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This is both the single greatest leg exercise and the greatest single leg exercise, and I’m going to show you how to do it step by step. The Bulgarian Split Squat or rear foot elevated squat is one of the best exercises you can do period, let alone for your legs. There are so many benefits to this leg exercise beyond just its ability to build up your leg strength and size without requiring any heavy duty equipment.

The additional benefits of balance, direct axial decompression not offered by a traditional back squat, and the functional carryover to sport make this a superior choice when it comes to selecting leg exercises for your leg day workouts. That said, this is one of the most commonly misperformed exercises you can do.

The tendency to make a mistake on either the descent of the Bulgarian Split Squat or on the return to standing is common. In fact, many will make mistakes on both portions of the lift, which essentially nullifies the tremendous benefits it can have on helping you to build bigger legs. To start, you may want to try this without holding any dumbbells at all. This will enable you to feel the movement without having your form break down under load.

Start by hopping far enough away from the bench with your front foot so that when you drop straight down into the squat, your front knee is bent to 90 degrees. If you don’t get far enough away from the bench you will find that your knee tracks much further forward than the knee on that leg, which will worsen an anterior knee pain problem.

From here, you want to simultaneously hinge at the hip while bending the knee. This will set your center of gravity on a downward path to the floor and keep your knee from tracking ahead of your toes. It will also help you to groove the path of the pelvis as it sinks downward and sets up the proper return to standing that you will need to execute if you want to perform this leg exercise properly.

Once at the bottom, the rise to the top has to follow the same path as you took to get down there in the first place. This means, that the knee must stay in it’s position as you simply press your body up to the starting position. If your knee significantly tracks backwards, away from the anterior front point, you can be assured that you will likely never reach full hip extension and you will be taking stress off of the quads at the same time.

This is not something you want to do if you are trying to build bigger legs. Instead, aim to maximize the stress directed to the quads while minimizing the stress delivered to the lower back, knees and hips. Perform this properly each time you train your legs and be sure to incorporate some single leg training into your leg workouts to be as strong and athletic as you possibly can be.

To train like an athlete with me coaching your every move, head to and get the complete ATHLEAN-X Training System. See how much bigger and stronger your legs can be by training them the way they are meant to be trained, like an athlete.

For more leg exercises and leg workouts you can do at home with minimal equipment, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at

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  1. What's the best way to setup for this exercise with heavy dumbbells? I tried it today and setting up was awkward as all hell.

  2. would you recommend that a beginner start with Body-weight only. It is hard to balance during this exercise.

  3. I used to think this channel had the dumbest stuff available, and he was just trying to sell his programs. But once I noticed I was having pains in my knees and shoulders, I watched his videos. And I have to say, these are definitely the best exercises for staying safe and getting stronger. I love this channel!

  4. what would you recommend for the sets and reps to replace the squat? especially to increase strength and power.

  5. Hello Jeff, I have a question. I get pain around my knee cap after leg workouts. I have been trying your exercises and really focusing on my form. Should I continue to do legs if the exercises cause me pain? Is it ok to have some pain even when my form is good? I also have a suggestion for you, it's better when you use shorts because we can see your form better.

  6. All your videos are great Jeff, thanks so much
    They've really motivated back into weight training. I've had a strange issue with my lateral collateral ligament on my right knee only, which makes it uncomfortable to squat with a straight foot. First noticed 20 years ago but never bothers me except in squat like exercises. Never had a knee injury or surgery. I always have to turn my right foot slightly outwards while keeping my knee bending in the same direction to avoid the discomfort. Does this compromise the effectiveness of the split squat at all, or open myself to higher risk of injury?

  7. The Bulgarian squat is a fucking killer…. I tried it on a smith machine ( yeah) ON A SMITH machine due to loosing balance, now Im working on the balance !!!

  8. a lot of your exercises work very well for me and I use them in my recovery of my botched brain surgery. I really have started training with the mindset that if I cannot manipulate the muscles in my body on my own then I should not use any or very little weight.

  9. I fucking love your content. Detailed to the bits. The best, you are undoubtedly on a guru level! 💯👍

  10. I respect your opinion on this exercise. However this is my least favorite and I find it interesting but I'll stay tune for more of your videos that I like and help me.

  11. Just added this to my leg routine today… made it to the locker room before puking all over the place.
    Thanks, AthleanX!

  12. My brother in law is a former powerlifter, and will argue till doomsday against lunges. I've been doing them for about a month, and aesthetically – my glutes have really filled out, and well as my lower quads (around knees) have finally got blockier. Mechanically, lunges have every advantage under the sun. I'm suddenly feeling a lot more balanced, and spacing my feet closer together when simply standing (if that means anything.

    The guy seems patently unreasonable. Anyway, I'm going to side with Jeff and what has worked for me.

  13. Great information, Jeff! I am 62 and have been working out consistently for 42 years.  In that time with age and training, I have acquired a few injuries (slight arthritis in one knee and a bicep tendon inflammation) which have been quite aggravating and painful but I have been working through them never the less.  I have been fortunate to come across your training methods to work around these issues and find relief. Your information on proper leg squatting with leading with the hip first versus leading with the knee has relieved me from being at a 9 threshold of inflammation to a 2 after a work out recently. Your chest cable work outs are great as well. This gentlemen knows his shit! Thanks again, Jeff. Sincerely, the Breeze

  14. Great work Jeff
    How should I train with low back pain (disc bulge) should I do bodyweight squats or should I add weight ?

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