Home Blog Strength Exercise of the Week: DB Bulgarian Split Squat from Deficit

Strength Exercise of the Week: DB Bulgarian Split Squat from Deficit

Written on October 25, 2010 at 3:12 am, by Eric Cressey

Looking for a masochistic new strength exercise to add to your resistance training program? Try the Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat from Deficit, one of my favorite movements for improving hip mobility while really challenging lower body strength and frontal plane stability. If you need to shake up your workout routine, this is a great place to start – assuming you don't mind being miserably sore!

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11 Responses to “Strength Exercise of the Week: DB Bulgarian Split Squat from Deficit”

  1. Keenan Says:

    I love the Bulgarian Split Squat, in all it’s forms, but a friend and I noticed that BOTH of our lower backs curve at the bottom of the movement.

    That is, not rounding at the bottom, but the lumbar spine actually appears to curve from left to right (or vice versa, depending on which leg is forward). He noticed it while I was lifting and I noticed it while he was lifting. Have you ever seen that and is it something to be concerned about?

    Also, what loading and rep structures would you recommend for a DB exercise like this, relative to barbell back squat loading? For instance, if someone is back squatting 275 for 4-6 reps, how much weight would they use for this?

    Finally, what are your thoughts on doing *barbell* Bulgarian split squat with the bar racked on your clavicles, like a front squat? (I know this post is about DBs, I’m just asking)

  2. Niel Says:

    I did these last week, although from a lower height. I used a 45lb. plate to elevate my leading foot and even that gave me a decent amount of soreness.

  3. jack Says:

    Try these barefoot and discover a whole world of stabilization issues that will shock you in most cases.

  4. Jimmy Lamour Says:

    I haven’t tried the Bulgarian Splits with a deficit. I know if those challenged my stability then a deficit will just add to challenge. It looks like a nice addition in the tool box to build up proper leg strength w/ mobility to boot.

  5. Deborah Says:

    Masochistic is right. I do basic bulgarians on Saturdays with lots of swearing at the bench supporting my back foot (because it’s obviously the inanimate object’s fault they are SO HARD). I’ll keep these in mind for the day the basic ones feel easy (is there such a day in my future???) 🙂

  6. Ryan Says:

    Looks good! Will try it next day. EC, I have a small request. It would be awesome if you could post demonstration videos of you or your colleagues using weights that you would actually use (i.e. heavier).

    Cheers! Keep up the good work!


  7. eugene Says:

    Just in case you didn’t know, Sir. We have laws in this country about, “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”. Thanks, Eric, I think. (Show and Go is great stuff, btw.

  8. Chris Says:

    These are fun in a masochistic kind of way.

  9. Phil Says:

    Hey Eric,

    Just wanted to see what your thoughts were on the loading and risks that this exercise places on the meniscus. As a PT, I’m hesistant to do these type of exercises below 90 degrees of knee flexion simply because I’m not terribly excited about the risk/reward I’m getting with this exercise. I am a big fan of doing them to 90, particularly for those with PFPS. I’m familiar with the research from Excamilla, the position statements from the NSCA, and your statement that there are no contraindicated execises, just contraindicated people. I was just curious what your thoughts were here. Thanks!

  10. Alexa Says:

    Keenan – it sounds like you’re reaching the limit of your hip flexor flexibility, and your friend is too. Keeping the hips squared is more important than getting farther down into the split squat.

  11. Josh Says:

    Don’t like the mechanics of the BSS with the exaggerated hip flexor stretch on the hind-leg side. It’s better with the modified/more acute bent-knee hind-leg.

    My preferred alternative is the high-box pistol with inactive leg hanging straight down. It also has transferability to the front squat since the torso wants to track forward and controlling it strengthens upright posture while in the hole.

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