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In this guide you’ll learn how to do bulgarian split squats, (aka rear foot elevated split squats, or RFESS for short), how to do lunges and how to do a bunch of variations and progressions of these exercises. I recommend learning how to do split squats from the ground first, though, before trying the more advanced variations and progressions. Each exercise variation in this guide will have helpful notes, tips and videos. Feel free to skip around using the table of contents.

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Table Of Contents

  Glute Exercise Guides

What’s The Difference Between Bulgarian Split Squats (RFESS) And Lunges?

Bulgarian split squats (RFESS) and lunges are both progressions of the standard split squat. They both require increased demand for stability and range of motion. The difference, though, is that RFESS are stationary, where lunges are not.

When you perform a RFESS, your feet won’t move, and they’ll stay planted to the ground. With lunges, though, the exercise is initiated by a “step” in any direction; Forward, back, to the side or at a diagonal. Lunges go somewhere and then come back, bulgarian split squats do not. With this in mind, sometimes split squats and RFESS are referred to as “stationary lunges”.

What Are The Benefits Of Bulgarian Split Squats (RFESS) And Lunges?

If your goal is to make your butt bigger by exercising, you’ll want to create an exercise program that is well rounded, and focused on progression.

Most exercises focus on making you stronger by increasing the number of weights, sets or reps you can do. RFESS and lunges have a foundation in other training variables.

With RFESS and lunges, before you start increasing sets, weights and reps, you have to master the stability and range of motion requirements, first.

Compared to traditional exercises with both feet flat on the ground, like squats and deadlifts, RFESS and lunges provide an important source of variation in your exercise program. Variation will help prevent injury and keep your exercise program interesting.

What Are The Cons Of Bulgarian Split Squats (RFESS) And Lunges?

Because of the stability and range of motion requirements of RFESS and lunges, they won’t work for everyone. For some, the structure of your hips can become a factor that will limit your ability to perform these exercises. Usually this isn’t the case, and most people can regress to an easier exercise for a few weeks, and then progress back to these variations. As long as you take your time, and don’t try to rush you’ll be fine. Progress to the next level when your current level feels comfortable.

If you can’t complete the range of motion comfortably after trying to include them in your exercise program over a few weeks, I recommend trying normal split squats. They still require an increase in demand for stability and range of motion compared to more conventional exercises (squats and deadlifts), but not as much as RFESS or Lunges.

This guide contains many variations of lunges and split squats, so if one variation doesn’t feel comfortable, try a different variation. I’d recommend against doing these exercise on unstable surfaces, though. The risk isn’t worth the reward, and the instability won’t create any additional tension in your glutes.

Basically, if you’re having trouble with the more advanced exercises, try doing split squats first.

How To Do Split Squats

How To Do Split Squats
  • Start in a kneeling position on the ground.
  • Squeeze the glute of your front leg tight.
  • Stand tall pressing through the heel of your front foot, and the “ball” of your back foot.
  • Return to starting position by sticking your butt out as you go down. Don’t rest on the ground, though, before your next rep.

TipsStart in a kneeling position on the ground, and stand up from there. For every exercise, how you setup guides you through the rest of the movement. If you start on the ground here, you’ll start in a more stable position and it should be more comfortable. When you get better you can start from the top.

You don’t want to be wobbly or shaky. If you do feel wobbly or shaky, working on some exercises from the ground will help you build hip strength and stability. Try learning how to do hip thrusts.

Benefits: Learning how to do the split squat first will teach you how to create tension in your glutes during the movement. You’ll also gain a sense of comfort in your knees, hips, back and ankles during this movement.

Disadvantages: Since the split squat is in a staggered stance, this exercise require strong hip stability to keep you in control through the exercise. For some beginners, this can be a challenge.

Alternate Names: stationary lunge

Common Split Squat Mistakes

The split squat is an exercise that a lot of beginners have trouble with. At first, it feels a bit unnatural, but with practice it can be a great addition to your exercise program. In my experience as a fitness trainer, I’ve seen people make two common mistakes with this exercise.

