Two of the most effective unilateral leg movements you can do. There can be a lot of questions when Bulgarian split squats vs lunges and what’s the difference. Is one better for building strength, or is one better for building strength, hypertrophy, or for athletes & runners? Below we’ll go over the similarities and more importantly the differences. So you can decide for yourself which is best for your needs.
Bulgarian Split Squats vs Lunges
What they have in common:
- Bulgarian split squats and lunges will target your entire legs. Including glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
- Both movement can be done as bodyweight or with added weight.
- They also heavily engage your abs and lower back. Especially when using a barbell and added weight.
- Both movements are unilateral, placing the primary focus on one leg.
Both are common accessory workouts used by a wide spectrum of athletes. Bodybuilders and powerlifters will do lower reps with heavy loaded barbells to achieve size and strength gains. While runners and speed athletes will focus on higher rep bodyweight focused workouts to improve strength and muscle endurance.
What both movements have in common is that they target the entire leg unilaterally. Placing an emphasis on one leg working at a time. With the other used for stability. In doing so Bulgarian split squats and lunges effectively target your hamstrings, quads, calves, cores and feet.
Why they are different:
- Bulgarian split squats (BSS) allows for a greater range of motions. And is generally considered the harder of the two movements.
- Lunges are considered a safer more beginner friendly workout. If you’re looking to jump into one, start with lunges for a few weeks while learning proper BSS form.
- BBS requires more stability to perform, typically making it a slower more controlled workout. Placing added emphasis on the eccentric (downward) phase of the movement.
- Lunges allow you to add more weight. Because it’s a sturdier position, lifters can typically lunge more than they can BSS. This is an advantage for athletes looking to build strength and size.
- It is easier to cheat with lunges. Meaning you can use your back leg for assistance (which isn’t always a bad thing). Compared to BSS where you can’t.
- BSS allows you to change the muscle you are targeting. Meaning, use a short stride to target your quads while actively working every other muscle in legs and hips. Use a long stride to target your glutes while actively hitting your leg and hip muscles.
- BSS can put more focus on the glutes. As mentioned above, BSS allows you to use a longer stride which targets more of the glutes.
The biggest difference between Bulgarian split squats (BSS) vs lunges is your back leg placement. With your back leg raised off the ground during a Bulgarian split squat (BSS), requiring more stabilizer muscles, a deeper range of motions, and added emphasis on the eccentric movement. All of this means you can typically lift less weight doing a BSS compared to lunges. But can control your target muscles and get a better hypertrophy focused movement.
Because lunges allow you to lift more weight they are going to be great for added size and volume as an accessory exercise for specific athletes. Lunges are also very beginner friendly. And can be a better choice for people that are looking to go hard, faster. BSS can take time to learn and progress with weight.
When looking at bulgarian split squats vs lunges and their differences. There is a lot we can learn about when and how to use each movement. Bulgarian split squats are great for almost every athlete. And since they are so highly focused without requiring heavier weight. They are the perfect exercise for runners to do as a bodyweight movement. And for lifters to use as a strength building accessory exercise with a barbell.
The Lunge is a classic and one of the most effective bodyweight movements you can do to target your legs. Because of this they will always have a place for athletes looking to build massive strength endurance. And for lifters looking to add massive strength and size, the ability to add big weight to lunges makes them monsters on leg day.
So really, it’s just a matter of knowing your goals and how to use the two movements in your programming. Both are going to be winners if done correctly. Here are some link to more articles are comparable lunge workouts.
More info on lunges: