Double Your Leg Strength One Leg at a Time

Bulgarian Split Squat: Best Exercise?

The Bulgarian split squat is one of the most popular exercises among bodybuilders. The reason why it’s so popular is because it allows you to work multiple muscle groups simultaneously while maintaining good form. You can do them with a barbell or dumbbells, but they’re definitely better if done with a weightlifting belt and a plate on your back (or even plates under your feet).

While there are many benefits to doing these exercises, I’m going to focus on two main ones here. First, they allow you to train multiple muscles in a single session.

Second, they allow you to use heavier weights than would otherwise be possible due to the fact that each muscle group is working independently. That means that if you want to build bigger quads and hamstrings, then you’ll need more weight than if you wanted smaller calves and biceps.

In addition to all this, the Bulgarian split squats are relatively easy to learn and perform. They don’t require any equipment other than a bench and some straps.

And since they involve moving both legs at once, you won’t have much trouble keeping balance during the movement. So if you’ve ever had problems with balancing while performing squats, then these might be just what you’re looking for!

How to Do Them

The first thing you’ll need is a bench. Pick a flat one that’s about knee height.

You’re going to need to put it in a power rack for safety, because you’ll be putting a lot of weight on your back. This will ensure that you don’t get squashed if you happen to lose balance while performing the exercise.

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Next you’ll need a pair of lifting straps. You can use these to attach the weights to your legs.

You’ll be looping them around the weight plates and then fastening them around your legs at your ankles. You’re going to want the loop to be tight enough that they don’t slide down, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable or cuts off your circulation. If you don’t have any lifting straps, then you can always use a jump rope or something similar.

After you’ve got your weight belt and lifting straps, set the bench at a slight angle (more diagonal than horizontal) and place it inside the power rack. You should also be inside the power rack at this point with the safety bars in place.

This will prevent you from getting “trapped” under the bar if you get pinned.

The next step is to put the weights on each side. 9 lbs should be enough to get you started, and then add onto that when you feel ready.

Once you’ve got your weight on, step into the loop of the lifting strap and make sure it’s secure around your foot.

Now comes the hard part: getting up from the floor while holding onto the bench for support. Hold the bench with one hand and then use your other hand to pull yourself up.

Once you’re up, you’ll feel your weight on your lifting leg. At this point, it’s just a matter of continuing to stand up while staying balanced. You might want to practice this part without any weights first.

Using this method should allow you to gradually work your way up to using heavier weights until you eventually get to a point where you can’t go any heavier. You might not be able to do one rep with the amount of weight that you can do 20 of, but as long as you’re able to do at least 5-10 reps with it, then you’re making progress.

It is also important that you do NOT rock back and forth while performing these. You will need to straighten your legs as much as possible in order to get the most out of them.

Do not allow your knees to bend and do not let them go past your toes. The straighter that you can keep them, the more effective the exercise will be.

You should be aiming for a rep range of 5-10, going to failure in that range. So, if you can do 10 reps with 100 pounds, then the next time you try it you should be going for 11 or more.

Double Your Leg Strength One Leg at a Time - Picture

It shouldn’t take long before you’re doing 15+ reps with 100 pounds.

Recommended Beginner’s Program

Now that you know how to do these, here’s a simple 4 day program to help you build up strength using only the bar for the first month. After that, you can move on to the powerchair specific workouts in Part 2 of this guide if you so choose.

This is just a guideline, you can always adjust it as you see fit.

Day 1:

Floor Press – 4 sets, 10, 8, 5, 5 reps

Weighted Decline Sit-ups – 4 sets, 25 reps

Day 2:

Bench Press – 4 sets, 10, 8, 5, 5 reps (start with just the bar for the first week or two)

Seated Good Mornings – 4 sets, 10 reps (start with light weight and increase as able)

Double Your Leg Strength One Leg at a Time - gym fit workout

Day 3:

Incline Press – 4 sets, 10, 8, 5, 5 reps

Hanging Leg Raises – 4 sets, 25 reps

Day 4: Rest

Day 5:

Close Grip Bench – 4 sets, 10, 8, 5, 5 reps

Barbell Shrugs – 4 sets, 10 reps (start with light weight and increase as able)

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Rest

As you get stronger you will need to increase the weight but ALWAYS make sure that your form is perfect. This is especially important with free weights as improper form will cause injury.