Avoid Having Your Knees Go Over Your Toes

split squat mistake forward knee

With the split squat, you’ll want to move straight up and down on an axis. Once you’re in position to start, pretend there’s a big metal pole going straight through the middle of your body, top to bottom; through your head and down to the floor. You don’t want to move off of this axis.

When you start descending to the floor, start by sticking your butt “behind you”, and go down from there. This will help you favor your hips instead of your knees, and keep you on an “up and down” axis, instead of moving “forward and back”.

If your knees bend first while you’re on your way down, you’re more likely to move “forward and back” instead of “up and down”.

Avoid Using Momentum And Favoring Your Back Foot

split squat mistake momentum

The second most common mistake I see with split squat is turning it into a “hopping” momentum type of movement.

This means you’re not creating tension in your glutes from the bottom of the exercise. It also suggests you’re favoring your back leg more than your front leg.

How To Fix These Split Squat Mistakes

It’s best to address these mistakes as soon as possible. Fixing these errors will help you create more tension in your glutes immediately. This will make the split squat a much more effective tool to help you get a bigger butt.

After you’re able to perform the split squat comfortably from the ground with good form, you’re ready to move on to the RFESS. Remember, good form isn’t just about how it looks, but also how it feels.

You should primarily feel your glutes during this exercise, as well as your quads. You shouldn’t be shaky or wobbly before moving on to the next step.

Use A Bench To Adjust Your Position

Split Squat Bench Form Fix

The easiest way to fix this is to push the shin of your front leg up against a bench with your foot underneath. The bench will prevent you from moving forward, and force you to do the exercise properly.

Try Split Squats From An Elevated Position

elevated split squats technique

If you’re still having trouble, try stacking up a yoga block or two and start kneeling on those. Most people won’t need to regress this far, but if you do there’s nothing wrong with that. Remember, good form is all about feeling the right muscles. If the exercise feels right, it’ll also look right. Here’s a video of the split squat from an elevated position.

Use The “Half Kneeling Stretch” To Improve Your Body Awareness

half kneeling stretch

This stretch will start off in a kneeling position, and you’ll move back and forth using just your hips. Pretend you’re dancing and only your hips are moving. Here, you’ll keep even pressure through your feet the whole time. Again, only your hips will move in the half kneeling stretch. Not your knees or feet.

If you’re having trouble, try doing this with the bench in front of you like in the last video in this section. This way, if you’re moving your legs too much instead of your hips, you’ll crash into the bench, which will force you into the right position.

When you shift your hips forward, you should feel the stretch in the groin of your back leg, as well as down the rest of your back leg.

When you shift your hips back, you should feel the tension shift to the glutes and hamstrings of your front leg.

The goal of this stretch is to help you better feel the muscles in a staggered position. Good form is all about feeling the right muscles in the right places.

Try These Other Stretches

If you’re still having trouble, you can try these other stretches to help improve your mobility and sense of body awareness. Remember, you don’t “need” to do this exercise to make your butt bigger. If you’re having trouble with this exercise for a few weeks, there are plenty of other exercises you can try that won’t require as much hip stability.

Yoga Lunges

How To Do Yoga Lunges
  • Start by placing one foot forward, and one foot back.
  • Make sure your back foot is as far as you can get it, and keep your back heel elevated.
  • Push your front knee forward, but not to far. This way it doesn’t go over your toes.
  • Reach your hands to the sky, stick your chest out, lean back and breathe deep.

Tips: You should feel a stretch in your groin when you bring your hands up. If the stretch feels extreme, breathe more shallow at first. When you get more comfortable in this position you can practice breathing deeper.

Benefits: Spending more time stretching in a split stance will help you become more comfortable exercising in a split stance.

Alternate Names: crescent lunge, yoga high lunge, yoga low lunge

Spider Lunges

How To Do Spider Lunges
  • Start on your hands and toes in pushup position.
  • Slowly step forward with one foot, placing it just outside your hand.
  • Stay here for a second, and press your hips forward, and down towards the floor.
  • Return your foot to starting position, and then try the other side.

Tips: The slower you go, the better. You can also pause for a few seconds after you push your hips forward and down towards the floor.

Benefits: Spider lunges will help you build your mobility. If you’re having trouble getting low enough in various split squat or lunge variations, and your issue isn’t structural, this stretch should help.

Disadvantages: If you have existing hip issues, such as a labral tear, these probably won’t feel too comfortable. With any exercise, if they hurt while you’re doing them, you should stop and do something else.

Alternate Names: spiderman lunge, mobility spider lunge, spider lunge stretch

Split Squat Variations And Progressions

After you’ve gotten the hang of the split squat, there are other variations you can try before you move to bulgarian split squats (RFESS) and lunges. If you’re having mobility problems with RFESS and lunges, these exercises can also serve as a great alternative.

TRX Split Squats

How To Do TRX Split Squats
  • Start by grabbing your TRX, and lean back slightly. The TRX should be pulled taught and have no slack.
  • Place one foot back, and make sure the “ball” of your back foot is connected with the floor. Not your back heel.
  • Lower yourself toward the floor, while leaning back slightly. This way the TRX stays taught.
  • Return to starting position, and press mostly through the heel of your front leg.

Tips: Make sure the TRX is always pulled taught. If it loosens even a little bit, the entire purpose of using the TRX has been defeated. TRX is supposed to help make split squats easier if you have problems doing them normally.

Benefits: This is a great exercise to help you practice getting low enough in regular split squats, if you’re having trouble with them. This is also a great exercise for seniors who are new to exercise, or people with balance issues.

Disadvantages: Because you’re using your upper body to help, this exercise will not be as beneficial for your butt and legs. TRX split squats are intended to be a “stepping stone” towards unassisted split squats.

Alternate Names: Assisted split squats, suspended split squats, trx stationary lunge

Goblet Split Squats

How To Do Goblet Split Squats
  • Start by grabbing a dumbbell, and holding it up by your collar bone. Keep your chest up and your shoulders down.
  • Place one foot back, and make sure the “ball” of your back foot is connected with the floor. Not your back heel.
  • Lower yourself to the floor until your back leg’s knee touches the ground, but don’t rest on the ground.
  • Return to starting position slowly, squeezing your glutes as you stand tall.

Tips: If your knee hurts from touching the floor while doing goblet split squats, or any other split squat variation, you’re probably going too fast and “slamming” your knee into the ground. Go slower with more control. This will help you make your butt bigger, because you’ll create more tension in your glutes.

Benefits: With this exercise, a dumbbell is fairly easy to hold and doesn’t require much grip strength.

Disadvantages: Heavier dumbbells can become difficult to get into starting position. When this happens, you should try another weighted split squat variation.

Alternate Names: weighted split squat, dumbbell split squat, goblet stationary lunge

Barbell Split Squats

How To Do Barbell Split Squats
  • Grab a barbell, and place it on the tops of your shoulders. Pull it down into your traps and stick your chest out to secure it in place.
  • Place one foot back, and make sure the “ball” of your back foot is connected with the floor. Not your back heel.
  • Lower yourself to the floor until your back leg’s knee touches the ground, but don’t rest on the ground.
  • Return to starting position slowly, squeezing your glutes as you stand tall.

Tips: Shown in this video, is a “pre weighted” straight bar. At heavier weights, they’re impossible to hoist over your head to get into position. They’re great, though, if you can’t lift an unweighted barbell from a squat rack yet. Once you can lift a 40lb straight bar, switch to a barbell in a squat rack.

Benefits: Compared to dumbbells, you can move a LOT more weight with a barbell, than using dumbbells. Barbells require much less grip strength.

Disadvantages: Barbells can be uncomfortable on your shoulders at first. Once you get used to them, though, they are a great option for weighted split squat variations.

