Do The Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat
By Will Lind
Images © Will Lind / Functional Running
The benefits of single leg strength exercises for runners are obvious. You would probably know that runners only ever have one foot in contact with the ground at a time. As a result, loads apply through that lonely limb, including downward pressure, lateral shifting and rotation sent downwards from the body but also up depending on how your foot hits the ground. While posture and form improvements can diffuse and minimise those forces, simply being stronger will help brace and resist those forces too.
The Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat is a brilliant progression from the standard lunge. This movement is an intermediate to advanced technique so if you’re unstable performing standard lunges, have an injury or are currently limited in your mobility, you don’t need to progress just yet. Get your standard lunges polished first.
Some reasons why you should be doing the Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat
1. Increased strength – All runners can do with some of this, whether you’re into trail, ultra, road or track.
2. Identify strength and mobility imbalances – helpful in identifying potential injury risks, which is a big ‘yay!’
3. Improved stability through hip, knee and ankle – it’s partially the placement and grip that comes with holding weight in the ‘goblet position’ that make this movement so fantastic. Also, to some degree not having your arms free to flail about and keep you steady forces stability adaptations. Exercises on one leg require more coordination and control and imrooved stability helps with injury prevention and efficiency gains.
4. Time Efficient – Not only will the Kettlebell Bulgarian Split Squat exercise work major muscles through the leg, like the quadricep, hamstring, calf and importantly, the gluteus maximus, it will also fire up supportive, stabliser muscle groups through the foot, calf, upper leg, side glutes, the muscles wrapping your core (yes, this exercise works the core too) and even stablisers in the lower and upper back.
5. Buns of Steel – Good for cracking nuts and grinding coffee beans
6. Kettlebells – Ya just gotta love these lumps of metal.
7. Accessible – Highly accessible to all runners. You don’t even need kettlebells. Hold a dumbbell, sandbag or even a rock and use a couch, bench or ledge.
How to do it:
1. Hold the kettlebell high to the chest, hands gripping firmly to the sides of the bell and elbows squeezed underneath the kettlebell (as opposed to kicking out to the sides).
2. Although your feet are split, they should be hip width apart.
3. The front foot is the loaded foot. Check for three points of contact under that front foot – heel, inside of forefoot and outside of forefoot.
4. Press the ground down through those three points. Or, stand up through that front foot.
5. You will feel interesting forces through your torso caused by the position of the kettlebell. While standing through the front leg you also have to resist this forces through your midsection and back. Posture is key.
A. Front foot straight.
B. Crown of the skull pulled towards the roof and chin pulled in towards the body (not so tightly that you can’t breath normally).
C. Shoulders are pulled back and the kettlebell is squeezed.
D. Squeeze cheeks on both sides of butt to align pelvis and have it tuck under your spine.
E. Front knee to track in line with second toe. Watch for knees pushing inwards or outwards.
1. Bottom sticking out and spine curving as your hip engagement weakens or you lose concentration.
2. Looking down and throwing your spine out of alignment.
3. Excessive tightness causing pain through rear leg tight quads, flexors or tensor fascia latae.
4. Pain in toes. Vary between tucking your toes under your foot or with the foot in plantar flexion (with the top part of the foot flat on your bench or plyo box). Maybe use a towel for extra cushioning.
5. Not breathing. The rule of thumb is to breath out as you stand back up.