Squat Replacement

The barbell back squat is known as the king of leg exercises. It’s one of my favorite movements to do.The problem is not everyone can squat or wants to squat for a number of reasons including fear or injuries. I always recommend having  the back squat or front squat in your arsenal. One alternative to these movements is the single-leg Bulgarian split squat. This exercise has helped me tremendously over the years. It helped me recover from a knee injury because it strengthens the VMO muscle that stabilizes your patella tendon. This also means it’s a good exercise for injury prevention. Unlike the leg press and leg extension, the split squat engages many muscles. You’ll feel your glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors when doing split squats. It also engages your core so you can balance on one leg.Split squats have also helped me improve my squats due to the leg work.

Unlike the front and back squats, split squats can give your legs a heavy workout without stressing the spine. I still love doing back squats and would like to do front squats eventually but split squats have their benefits as well. Split squats can be used as an accessory exercise or as the main lift if you want to go heavy. You’ll be surprised how much weight you can push with your one leg.

Split squats are also great for athletes since most sports movements involve using one leg at a time. The stronger you are, the greater your athletic potential. Pushing off with one leg mimics the motion of sprinting and jumping off one leg. The Bulgarian Split Squat will also train your balance, which is important in keeping your body injury free when playing a sport.The movement is very similar to a lunge. The main difference is that your back leg is resting on a bench with the front of your ankle touching the bench. Some people prefer to do it with the front of their toes touching the bench. With your one leg that’s touching the floor, move down like you would do for a lunge. Once your front leg makes a 90 degree angle, push back up. I recommend practicing with your body weight so you can get comfortable with the movement.

I’m a big supporter of more bang for your buck exercises and the Bulgarian split squats passes the test. It builds stability and balance in your legs to prevent injuries as well as recover from injuries. It builds leg strength and muscle that can help with big lifts like squats and deadlifts. Split squats also great for helping athletic performance. I promise you won’t regret adding split squats to your arsenal.


Photo by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet on TrendHype / CC BY

Author: Chris Ameto

I'm passionate about health and fitness. I want to use my personal experience and countless hours of research to help you reach your fitness goals.

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