Alternate Names: barbell stationary lunge, weighted split squat

Suitcase Split Squats

How To Do Suitcase Split Squats
  • Grab two dumbbells, and hold them tight at your sides. Keep your chest out and shoulders down, so your arms don’t “wobble” during the exercise.  
  • Place one foot back, and make sure the “ball” of your back foot is connected with the floor. Not your back heel.
  • Lower yourself to the floor until your back leg’s knee touches the ground, but don’t rest on the ground.
  • Return to starting position slowly, squeezing your glutes as you stand tall.

Tips: Getting a good, firm grip on the dumbbells here will help stabilize the dumbbells. You don’t want the dumbbells wobbling around, because they can throw you off balance.

Benefits: You can use more weight by holding two dumbbells in the suitcase position, as opposed to the goblet position.

Disadvantages: Eventually, your grip will become the limiting factor with this exercise, and slow your butt and leg development. When this happens, either get wrist wraps or use a barbell for split squats instead.

Alternate Names: suitcase stationary lunge, weighted suitcase split squat

Smith Machine Split Squats

Smith Machine Split Squats
  • Set the smith machine up with your desired weight, and rest the bar on your shoulders.  
  • Place one foot back, and make sure the “ball” of your back foot is connected with the floor. Not your back heel. Your front foot should be in front of the bar, so your hips are directly under the bar.
  • Lower yourself to the floor until your back leg’s knee touches the ground, but don’t rest on the ground.
  • Return to starting position slowly, squeezing your glutes as you stand tall.

Tips: This can be an awkward motion, because the smith machine puts you on a “fixed” track. For some, though, this can actually be an advantage because you don’t need to focus as much on keeping your balance.

Benefits: The setup is extremely easy for this exercise. Also, if you don’t have a spotter, it’s easy to rack the weights if you get stuck coming back up.

Disadvantages: Some smith machines have a track that runs at an angle, as opposed to straight up and down. In some cases, this can cause you to lean forward slightly as you go down. Make sure you spend some time finding a comfortable foot position, before you start progressing your weights.

Alternate Names: machine split squat, smith split squats, sm split squat

Jumping Split Squats

How To Do Jumping Split Squats
  • Start in a kneeling position, just like the bottom of a split squat.
  • Squeeze your glutes, and explode upward through the heel of your front foot, and the ball of your back foot.
  • Cushion your land, and slowly return to your starting position.
  • Completely relax, and re-squeeze your glutes before your next rep.

Tips: Try not to swing your arms as a source of momentum to help you jump higher.

Benefits: Adding explosive, plyometric exercises to your workout routine will help you add different stimulus to your glute muscles. This will help make your program more well rounded, and help you get a bigger butt.

Disadvantages: This is a fairly advanced exercise. If you don’t feel stable while doing this exercise, try doing other regressed plyometric exercises like box jumps or squat jumps.

Alternate Names: power split squat, plyo split squat, plyometric split squat

How To Do Bulgarian Split Squats (RFESS)

How To Do Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Start by getting a bench, and placing your back foot’s laces down on the surface of the bench.
  • Keeping the weight on the heel of your front leg, slowly descend towards the ground, and stick your butt out on the way down.
  • Get as low as you can get, and then come back up, squeezing your glutes the whole way.

Tips: If you’re pressing through your toes instead of the heel of your front leg, step forward a little bit. If your front leg’s knee is going forward over your toes, also step forward a little bit. You should feel this exercise in your glutes.

Benefits: Compared to normal split squats, RFESS require much more range of motion to complete the exercise. This adds an important source of variation to your training program, and will make your workout routine more well rounded. The RFESS also doubles as a nice hip stretch.

Disadvantages: This exercise requires a lot of mobility to be able to execute properly. For some, this requirement might be too much, and this exercise could potentially cause some pain or discomfort.

If you feel any pain during or after this exercise, there’s nothing wrong with regressing to split squat variations instead.

