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How to do bulgarian lunges - super movement for pumping your hips at home and in the gym
How to do bulgarian lunges - super movement for pumping your hips at home and in the gym

Many people do not like this exercise because they do it wrong.

How to do bulgarian lunges - super movement for pumping your hips at home and in the gym
How to do bulgarian lunges - super movement for pumping your hips at home and in the gym

What are Bulgarian lunges and why do they

The Bulgarian lunges are an exercise in which you squat on one leg, placing the other on an elevated position behind your body. Their other name is split squats.

You should definitely try this move as it:

  • Well pumps the hips and buttocks … If you are doing without weights, the Bulgarian lunges will work your legs much better than air squats. And to activate the muscles as effectively as in the back squat, you only need to take half of your usual working weight.
  • Loads the back of the thigh well … Several at once 1.

    2. Research has shown that this one-sided exercise activates the hamstrings much better than bipedal squats and lunges, and also works well for the gluteus medius.

  • Improves the sense of balance … Like any one-way movement, Bulgarian lunges teach the body to work in unstable conditions and put additional stress on the core muscles.
  • Helps correct imbalances in limb development … If one leg is stronger than the other, in bilateral movements it will automatically take up most of the load. Bulgarian lunges will help to evenly pump both limbs and get rid of the imbalance.

How to prepare for an exercise

Before you even begin to perform the exercise, it is worth finding a support of the optimal height and providing sufficient distance to it so that the lunges are comfortable and safe.

How to find a suitable elevation

To check if the support is suitable in height, stand one step away from it and turn your back, put the toe of your right leg on the edge and squat down until your right knee touches the floor.

If you feel a strong stretch in the front of your right thigh and cannot move your foot behind your standing leg, your support is too high - look for something lower.

In the video, Aaron Horshig, a physiotherapist and strength and conditioning specialist, shows how the foot should move if the support for the Bulgarian lunges is well chosen.

How to get in the right position

Place the toe of the foot on the selected elevation and lower into a squat until the knee touches the floor.

Shift your weight onto your forward leg as if you are preparing to rise. In this position, the lower leg of the supporting limb and the body should be parallel to each other.

Correct position for bulgarian lunges
Correct position for bulgarian lunges

Make sure that the forward leg is in line with the shoulder of the same name. For most people, this position will be comfortable.

Correct position for bulgarian lunges
Correct position for bulgarian lunges

How to do Bulgarian lunges correctly

Place your foot on a dais, put your hands on your belt or hold in front of your chest. Straighten your back and tighten your abs.

Bend your supporting leg and squat down to parallel with the hip with the bench. Do not try to reach the floor with your knee located at the back of the limb. Let it stay 5-10 centimeters from the surface.

Check that the heel of the supporting leg does not come off the floor at the bottom of the exercise. If you cannot resist this, reduce the range of motion - sit down as long as you manage to keep the entire foot on the horizontal.

Straighten out of the squat, controlling the position of the knee of the supporting leg: it should be directed straight forward.

What mistakes should be avoided when performing Bulgarian lunges

These flaws in technique reduce the effectiveness of the exercise and make it dangerous for the joints and back.


Some people move slightly backward when squatting. Due to this, part of the load is removed from the supporting leg, and the risk of falling increases. Therefore, try to move in a straight path and up and down to fully engage the working limb.

Inversion of the knee inward

If, during the lift, the knee of the supporting leg is twisted inward, the joint is in an unstable position, which can lead to ligament injury. Therefore, make sure that the knee looks clearly forward or even turns slightly outward.

Excessive tilt of the body

Excessive body tilt with Bulgarian lunges
Excessive body tilt with Bulgarian lunges

If the leg muscles are not strong enough, the core can move forward during the lift, so that you practically lie on your stomach on the thigh. To avoid this, do not lower your gaze and direct your chest horizontally.

Incorrect position of the foot on the dais

If the foot is far from the edge of the eminence, it will interfere with the full squatting range. Only a sock should be on a chair or bench.

What weights can you do Bulgarian lunges with?

If you manage to do 15-20 Bulgarian lunges per set, maintain good form and not lose balance, try the exercise with weights.

With two dumbbells or weights

Place the shells on the floor one step away from the support. Take a starting position with your leg on a dais, squat and take a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand. Straighten up, keeping the weight in the lowered hands, and repeat again.

With one dumbbell or kettlebell

Take a dumbbell or kettlebell and hold it in bent arms in front of your chest. Perform Bulgarian lunges, trying to keep your back straight and not lean forward.

In the Smith machine

Place a bench or stand a step away from the simulator, take the bar on your shoulders and remove the projectile from the racks. Place the toes of your foot on a dais and perform regular lunges, holding the bar with your hands on your shoulders.

With a barbell on the shoulders

If you are confident in your sense of balance, you can try the Bulgarian Free Barbell Lunges on your shoulders. Even so, check the empty neck technique first.

Place the bench 1–1.5 steps away from the racks, remove the barbell, step back and put your foot on the dais. Watch your body: if your body leans forward during the lift, you have taken too much weight.

With expander

This option is suitable for those who exercise at home and do not have access to free weights.

Fold the expander in half and step in the middle with your foot. Take loose loops and slide them over the folds of your elbows. Straighten the body, stretching the elastic bands, place one leg on the dais and perform Bulgarian lunges. Due to the elasticity of the expander at the exit from the squat, the load on the working leg will be greater.

How to choose weight, sets and reps

If you are doing a resistance exercise, do three to five sets of 8-12 times on each leg. Pick up the weight in such a way that the last repetitions in the approach are given with difficulty, but without flaws in the technique.

In other words, if by the 12th time there is a burning sensation in the hips, but you can still straighten your leg without lying on your stomach on your knee or turning the joint inward, the weight is chosen correctly.

If you are doing no resistance, you can increase the number of repetitions up to 20-25 times to get sufficient muscle stimulation. You can also add jumping out - the explosive component will increase the load.

How often to do Bulgarian lunges

It all depends on your training program and the equipment available. If you work without weights, for example doing strength at home, you can do Bulgarian lunges in every lesson dedicated to pumping your legs.

Complete the program with pistol squats, elevation strides and Nordic crunches, and you will be able to load your hips and buttocks to the fullest.

If you work out in the gym, use Bulgarian lunges plus back squats, leg presses, and other heavy weight movements.

Add an exercise to the second half of your workout once a week to build muscle gains, correct imbalances, and properly load the back of the thigh.