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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.

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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.

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    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.

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    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:

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    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

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    Florian Wüest

    Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

    What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively 7 Super Fast Remedies for a Pulled Muscle in Neck Is Building Muscle Possible in Your 40s? (Build Muscle the Batman Way) How I Lose Weight, Get to 9% Body Fat and Build Muscles with Vegan Diet How to Gain Muscle Mass Naturally (A Step-By-Step Guide)

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    How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

    How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

    Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

    Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

    I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

    You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

    Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

    When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

    I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

    Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

    Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

    Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

    1. The Inner Critic

    This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

    • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
    • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
    • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
    • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

    He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

    Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

    2. The Worrier

    This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

    He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

    Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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    3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

    He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

    He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

    He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

    4. The Sleep Depriver

    This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

    His motivation can be:

    • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
    • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
    • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
    • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

    How can you control these squatters?

    How to Master Your Mind

    You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

    Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

    There are two ways to control your thoughts:

    • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
    • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

    This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

    The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

    Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

    For the Inner Critic

    When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

    You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

    For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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    You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

    “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

    If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

    • He riles up the Worrier.
    • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
    • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
    • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
    • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

    Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

    Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

    For the Worrier

    Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

    Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

    You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

    • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tense

    Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

    If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

    Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

    “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

    Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

    If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

    Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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    Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

    For example:

    If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

    “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

    Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

    “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

    Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

    For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

    Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

    The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tension

    I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

    Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

    Breathe in through your nose:

    • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
    • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
    • Focus on your belly rising.

    Breathe out through your nose:

    • Feel your lungs emptying.
    • Focus on your belly falling.
    • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

    Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

    Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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    One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

    Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

    For the Sleep Depriver

    (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

    I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

    Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

    1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
    2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

    When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

    From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

    For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

    If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

    You can also use this technique any time you want to:

    • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
    • Shut down your thinking.
    • Calm your feelings.
    • Simply focus on the present moment. 

    Becoming the Master of Your Mind

    Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

    You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

    Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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