Alternate Names: RFESS, rear foot elevated split squat, romanian lunges, stationary romanian lunge, deep split squat

Bulgarian Split Squat (RFESS) Variations And Progressions

After you’ve gotten the hang of the bulgarian split squat (RFESS), there are other variations you can try to make them more challenging. The most common way to progress RFESS is to add weight. If you’re having mobility problems with the RFESS , there’s nothing wrong with going back to split squat variations (without your rear foot elevated). Alternatively, you can try some lunge variations and use them instead.

Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat

How To Do Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Start by grabbing a dumbbell, and holding it up by your collar bone. Keep your chest up and your shoulders down.
  • Place your back foot’s laces down on the surface of a bench.
  • Keeping the weight on the heel of your front leg, slowly descend towards the ground, and stick your butt out on the way down.
  • Get as low as you can get, and then come back up, squeezing your glutes the whole way.

Tips: If your knee hurts while doing goblet bulgarian split squats, or any other bulgarian split squat variation, you’re probably going too far forward with your knee. Go slower, and focus on “sitting back” into the exercise. This will help you make your butt bigger, because you’ll create more tension in your glutes.

Benefits: With this exercise, a dumbbell is fairly easy to hold and doesn’t require much grip strength.

Disadvantages: Heavier dumbbells can become difficult to get into starting position. When this happens, you should try another weighted bulgarian split squat variation.

Alternate Names: weighted bulgarian split squat, dumbbell bulgarian split squat

Barbell Bulgarian Split Squat

How To Do Barbell Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Grab a barbell, and place it on the tops of your shoulders. Pull it down into your traps and stick your chest out to secure it in place.
  • Place your back foot’s laces down on the surface of a bench.
  • Keeping the weight on the heel of your front leg, slowly descend towards the ground, and stick your butt out on the way down.
  • Get as low as you can get, and then come back up, squeezing your glutes the whole way.

Tips: Shown in this video, is a “pre weighted” straight bar. At heavier weights, they’re impossible to hoist over your head to get into position. They’re great, though, if you can’t lift an unweighted barbell from a squat rack yet. Once you can lift a 40lb straight bar, switch to a barbell in a squat rack.

Benefits: Compared to dumbbells, you can move a LOT more weight with a barbell, than using dumbbells. Barbells require much less grip strength.

Disadvantages: Barbells can be uncomfortable on your shoulders at first. Once you get used to them, though, they are a great option for weighted split squat variations.

Alternate Names: weighted bulgarian split squat

Suitcase Bulgarian Split Squat

How To Do Suitcase Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Grab two dumbbells, and hold them tight at your sides. Keep your chest out and shoulders down, so your arms don’t “wobble” during the exercise.
  • Place your back foot’s laces down on the surface of a bench.
  • Keeping the weight on the heel of your front leg, slowly descend towards the ground, and stick your butt out on the way down.
  • Get as low as you can get, and then come back up, squeezing your glutes the whole way.

Tips: Getting a good, firm grip on the dumbbells here will help stabilize the dumbbells. You don’t want the dumbbells wobbling around, because they can throw you off balance.

Benefits: You can use more weight by holding two dumbbells in the suitcase position, as opposed to the goblet position.

Disadvantages: Eventually, your grip will become the limiting factor with this exercise, and slow your butt and leg development. When this happens, either get wrist wraps or use a barbell for split squats instead.

Alternate Names: weighted suitcase bulgarian split squat

Smith Machine Bulgarian Split Squat

How To Do Smith Machine Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Set the smith machine up with your desired weight, and rest the bar on your shoulders.  
  • Place your back foot’s laces down on the surface of a bench.
  • Keeping the weight on the heel of your front leg, slowly descend towards the ground, and stick your butt out on the way down.
  • Get as low as you can get, and then come back up, squeezing your glutes the whole way.

Tips: This can be an awkward motion, because the smith machine puts you on a “fixed” track. For some, though, this can actually be an advantage because you don’t need to focus as much on keeping your balance.

Benefits: The setup is extremely easy for this exercise. Also, if you don’t have a spotter, it’s easy to rack the weights if you get stuck coming back up.

