Advertising
Advertising

The Proper Way to Do the Bulgarian Split Squat for the Greatest Health Benefits

The Proper Way to Do the Bulgarian Split Squat for the Greatest Health Benefits

Do you want to build strong legs or develop your booty? Get a flat tummy and even acquire a sixpack? Increase your muscle activation and therefore maximize your strength? What if I told you that all of those goals can be achieved by doing one single exercise: The Bulgarian Split Squat.

Incorporate this exercise if you want to save time, increase your confidence and get to your goals faster. But let me tell you that the exercise is not a wonder pill.

How Your Body Will Change By Doing The Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a unilateral, compound exercise. It only trains one side of your body at a time and uses multiple joints for the movement. This makes the exercise special: a lot of muscle groups and nerve connections are involved. Leading to the following benefits:

Your Muscles Get Stronger

You’re doing the exercise with one leg. This increases the load on the specific muscles in your leg that help you build that booty or those quads. These physiological changes can lead to more confidence and general well-being.

On unilateral exercises, there’s also the Crossover Effect. If you train one side of your body, the other side will be trained to some extent too. This may be because your central nervous system is sending signals down to a common path way, that may still result in muscle activation. Again a great aspect in getting closer to your fitness results.

Because the leg muscles are one of the biggest muscles in your body, the exercise will also increase your free testosterone level. This is a good thing. The circulating testosterone will not only benefit your legs, but will impact every muscle in your body. Doing the Bulgarian Split Squat will help you build muscles in your whole body. Not only that but free testosterone levels are also linked to a longer lifespan.

Advertising

And women: don’t worry. Your body is of course emitting less testosterone than the body of males. You will not get huge arms, you will get the curves you’re craving for!

You Get a Toned Midsection

The legs are being worked out hard in this exercise. This not only leads to muscle growth, but will also help tone your midsection. Your body needs a lot of calories to power a big muscle group such as the legs. Doing the Bulgarian Split Squat on a continuous basis will help you lose weight.

The Bulgarian Split Squat also tones your midsection by training your core muscles. It’s a difficult exercise. Your core plays a huge part in balancing your body, which becomes especially hard when added weight is involved. Which means that this leg exercise is also a great exercise for your core. You’ve heard right!

    You Prevent Aging

    Because you’re doing the Bulgarian Split Squat on one leg only, it’s a challenging exercise for your central nervous system. It forces your brain to balance your body weight plus extra weight maybe when doing the exercise. This is stressful but also quite important.

    Most activities that we do on a daily basis are unilateral and require a lot of balancing work. Use it or lose it. By incorporating exercises such as the Bulgarian Split Squat in your training, you’re making sure that you’re activating your central nervous system properly.

    Advertising

    To Do or Not to Do the Bulgarian Split Squat

    The one million dollar question with an easy answer: it depends.

    Like so many things in life, it simply depends on your current circumstances. Is the Bulgarian Split Squat the best exercise for a beginner? No, I seriously don’t think so. I think the Lunge or the Squat is a far easier exercise and should be the one you begin with. The Bulgarian Split Squat is challenging for a central nervous system and for your joints. This is a huge stress situation for a beginner and may lead to injuries and fatigue.

    If you gathered some experience and are training regularly, then yes, the Bulgarian Split Squat may be something to try out for you. I’m talking at least 1 year of regular weightlifting or sooner if you’re training with a certified Coach.

    The Bulgarian Split Squat is a challenging exercise. And this is definitely a good thing.

    Let me tell you how you can build your way slowly to start training with the Bulgarian Split Squat.

    Getting Started with the Bulgarian Split Squat

    1. Learn to Do a Proper Bodyweight Squat

    The Squat is the fundament of the Bulgarian Split Squat. If you don’t know how to do the squat properly, your Bulgarian Split Squat will not have the best form. You might lack ankle or hip mobility and strength. It’s better to discover this on an easier exercise.

    Advertising

    Tip: if you’re pushing your knees too far in front of your toes, you know that you lack proper form. The squat should be a ‘sit-back motion’. This article may help you with your form: Complete Beginner’s Guide To Doing Perfect Squats

    Once you’re able to do a proper bodyweight squat, increase the weight with a dumbbell until you hit a plateau and think you can’t progress any further. Then, if you feel like making a change, start progressing to the lunge.

    2. Learn to Do a Proper Lunge

    The Lunge is a slightly more difficult exercise as the Back Squat for your central nervous system. Reason being because the lunge needs more balancing work and only trains a single leg at a time. Start progressing the weight with dumbbells until you hit a plateau and think you can’t progress any further.

