One Perfect Move: Isometric Bulgarian Split Squat
Some of the daily kinks we experience result from muscle imbalances in the body, and Adam Rosante (a New York City-based strength and nutrition coach, author, and a Shape Brain Trust member), is a pro at showing you how to work them out of your system. (He created this surf-inspired workout, too.)
“This single move targets the upper and lower body at the same time to build strength and mobility as well as realign muscle imbalances,” he says. (Here are more dumbbell moves designed to fix common muscle imbalance issues.)
“Most people I see typically lack unilateral strength—one leg and glute are stronger than the others—and they tend to have an overdeveloped anterior torso and a weak upper back,” he says. Rosante’s move—an isometric Bulgarian split squat—sounds a little like medicine, but it’s music to your sore shoulders and aching back.
“With your rear foot elevated, this squat forces you to work legs and glutes independently; do one set of these split squats and you’ll quickly find out which side is stronger than the other.” he says. “This move also stretches your hip flexors and ankles in the bottom position, so it’s an incredible exercise that gives you a ton of bang for your buck.” (Also try: These 5 Exercises from Kim Kardashian's Trainer)
That's not all: In this version of a Bulgarian split squat, you’ll do a T raise, but with no dumbbells. “Squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you’re trying to crack a walnut between them,” says Rosante. “This will strengthen the muscles in your upper back and pull the shoulder into alignment.”
Give it a try with the cues below and with Rosante's instructions in the video above. (Too easy? Try a shrimp squat for a serious leg-strength challenge.)
Isometric Hold Bulgarian Split Squat
A. Stand about a leg's length away from a bench, step, or exercise ball, facing away. Extend the left leg backward to let the top of the foot rest on the bench. (“When you lower, you should be able to drop down into your heel and press up out of it. If you’re collapsing extremely into the toes, move the front foot forward a bit." It might take a minute to find the sweet spot.)
B. Extend arms out to the sides at shoulder height with thumbs pointing up to the ceiling. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and engage the core to pulling ribs down and avoid arching the lower back.
C. Holding this position with the upper body, slowly lower down until the back knee hovers just above the floor. Hold at the bottom for 3 seconds. Drive up to the top in one count.
Do 6 to 8 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Shape Magazine, November 2019 issue