Disadvantages: Some smith machines have a track that runs at an angle, as opposed to straight up and down. In some cases, this can cause you to lean forward slightly as you go down. The video above actually demonstrates this happening. Make sure you spend some time finding a comfortable foot position, before you start progressing your weights.

Alternate Names: machine bulgarian split squat, smith bulgarian split squats, sm bulgarian split squats

Jumping Bulgarian Split Squat

How To Do Jumping Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Start by getting a bench, and placing your back foot’s laces down on the surface of the bench.
  • Perform a bulgarian split squat, and on the way up, Squeeze your glutes and explode upward through the heel of your front foot.
  • Cushion your land, and slowly return to your starting position.
  • Completely relax, and re-squeeze your glutes before your next rep.

Tips: Make sure the bench you’re using is either bolted to the ground, or secured against something stable like a wall. At the end of the video above, you can see the bench slide a little bit.

Benefits: Adding explosive, plyometric exercises to your workout routine will help you add different stimulus to your glute muscles. This will help make your program more well rounded, and help you get a bigger butt.

Disadvantages: This is a fairly advanced exercise. If you don’t feel stable while doing this exercise, try doing other regressed plyometric exercises like box jumps squat jumps, or jumping split squats without your rear foot elevated.

Alternate Names: power bulgarian split squat, plyo bulgarian split squat, plyometric bulgarian split squat

How To Do Lunges

For beginners, I recommend starting with back lunges (reverse lunges) first, before trying any of the other lunge variations in this guide. They’re a great way to transition from stationary lunges (split squats). They also favor your glutes more than your knees, making them easier to learn.

Each lunge variation can be done with one leg at a time, or alternating. This comes down to preference, and won’t make a difference in the long-run.

Back Lunges

How To Do Back Lunges
  • Start standing tall with your hands in front of you by your chest.
  • Step backwards and lower your level until you’re in a kneeling position.
  • Squeeze the glute of your front leg, and return to starting position.

Tips: Make sure as you’re stepping backwards, you’re lowering your level at the same time.

Benefits: Learning how to do back lunges first, before other lunge variations, is a great way to get comfortable lunging. Back lunges are easier to learn than other variations because they favor your hips more than your knees.

Disadvantages: If you have coordination or balance, these might be troublesome for you at first. I recommend getting really good at these before moving to other lunge variations.

Alternate Names: reverse lunge

Lunge Variations And Progressions

After you’ve gotten then hang of the bodyweight back lunge, there are other lunge variations you can try for a different challenge. Take a look at the bodyweight lunges, weighted lunges and lunge matrix and combinations below. Alternatively, if you’re having trouble with regular lunges, you can try some of these assisted lunge variations.

Assisted Lunges

If you need more assistance while you’re getting used to doing lunges, these assisted lunges can be a great option for you. All you’ll need is a TRX or some other type of suspension trainer.

TRX Back Lunges

How To Do TRX Back Lunges
  • Start by grabbing your TRX, and lean back slightly. The TRX should be pulled taught and have no slack.
  • Step backwards and lower your level until you’re in a kneeling position.
  • Squeeze the glute of your front leg, and return to starting position.

Tips: The further you lean forward in your starting position, the easier it will be to get your back leg lower and further back.

Benefits: If you have balance issues, holding the trx will help you support yourself while you’re lunging.

Disadvantages: Since you can’t hold weights while you do TRX back lunges, you can’t really progress this exercise like the other lunge variations. That’s fine, though, because the goal of this exercise is to build your stability and range of motion.

Alternate Names: TRX reverse lunge, TRX assisted lunge, assisted lunge

TRX Side lunges

How To Do TRX Side Lunges
  • Start by grabbing your TRX, and lean back slightly. The TRX should be pulled taught and have no slack.
  • Step to the side and lower your level until your butt is the same level as your thighs (making your thighs parallel to the ground), or lower.
  • Squeeze the glute of your stepping leg, and return to starting position.

