Bulgarian split squat vs barbell squats: Should You Replace Barbell Squats with Bulgarian Split Squats?

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Written By Samarjit Sinha

Working out for 10 years | Has a home gym | CPD (UK) Certificate holder in Fitness

Should You Replace Barbell Squats with Bulgarian Split Squats for your home gym workouts? – Bulgarian split squat vs Barbell squats for home usage?

Doing heavy squats in a home gym is tricky! 🏋️

So do split squats win in this battle of Bulgarian split squats vs barbell squats?

Well, in one line – If you do not have a squat rack then you should do moderate weight high rep front or back squats.

And a lot of Bulgarian split squats – you do not need a rack for this.

Just heavy dumbbells and rubber gym mats to drop the Dbs are good enough.

What are barbell squats?

Barbell squats are an effective exercise for building strength and power due to the ability to recruit larger muscle groups.

Additionally, they can help improve stability, making them suitable for more advanced lifters.

[BB Squat vs Goblet Squat]

BB squat muscles worked

barbell squat muscles worked

What are Bulgarian split squats?

This exercise that’s not only a mouthful to say but is also a thighful to do.

Basically, it’s a type of lunge variation where one foot is elevated behind you, usually on a bench or step.

This position challenges your balance and stability while also putting a bit more emphasis on your front leg.

It’s like giving your back leg a little break while still making sure your front leg does all the heavy lifting.

And let’s be real, who doesn’t love a good leg day workout that doubles as a balance challenge? ⚖️

So give those Bulgarian split squats a try, and feel the burn in all the right places!

Bulgarian squat muscles worked

Bulgarian squat muscles worked

Who Should Do the Bulgarian Split Squat?

Athletes who need to spend a good amount of time on one leg, such as those participating in sports that require agility and balance, should consider incorporating Bulgarian split squats into their training routine.

This exercise is great for improving balance, core strength, and agility while also reducing the risk of falls or injuries.

What are the main differences between barbell squats and Bulgarian split squats?

Muscles worked in squats

Comparing the Benefits: Barbell Squats vs Bulgarian Split Squats: Exercise Technique

Barbell squats are a great exercise for developing strength and power in the legs, as well as providing a full-body workout.

Doing squat correctly tips
Source: kizfitnessandhealth

They also work all major muscle groups, such as quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

Bulgarian split squats add emphasis on single-leg exercises that target the quads and glutes.

Bulgarian split squat biomechanics
Source: simplifaster.com

Both exercises can be adapted to progress from beginner to advanced levels depending on skill level.

However, barbell squats may be easier to overload with weight than dumbbells due to their size and design while Bulgarian split squats may provide more balance challenges due to their nature of being single-leg movements making them better suited for improving balance control over time.

✅ However as per this 2019 study, experienced lifters are efficient in doing barbell back squats than lower level lifters.

Comparing the Benefits: Barbell Squats vs Bulgarian Split Squats: Leg Strength

Squat workout routine

The barbell back squat is beneficial for building muscle and strength, as it is a stable exercise that allows both legs to be worked at the same time.

Additionally, it helps promote flexibility and strength.

Meanwhile, Bulgarian split squats are beneficial for their balance-promoting abilities, along with providing strength and flexibility benefits.

✅ However, this 2014 study, says that BB squats and Bulgarian splits complement each other. And you will see most of the workout routines having them.

You can do 5*3 sets of BB squats and on another day you can do 3*10 BB split squats.

Barbell Squats vs Bulgarian Split Squats: Glutes

The barbell squat is a great exercise for targeting the glutes and quads, as well as the hamstrings, gastrocnemius, and other lower body muscles.

On the other hand, Bulgarian split squats are an effective alternative that may be easier to overload with a barbell than with dumbbells.

Glute workout to do at home

Both exercises provide benefits for the glutes through their ability to target key muscles in this area.

🛑 But if you want to only focus on glute then you should focus on doing barbell glute bridges, this 2022 study confirms this.

🟰 Symmetry?

Bulgarian split squats can be used to bring up lagging body parts and provide an opportunity to engage different muscles on each side of the body in order to help balance out any imbalances.

With BB squats most often we can lean on or use one leg more than the other. Thus if you are doing it wrong, then BB squat can cause muscle imbalances.

[BB squat vs Hack squat]

Squat Depth

Squat depth is important when comparing the benefits of barbell squats and Bulgarian split squats because it allows for greater flexibility and range of motion in the squatting exercise.

The Bulgarian split squat is known to provide a deeper level of engagement than a single-leg squat, which can help improve core stability, balance, and strength.

Furthermore, due to its flexibility and range of motion, this type of squat can target different muscle groups compared to a traditional barbell squat.

Depending on your leg position, your split squat can turn into a glute-focused workout as well 😮‍💨

🦵🏼 What Should You Use for Muscle Hypertrophy

Barbell squats are a great exercise for building overall strength and muscle.

On the other hand, Bulgarian split squats emphasize quadriceps and glute hypertrophy, which can be beneficial for athletes who are lacking in hamstring development or who want to increase lower body hypertrophy.

When it comes to overall strength and muscle development, both barbell squats and Bulgarian split squats work.

Unilateral movement

Unilateral movement can provide a number of beneficial effects on an individual’s leg muscles and coordination.

Bulgarian split squat benefits

By using dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell as external loads while performing unilateral movements such as the Bulgarian split squat, one can target specific muscle groups to build strength and power.

Unilateral movement is useful for those who have sustained an injury or if someone wants to increase athleticism.

Research shows that unilateral training will help with jumps as well.

🩹 Injury Risk

Barbell back squats allow for heavier weights to be lifted, which can lead to increased muscle mass.

