
Common Bulgarian Split Squat Mistakes
Common Mistake #1: Distributing weight evenly on both legs
I often see people putting too much weight on the rear leg, which makes it hard for them to balance and fail to activate the front leg. One of the main objectives of the split squat is to improve the strength of the front leg, while the function of the rear leg is to provide balance and stability.
Try to ensure that the majority of your weight is solely on the front leg and the back leg is there for support without actually bearing any weight.
Common Mistake #2: Standing too upright
Usually it is recommended to stand upright in most exercises, but the split squat should be completed differently. When your rear foot is elevated and you try to stand completely upright, it is easy to slip into excessive anterior pelvic and lumbar hyperextension which will damage your back and block the full range of motion.
Fix this by leaning your torso slightly forward, this will make it easier to maintain a neutral spine position and use a full range of motion. This will activate your muscles properly and you’ll feel the burn without feeling any pain!
Common Mistake #2: Elevating the back foot too high
Most people use a standard gym bench for the split squat, without wondering whether it is the right height for them. If you’re a 5”2 female and you’re using the same bench height as a 6”4 male to do your split squats, then maybe you should think about using a lower bench. Look to use a bench that is roughly equal to the height of your knees.
You can start off lower than this to get used to the movement but once you’re used to it then keep the bench around knee height. Having a bench that is too high will put too much strain on your knees and cause your pelvic to hyperextend.