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December 8, 2022

Why Elevate The Front Foot for Bulgarian Split Squats

The Bulgarian split squat is a single leg squatting variation that biases the working the leg. They can be performed with a wider front to back stance and forward leaning chest, targeting the glutes. Or in more of a traditional squat stance, with the knee passing over the toe, and hip crease sinking below the top of the thigh/knee.

This split squat variation can also be loaded in many ways – back rack with a barbell, front rack, dumbbell and kettle bells – one arm, both arms, same side (ipsilateral), opposing side (contralateral) etc. Regardless of how you load the exercise, the surface the rear foot is on should be at or below the crease of your knee – your knee pit. Many commercial benches are too high, especially for women (being, in large, biologically shorter than their male counterparts).

A fix for a tall bench, OR simply another variation of the exercise is to elevate the front foot. Watch the video below for an explanation of how this is different than the foot of the working leg being on the ground. It’s a subtle change that can make a big difference.

To conclude and/or repeat:

We can elevate the front foot due to a bench that is too high, or for the straight forward reason of wanting: Accessing a deeper range of motion – specifically with flexion at the workin hip.

Elevating the front foot simply closes that height discrepancy whether the bench is the proper height or not. For reference, normal height is around 17-18 inches.

As far as elevation height, I would keep it under 3 inches. That will typically get you a deeper range of motion without letting that back knee touch the floor. But, ultimately you’ll need to find an elevated surface that works best for you. Just be sure it’s solid, and safe.

At the end of the day, play with it. Your shoe sole can play a role here, helping to elevate the foot a bit without you knowing. See how it feels. This style of video helpful? Let me know!

If you’d like to learn more about program design for strength, yes, and hypertrophy training over long term periodization, check out Pure PROgramming.

If you want to get strong, enjoy your workouts and make #educatedgains, then get on the Built by Annie waitlist. 

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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