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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.

    The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds How I Lose Weight, Get to 9% Body Fat and Build Muscles with Vegan Diet The Biggest Myth About Losing Belly Fat: Can You Lose Belly Fat Only? Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

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    Last Updated on November 9, 2020

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

    Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

    Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

    If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

    Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

    1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

    Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

    Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

    Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

    2. No Motivation

    Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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    This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

    If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

    3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

    Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

    A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

    A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

    The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

    4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

    One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

    We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

    Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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    You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

    5. Upward Comparisons

    Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

    The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

    These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

    Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

    6. No Alternative

    This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

    Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

    Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

    Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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    7. Stress

    As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

    When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

    We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

    If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

    8. Sense of Failure

    People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

    Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

    Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

    If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

    9. The Need to Be All-New

    People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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    These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

    10. Force of Habit

    Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

    Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

    These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

    Final Thoughts

    These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

    There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

    More on Breaking Bad Habits

    Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
    [2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
    [3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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