    If you get great results: stay with this exercise. If not: progress further.

    3. After Mastering the Previous Exercises, Learn the Bulgarian Split Squat.

    The Bulgarian Split Squat is the most difficult exercise of those three in my opinion, and therefore should be the last one that you will train on a regular basis. The Bulgarian Split Squat can force your muscles to work even harder and puts more pressure on your midsection and your torso.

    A Word Of Caution

    This unilateral exercise is a great way to challenge your central nervous system, help you build muscle and tone your midsection, but it’s not a wonder drug. It will not get you immediate results. Let me tell you a story:

    Advertising

    There was this huge hype going on about High Intensity Intervall Training (HIIT). This exercise regime promised huge fat loss with only a small time investment. Countless newspapers and articles have written about that topic. But the truth is, the exercise was developed for elite athletes, not for the general public. And no, this is not a good thing.

    Elite athletes have way different needs and wants than the general public. You cannot start the training of Arnold Schwarzenegger today and hope that you will look like him in a month. There are countless of other variables playing a part. Chances are higher that you will injure yourself.

    I’ve fallen prey to this thinking and I don’t want you to get to where I’ve been. It’s frustrating. I’ve started doing HIIT every morning for a couple of weeks and I haven’t seen the desired results. Instead I’ve felt more stressed out and wasn’t losing weight. The reason was not that the HIIT doesn’t work. But that I’ve seen HIIT as a wonder drug and neglected the other more important aspects, such as diet and basic exercises.

    If you look at the Biomechanics of the squat compared to the Lunge and Bulgarian Split Squat, you will realize that you’re basically training the same muscles. Some people may feel the Squat more, others truly believe in doing Lunges or the Bulgarian Split Squat.

    If you’re an experienced athlete, you can try to implement the Bulgarian Split Squat in your exercise regimen. If you truly feel a difference, keep it. If you think you get the same results doing the squat, then do the squat. There’s no quick fix.

    Featured photo credit: Tnation via t-nation.com

    More by this author

    Florian Wüest

    Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

    Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss The Truth Behind Rapid Weight Loss and the Best Way to Shed Pounds How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss? How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

    Trending in Fitness

    1 10 Quick Easy Workouts To Lose Arm Fat At Home 2 8 Core Workouts You Can Easily Do At Home 3 Weight Loss Plan And Program: Create Your Own One 4 8 Leg And Butt Workouts To Reshape Your Lower Body 5 10 Simple Morning Exercises to Make You Feel Great All Day

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

    Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

    Feeling tired all the time?

    Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

    I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

    Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

    If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

    In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

    What Happens When You’re Too Tired

    If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

    Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

    • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
    • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
    • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
    • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
    • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
    • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
    • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

    Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

    Unfortunately, yes!

    Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

    Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

    Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

    Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

    Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

    Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

    1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
    2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
    3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

    The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

    It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

    Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

    Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

    If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

    Advertising

    Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

    Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

    But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

    Symptoms of fatigue include:

    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Low stamina
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Anxiety
    • Low motivation

    These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

    Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

    How Much Sleep Is Enough?

    The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

    Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

    So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

    The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

    Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

    Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

    If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

    And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

    It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

    4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

    Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

    1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
    2. Exercising regularly
    3. Using stressbusters
    4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

    So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

    After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

    In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

    Advertising

    I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

    Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

    • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
    • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
    • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
    • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

    The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

    And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

    But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

    L — Living Healthy

    Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

    So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

    In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

    As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

    Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

    1. Unplug

    Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

    So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

    2. Unwind

    Do something to relax.

    Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

    3. Get Comfortable

    Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

    Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

    Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

    Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

    If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

    Advertising

    Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

    This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

    E — Exercise

    Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

    That’s what happened in my case.

    But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

    As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

    My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

    That made sense to me.

    So, I decided to swim.

    I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

    Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

    Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

    So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

    If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

    A — Attitude

    Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

    When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

    Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

    Breathing.

    But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

    Advertising

    Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
    2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
    3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
    4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
    5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
    6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

    This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

    When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

    Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

    N — Nutrition

    Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

    If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

    Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

    For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

    Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

    Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

    1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
    2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
    3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
    4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
    5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
    6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
    7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
    8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
    9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

    Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

    That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

    Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

    The Bottom Line

    If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

    If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

    If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

    • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
    • Regular Exercise You Love
    • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
    • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

    Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

    More Tips to Help You Rest Better

    Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
    [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
    [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
    [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
    [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
    [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
    [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
    [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

    Read Next