If you’ve ever done regular Bulgarian split squats, you probably have a love-hate relationship with them – they’re effective, but notoriously tough.
BUT, add an explosive jump to the mix and you’ve got yourself an absolute killer plyometric exercise that every athlete should do…
You’ll earn back what you pay with hard work 10-fold, as this amazing exercise will bring out your weaknesses and fix them – and level-up your explosiveness!
Let’s talk about how to properly do the Bulgarian split squat jumps, why you should DEFINITELY do them, and give you some tips and tricks to really make these work for you!
How To Perform The Bulgarian Split Squat Jump
The Bulgarian split squat jump is super easy to set up – I’ll show you a neat trick that’ll put your feet in the perfect position!
I recommend doing it with a normal weight bench, box, roller, or anything stable that’s about knee-height and you can put your back foot on comfortably.
1. Set Your Feet Up Properly
Say goodbye to awkwardly shuffling your feet to try and get into a comfortable position with this hack!
Start with your back leg bent and sit on your laces on the bench.
Then stretch out your front foot as far in front of you as you can.
Wherever your heel lands is where you plant down:
It’s easy to make mini adjustments from here – even if you want to shuffle forward or backward by a couple inches, you can use the exact same method for your other leg as a starting point, making them even every set.
2. Jump As High As You Can
Crouch down and put your weight over your front foot.
Explode up, trying to get as much air as you can – but keep your back foot on the bench!
You want to try and extend through your knee, hips, and ankle as powerfully as possible – your toes should be the last thing touching the ground for max height.
This is personal preference, but you can bring your front knee up to your chest once you’re in the air – this helps you get a little more height by driving momentum upwards.
3. Land Safely
As with any plyometric, we want to land safely to avoid any extra stress on our joints.
Your toes were the last thing to touch the ground when you jumped, but should be the FIRST thing to touch the ground when you land.
Landing toe to heel will absorb the impact through your leg, lowering the stress that goes through your joints.
Trust me, landing on your heel first isn’t going to feel good…
Reps & Sets For Bulgarian Split Squat Jumps
You don’t want to fatigue your muscles like you would with regular Bulgarian split squats here (thank goodness).
This is about building power and explosiveness, meaning that you don’t want to push your muscles anywhere close to failure – in fact, that’ll lower your ability to build explosiveness!
Do more sets with less reps, really focusing on the quality of each rep and getting the most explosive power out of each one, and stopping when you’re too tired for perfect form.
Research shows that there is a bit of a range in terms of sets and reps, but it’s consistent in showing that you need a high stimulus while minimizing fatigue for best results.1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4637913/
Therefore, try 3-8 sets, doing 3-6 strong and powerful reps per set before resting 60 seconds between legs.
And just like with all plyometrics, give your body 48-72 hours to recover before the next session.
Regressions and Progressions Of The Bulgarian Split Squat Jump
The Bulgarian split squat jump is a great exercise that most of you can do without much practice, but here are a couple ways to make it easier – or harder!
Ditch The Jump
Now this technically makes it a different exercise (an explosive Bulgarian split squat?), but you can just explode up for each rep without jumping.
This way you train that explosive movement, but you don’t actually get any air with the jump – it’s a good way to progress towards the full Bulgarian split squat jump.
Still try to explode up onto your tippy toes (I’ll explain why that’s important later…).
An obvious answer, yes.
But, adding even a little weight to the Bulgarian split squat jump might humble you more than expected!
I personally like using a weight vest for this – it’s a bit more stable than using dumbbells or a barbell, and I can use my arms to balance myself every time I land, but use whatever works for you!
Start nice and light – you’re not training for strength specifically, so make sure you can still get an explosive jump in with the weight you choose.
I recommend adding 15% of your bodyweight to start off with, that way you can move up or down pretty easily depending on how it feels.
Also, keep those shoulders down – no shrugging allowed!
Benefits Of The Bulgarian Split Squat Jump
There are a bunch of strong benefits that make the Bulgarian split squat jump an ultra plyometric…
Mimics Triple Extension Movement Pattern
Triple extension refers to your hip, knees, and ankles simultaneously extending, which is a movement pattern rooted in basically all athletic movements!
This makes it extremely important for athletes to train triple extension, which the Bulgarian split squat jump does super well!
Think about how you begin bent over, completely flexed at your hip, knee, and ankle as you go down into the starting position.
Then you explode up, powerfully extending your knee and hip as your toes push you off into the air!
This specificity to triple extension makes the Bulgarian split squat jump so powerful and important – it directly improves your athletic capabilities just by mimicking one of the most important movement patterns in sports!
In fact, it’s one of the best exercises for triple extension!
That’ll also directly carry over into your vertical jumping and sprinting…
Perfect For Sprint Training
Now you see how triple extension happens in sprinting, making the Bulgarian split squat jump amazing for building your speed.
But another really great way it helps is for your block starts.
It’s almost like you’re doing a horizontal Bulgarian split squat jump during block starts, exploding off of one leg.
A powerful Bulgarian split squat jump is going to directly help you get ahead of the competition from the moment the gun fires!
Unilateral Training Is Great For Fixing Imbalances
We often don’t realize how many imbalances we have in our body – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing… we are human after-all!
But as an athlete, you need to at least try and work on those imbalances to make you more well-rounded and more resilient to injuries.
And as hard as it is to hear that you’re not perfect (sorry), Bulgarian split squat jumps can help you get there.
Doing unilateral training (or training one side at a time) is a great way to bring those imbalances to the surface – and then crush them!
You might find that your stability is off when you start with Bulgarian split squat jumps, or that you’re less explosive on one side, or have tighter muscles in your left leg – whatever it is, Bulgarian split squat jumps will put a magnifying glass over it and fry it!
By taking your dominant leg out of the exercise, your weaker side will be FORCED to grow stronger and deal with its own problems without being covered for, effectively fixing your imbalances and making you a more dominant athlete!
Ideal For Jump Training
Now we combine triple extension, specificity to jumping, and unilateral work to see how killer Bulgarian split squat jumps are for jump training.
You literally jump during the Bulgarian split squat jump, making it a great carry-over exercise while fixing any side-to-side imbalances and building explosiveness in both legs.
You’re also stimulating and challenging your body in a different way than with something like squat jumps, forcing your body to adapt and become even more powerful!
Bulgarian split squat jumps are one of my favorite ways to build explosive and powerful legs.
Not only are they effective, but they’re pretty simple to learn – you can get the hang of them after just a couple sessions!
You can also make them easier or harder, creating a nice ladder of progress for you to follow as you put in some honest work.
And remember: less is more – you don’t want to destroy your legs with a ton of volume or fatigue.
Stick to doing 3-8 sets of 3-6 perfect reps, squeezing as much power out of every single rep as you can.
The effectiveness, simplicity, and low barrier to entry make the Bulgarian split squat jump one of – if not THE – ultimate plyometric exercises!