Workout Wednesday: Why Bulgarian Split Squats Will Help You Stay Centered When You Ride March 11 2015

Why Bulgrarian split squats are a great exercise for equestrians

Why bother?

If the name of an exercise begins with ‘Romanian’ or ‘Bulgarian’, you probably assume that it’s going to be pretty badass. But in this case, a Bulgarian split squat is actually a relatively safe and simple way of getting into squats.

While traditional squats (or ‘back squats’) are a great exercise for strengthening large muscle groups throughout your body, doing them correctly can take years of practice, and you can put your back at risk if you try to lift too much, too fast. Bulgarian squats, however, have all the benefits of a squat, plus they’re much easier for beginners, and you can even do them at home.

And for equestrians, Bulgarian split squats will strengthen the large muscles in your lower body (like your glutes and quadriceps), while simultaneously improving your balance and strengthening your core, all of which will help you stay centered when you ride. And if you stick to lower (or no) weights and higher reps, you'll be able to improve your lower body strength without busting out of your jods.

How do I do it?

While you can do this exercise with weights (by holding dumbbells or plates), be sure to start unweighted to make sure that you can keep good form, and complete a set without causing pain in your knees or groin. To do a Bulgarian squat:

  1. Set up by folding a towel or placing an air pad in front of a bench (or chair or coffee table, if you’re doing this at home).
  2. Standing in front of the pad and away from the bench, rest one foot on top of the bench.
  3. Descend until your back knee touches the pad, then return to your starting position. As you do so, make sure your front knee finishes in line with your toe. If it goes beyond that point, adjust so your front foot is slightly further forward.
  4. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 15 reps.

When should I do it?

Be sure to do these after some cardio and dynamic stretching to warm up your muscles, especially your hip flexors.

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