Whether you run, lift weights or do yoga, having strong and toned leg muscles will only benefit your overall performance, and squats are easily the most effective way to get you there. And when it comes to today’s squat variation, it’s the go-to workout for Matt Damon as he trained for his latest Jason Bourne movie. Squats chiefly use the gluteal muscles in the body, but depending upon the variation you choose, it can also be an effective workout for your quadriceps, hip muscles, and calves, as well as your cores including the abs and lower back.

Once you’ve mastered the basic two-legged squat, the next level is to take on the load with one leg. This is where the Bulgarian Split Squat power workouts come in. Considered to be a fairly advanced lower-body workout, this variation builds lower body muscles without the additional stress on the back, which can sometimes occur with traditional squats. It also helps stretch our hip flexors—the muscles that we keep contracted by sitting for long periods of time. Additionally, routines like this which requires you to balance on one leg also helps level any strength imbalances between your legs.

Steps:

  • Stand about two to three feet away from a bench or a step, with your back to it.
  • Lift your left leg up behind you and place it on top of the bench, allowing the knee to bend slightly.
  • Bend your right knee, and slowly lower yourself to the ground. Ensure that your back remains upright.
  • Hold the pose for a moment when your right thigh is slightly below parallel to the floor and your left knee is nearly touching the floor.
  • Slowly raise yourself back again. This completes one repetition. You can do about 8-12 reps before switching legs.

Pro-tip
Like all squats, inhale when you squat down and exhale when you come back up again. Keep your body weight on the front leg and you back straight and still through the movement. It’s best to do this on an exercise mat so as to prevent your back knee from scraping the floor. You can also decrease the height or use a lower step in case the knee of the back leg doesn’t come close to the floor. If you feel like you might lose your balance in the beginning, position yourself near a wall or a bar for support.

Variations
You can make this routine harder by holding dumbbells in both hands, depending on the weight category you are comfortable with. Start with the smaller weights before taking on bigger loads.

 

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