Making an already effective exercise even more challenging – this is one of the hallmarks of progressive strength training. When it comes to introducing new ways to challenge how the body moves, the sky’s the limit. Apart from varying joint angles for certain exercises, introducing specific tools can also add a whole new dimension to even the most basic of movements.
Most training aficionados are familiar with the Bulgarian split squat. Also referred to as the rear foot-elevated split squat, this squat variation not only provides a back-friendly way to train one’s legs, but can also confer a skin-splitting pump along with it. If back squats leave your lower back worse for wear and you don’t possess the requisite shoulder and wrist mobility to perform front squats, then Bulgarian split squats are the way to go.
However, the conventional Bulgarian split squat does have its drawbacks. When performed to near-exhaustion, lifters tend to allow their rear leg to contribute to the movement, reducing its effectiveness on the front leg. By replacing the bench with a resistance band, you eliminate the rear leg’s ability to “cheat” in the exercise.
Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit
Due to the band’s elastic nature, the rear leg essentially has nothing to push against, forcing the front leg to do all the work. Varying the band type allows you to scale the difficulty of the movement accordingly: thicker and heavier bands are good for beginners while more proficient lifters and use lighter bands.
The banded Bulgarian split squat can also be loaded for those who wish to do so. Chains, weighted vests, kettlebells and dumbbells can all be used to increase the amount of contractile work the legs have to do. Torso position can also be manipulated to change the focus of the movement: upright for more quad emphasis or a slight forward lean for more posterior chain work.
Don’t be surprised if your ability to crank out multiple repetitions drops when you switch over to using bands for Bulgarian split squats! The increase in instability means that your body must work harder in order to just maintain balance over the front foot. As you gain more proficiency in the movement, you’ll be able to work back to your normal level of strength and become even more badass for it!