Deload week – Bulgarian Split Squats

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So this week will be pretty much a de-load in terms of the strength sessions. This usually looks like higher volume / lower intensity work (ie. more repetitions, lower weights and more unilateral – single arm/leg work).

Yesterday we had a look at Bulgarian Split Squats as our main lower body lift. I like these for various reasons and I will usually replace Squats with these after a strength cycle. There is no way around it, if you have been working through a strength cycle and aiming at 95%+ weights towards the end of your block of training, you probably will feel a little beaten up. The Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat can be a great way to load up the legs without having the axial loading on the the spine that the Barbell Squat presents.

Another benefit of the Bulgarian Split Squat is that it is a (predominately) unilateral exercise and can expose an imbalance between left and right side. I say predominately here because the back leg will work to stabilise your position but the onus is on the lifter to concentrate on getting the front leg to do as much work as possible. When working with a barbell, it can be harder to detect these left to right side strength discrepancies. I have had a knee reconstruction about ten years ago and to this day the left leg just feels ‘different’ to the right leg in terms of muscle recruitment. Personally I work on this with more activation work and I perform a couple of extra repetitions per set on my weaker leg. I would not choose to lift different weights on each leg.

Although Bulgarian Split Squats present less axial loading, they can prompt more severe local muscular fatigue (DOMS) then Back Squats – which cause a more systemic / overall fatigue. For this reason it maybe be wise to start off with relatively lighter weights and work from there. One should be able to perform this lift with around a 1/3rd of bodyweight in each hand – IF they can perform bodyweight Back Squats and above, but in the context of a de-load week, this may not be wise.

The above article (this one) was written 6 years ago and there is not too much I would change about it. I probably coach a slight forward incline of the torso these days – to avoid lumbar hyperextension and with that focus a little more on bracing and a rigid spine but other than that, everything else still applies.


author: admin