But with wrong from it has a higher chance of injury risk.

A Study from 2014, asks to do single-leg squats to check for injury risk screening.

Also, this study focuses on using unloaded squats to judge body mechanics deficits in young athletes.

Bulgarian split squats can prevent musculoskeletal imbalances that can lead to injuries or other problems.

Unlike barbell squats, Bulgarian split squats require less weight but still provide a significant challenge due to the stabilization of one leg throughout the entire exercise.

But you should do these both, not just only one.

If your goal is to develop your glutes then you can opt for hip thursts– they have tons of benefits and is low impact as well.

What is The Training Outcome?

Barbell squats offer a variety of variations, making them versatile and convenient for different exercises. They provide a greater range of motion is an awesome strength workout.

Use split squats to cure imbalances, increase athleticism and use the BB squats for strength and sports performance.

[BB squat benefits]

🧘🏼‍♂️ Mobility

The squat is an effective way to increase both mobility and flexibility.

Barbell squats involve loading a barbell onto the back of the shoulders and performing a deep, full-range squat.

This exercise requires strong hip mobility, balance, and core stability.

[Check Yoga for mobility!]

Bulgarian split squats require significant hip flexibility in order to properly perform it with proper form, as well as core stability for balance while on one leg.

Webmd also comments that split squats can help with flexibility and mobility.

Both exercises can help improve overall strength and mobility but each has its own unique benefits when it comes to developing mobility specifically.

Common benefits can be gained from performing either exercise.

Leg Strength

Both BBS squats and split squats will improve your strength. Back squats will increase strength since it works on more muscles than a split squat.

squat lower body workout
Source: Womenheath

Muscle Mass Development

Exercising with compound exercises, such as back squats, Bulgarian split squats, lunges, and deadlifts can be beneficial for developing muscle mass.

Research has shown that such exercises have the potential to release growth hormones during exercise and help increase neural patterning and quadricep and glute development.

Back squats are essential for nearly every athlete regardless of their sport.

Hamstring Development

Hamstring muscle can reduce lower back pain and help prevent injury to the ligaments in the knee joint.

Performing exercises that work on developing one’s hamstring muscles also has a positive effect on overall posture by increasing flexibility in the hips and glutes.

Adjusting the Bulgarian split squat might help target your hamstrings/glutes more than your back/front squats.

Balance and Symmetry

Split squat-type exercises can help to improve symmetry and reduce imbalances in the body that could lead to injury in a variety of sports.

body movement changes to focus on glutes or quads while doing bulgarian split squat

And for barbell squats, front squats can help you maintain a balance and build strength as well.

Core Strength

Having strong core muscles can be beneficial in a number of ways.

A strong core can improve posture, reduce the risk of injury, and help with balance and coordination.

Having a strong core can help to build overall strength in the lower body by providing support for other exercises such as barbell squats.

So you should do core strengthening exercises as well.

Core workout to do at home

Pro Tip: Stretch and foam roll any muscles that are tight or sore

Stretching and foam rolling are important components of any workout.

By helping to activate muscles, they can reduce the risk of injury while also allowing a person to lift heavier weights.

Foam roll for Warmup
As per this 2019 research published confirms that foam rolling is a good warm-up activity.


Can Bulgarian split squats replace barbell squats?

Bulgarian split squats can not replace BB squats.

The Bulgarian split squat offers the benefit of challenging muscles unilaterally, which can improve muscle imbalances and balance, agility, and core strength.

The barbell squat is more effective in terms of muscle engagement and progressive overload potential.

Therefore, it is important to consider both exercises in your workout routine.

.. More BB squat alternatives!

Are split squats better than barbell squats?

Bulgarian split squats are not better than regular squats.

Split squats and barbell squats are two exercises that can be used to strengthen the leg muscles.

The barbell back squat is considered an effective exercise for developing muscle growth and strength.

And split squats can help develop single-leg strength and imbalance.

Is Bulgarian split squat harder than squat?

The Bulgarian split squat is a more challenging exercise since it requires increased balance and control to maintain proper form.

The additional strength needed for stabilizing the body can work all major muscle groups in the lower body, including the core and quadriceps.

Can you build muscle with Bulgarian split squats?

The Bulgarian split squat is a great way to build muscle and strengthen the lower body. It can be used in combination with barbell back squats to help achieve hypertrophy or an increase in muscle size.

The Last Rep!

So you should include both squats in your workout routine.

For me, If I am doing heavy squats of 5×5 on Monday, I will do 3*12 of split squats on Wednesday.

By doing both I can develop strength, and size and reduce imbalances.

Author HomeGymindia.in

Working Out for 10 years | Owns a home gym |Certificate course done on Improving Aerobic Fitness, Diet | CPD (UK) Accredited Certification on Fitness

🥊 About The Skinny Author

Yo Friends, this is Samarjit! A skinny guy who is building his tiny home gym.

I have successfully gained 10 kgs in 10 months going to commercial gyms. And I have been working out on and off for about 10+ years now.

I have gone swimming, done martial arts, Olympic lifts and body building type workouts!

I cancelled the gym subscription as I was more into making my home gym for workout. And getting ready, then getting my cycle and ride to the commercial gym seemed a drag after 10 hours in the office.

Thus, I needed a home that I can access at any moment!
And I started building my home gym!

I had to research a lot to build my home gym and decided to share effective, budget friendly home gym machines, nutrition to buy as per your goals here in homegymindia.in

If you have question then contact here

Ps: Author is highly experienced with making small workout routines, understanding and guiding people to get gym equipment and set up home gym as per their Fitness goals.

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