Tips: As you begin lowering your level, focus on sticking your butt out at the same time. This will help make sure you favor your glutes instead of your knees.

Benefits: With lunges, people typically work on going forwards or backwards. Going to the side is a great way to work the other muscle actions that your glutes help with, not just extending your hips. If you’re having trouble with unassisted side lunges, this exercise will help.

Disadvantages: Since you can’t hold weights while you do TRX side lunges, you can’t really progress this exercise like the other lunge variations. That’s fine, though, because the goal of this exercise is to build your stability and range of motion.

Alternate Names: assisted side lunge

TRX Curtsy Lunges

How To Do TRX Curtsy Lunges
  • Start by grabbing your TRX, and lean back slightly. The TRX should be pulled taught and have no slack.
  • Step to the side, behind your forward leg, and lower your level until you’re in a kneeling position.
  • Squeeze the glute of your forward leg, and return to starting position.

Tips: The further you step to the side, the more you’ll feel a “stretch” sensation in the side of your glutes. Since this exercise focuses on hitting the side part of your butt, you should try to step “out” more.

Note: In this video, the guy demonstrating the TRX curtsy lunge steps further back, as opposed to the side. You can focus on stepping further to the side. If your hips bother you by more to the side, then focus more on going back like the model in the video.

Benefits: Using the TRX for curtsy lunges is a great way to build hip mobility. You can get all the way to the ground, and then use your arms to help you get back up.

Disadvantages: Since you can’t hold weights while you do TRX curtsy lunges, you can’t really progress this exercise like the other lunge variations. That’s fine, though, because this exercise is more about building mobility.

Alternate Names: assisted curtsy lunge

Bodyweight Lunges

Split squats are stationary, and lunges “go somewhere” and “come back”. Knowing this, there are many different directions and ways to lunge. Try a few of these and see which ones you like the best.

Front Lunges

Side Lunges

Diagonal Lunges

Curtsy Lunges

Lunge Pulses

Airborne Lunge

Skater Lunges

Jumping Lunges

Weighted Lunges

Once you’ve found the bodyweight lunges you like doing, the next step is to add weight to them to continue getting stronger. Like split squats, and RFESS, you add weight generally the same way. The videos below demonstrate different ways to hold weight during a traditional back lunge, but you can use these weights with any lunge variation. 

Goblet Lunges

How To Do Goblet Lunges
  • Start by grabbing a dumbbell, and holding it up by your collar bone. Keep your chest up and your shoulders down.
  • Perform your preferred lunge variation.
  • You can add weight to any lunge variation that doesn’t require you to hold something (other than weight) with your hands.
  • In this video, back lunges are being demonstrated while holding a dumbbell.

Tips: While holding the dumbbell, pretend you’re squeezing your elbows together while you’re holding the dumbbell up by your collar bone. This will help you keep your back muscles tight to brace the dumbbell and give you more support.

Benefits: Dumbbells are fairly easy to hold and don’t require much grip strength. This variation of the lunge is a great way to start progressing and adding more volume to your training program.

Disadvantages: As the dumbbells get heavier, it’s difficult to hoist them up into position by your collar bone. When this happens, try some of the other ways to hold weight while doing lunges.

Alternate Names: weighted lunge, dumbbell lunge

Barbell Lunges

How To Do Barbell Lunges
  • Grab a barbell, and place it on the tops of your shoulders. Pull it down into your traps and stick your chest out to secure it in place.
  • Perform your preferred lunge variation.
  • You can add weight to any lunge variation that doesn’t require you to hold something (other than weight) with your hands.
  • In this video, back lunges are being demonstrated while holding a barbell.

Tips: Shown in this video, is a “pre weighted” straight bar. At heavier weights, they’re impossible to hoist over your head to get into position. They’re great, though, if you can’t lift an unweighted barbell from a squat rack yet. Once you can lift a 40lb straight bar, switch to a barbell in a squat rack.

Benefits: Compared to dumbbells, you can move a LOT more weight with a barbell, than using dumbbells. Barbells require much less grip strength.