Powerchair Specific Workouts

Double Your Leg Strength One Leg at a Time - | Gym Fit Workout

Now that you have the strength, you can move on to powerchair specific exercises! You will notice that these are similar to the strength exercises listed in Part 1, however there are some differences.

Perform these two times a week on non-consecutive days such as Mon/Thu or Tues/Fri. You should be doing your cardiovascular training on different days since you will be doing that 3-5 times a week as part of your exercise routine.

When you can comfortably do all the workouts below, start adding another workout to your schedule on the other day.

Workout 1:

March in Place – 2×20 seconds

Glute/Ham Raises – 2xmax reps (use a smith machine for assistance if needed)

Seated Good Mornings – 5×5 reps

Lunges – 4×8 each leg

Double Your Leg Strength One Leg at a Time - GymFitWorkout

Workout 2:

Reverse Crunch – 3×12 reps (use a weight belt if needed)

Seated Calf Raise – 5×10 reps

Straight-leg Deadlift – 4×8 reps (start with a lighter weight)

Seated Row – 4×12 reps

Workout 3:

Glute/Ham Raises – 2xmax reps (use a smith machine for assistance if needed)

Seated Good Mornings – 5×5 reps

Lunges – 4×8 each leg

Double Your Leg Strength One Leg at a Time - gym fit workout

Workout 4: Rest

Wrap Up

You should be able to get in great shape now that you have a structured program to follow. Just remember, diet plays a huge role in your transformation, so don’t slack there.

If you’re looking for specific recipes to help you lose fat or gain muscle, look here:

If you have any questions about anything written here or need help putting together a diet, feel free to ask me. I’ll do my best to offer advice based on what you’ve told me.

Good luck!

Sources & references used in this article:

Treatment with oral 3, 4 diaminopyridine improves leg strength in multiple sclerosis patients: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial by CT Bever, PA Anderson, J Leslie, HS Panitch… – Neurology, 1996 – AAN Enterprises

Comparison between unilateral and bilateral plyometric training on single-and double-leg jumping performance and strength by GC Bogdanis, A Tsoukos, O Kaloheri… – … Journal of Strength …, 2019 – cdn.journals.lww.com

Age-related differences in time-limit performance and force platform-based balance measures during one-leg stance by RA Da Silva, M Bilodeau, RB Parreira… – Journal of …, 2013 – Elsevier

The relationship between leg power and physical performance in mobility‐limited older people by JFB Md, DK Kiely, S Herman… – Journal of the …, 2002 – Wiley Online Library

Single-leg cycle training is superior to double-leg cycling in improving the oxidative potential and metabolic profile of trained skeletal muscle by CR Abbiss, LG Karagounis… – Journal of Applied …, 2011 – journals.physiology.org

… use your own body weight to prevent falls? A randomized, controlled trial of balance therapy to prevent falls and fractures for elderly people who can stand on one leg … by K Sakamoto, N Endo, A Harada, T Sakada… – Journal of orthopaedic …, 2013 – Elsevier

Acute effects of a caffeine-containing supplement on bench press and leg extension strength and time to exhaustion during cycle ergometry by CR Hendrix, TJ Housh, M Mielke… – … Journal of Strength & …, 2010 – journals.lww.com

Single-leg lateral, horizontal, and vertical jump assessment: Reliability, interrelationships, and ability to predict sprint and change-of-direction performance by C Meylan, T McMaster, J Cronin… – … Journal of Strength & …, 2009 – journals.lww.com