Disadvantages: Barbells can be uncomfortable on your shoulders at first. Once you get used to them, though, they are a great option for weighted split squat variations.

Alternate Names: weighted lunge, back loaded lunge

Suitcase Lunges

How To Do Suitcase Lunges
  • Grab two dumbbells, and hold them tight at your sides. Keep your chest out and shoulders down, so your arms don’t “wobble” during the exercise.
  • Perform your preferred lunge variation.
  • You can add weight to any lunge variation that doesn’t require you to hold something (other than weight) with your hands.
  • In this video, back lunges are being demonstrated while holding two dumbbells at your side.

Tips: Grab two dumbbells, and hold them tight at your sides. Keep your chest out and shoulders down, so your arms don’t “wobble” during the exercise.

Benefits: You can use more weight by holding two dumbbells in the suitcase position, as opposed to the goblet position. It’s much easier to get these into starting position as well, since you don’t need to lift the dumbbells up to your shoulders.

Disadvantages: Eventually, your grip will become the limiting factor with this exercise, and slow your butt and leg development. When this happens, either get wrist wraps or use a barbell for split squats instead.

Alternate Names: weighted lunge, dumbbell lunge

Smith Machine Lunges

How To Do Smith Machine Lunges
  • Set the smith machine up with your desired weight, and rest the bar on your shoulders.
  • Perform your preferred lunge variation.
  • You can add weight to any lunge variation that doesn’t require you to hold something (other than weight) with your hands.
  • In this video, back lunges are being demonstrated while holding two dumbbells at your side.

Tips: This can be an awkward motion, because the smith machine puts you on a “fixed” track. For some, though, this can actually be an advantage because you don’t need to focus as much on keeping your balance.

Benefits: The setup is extremely easy for the smith machine lunge. If you don’t have a spotter, it’s easy to put the weights back if you get stuck coming back up.

Disadvantages: Some smith machines have a track that runs at an angle, as opposed to straight up and down. In some cases, this can cause you to lean forward slightly as you go down. Make sure you spend some time finding a comfortable foot position, before you start progressing your weights.

Another disadvantage is you can’t do side lunges in a smith machine. Depending on the machine, curtsy lunges and diagonal lunges can also be difficult. It’s best just to stick with forward or back smith machine lunges.

Alternate Names: machine lunge, smith lunge, sm lunge

Lunge Matrix And Combinations

Another way to progress your lunge variations together is to try lunge matrices and combinations. The idea is to take a few variations, and do them together. You can combine them any way you want, but to give you some ideas here are some popular lunge matrices.

Walking Lunges

Swing Lunges

Side Lunge To Cursty Lunge

3 Way Lunge

Clock Lunges

Lunge Kicks

Lunge Step Up

Which Is Better? Bulgarian Split Squats VS Lunges?

If your goal is to build a bigger butt, then you really don’t need to choose between these two exercises. You can choose as many exercises in this guide as you want, and add them to your exercise program. When selecting variations, though, you should ask yourself the following questions.

Will This Exercise Help Me Get To My Goals?

Every exercise in your program should be selected because it will help you get to your goals. The exercises in this guide will help you make your butt and legs look better. So if that is one of your goals, any of the exercises here can be of some use to you.

What Is The Risk Vs Reward?

In a split second, an injury can cost you months of consistent gym progress. Every exercise in your program should have minimal risk for injury. In this guide, for example, every exercise requires you to be comfortable in an unstable position. If you constantly feel wobbly, either use a split squat variation that’s more simple, do butt exercises that are in a more stable position. As an online personal trainer, my number one goal is to make sure you don’t get injured while working towards your fitness goals.

How Can I Progress This Exercise?

If you’ve read my ebook “How To Get A Bigger Butt With Exercise”, you’ll know that you need to plan your exercises for progression. Put simply, you’ll want to make sure exercises become more challenging as you become stronger. The easiest way to do this is by increasing the amount of weight, reps and sets you use. Here’s the link to download my ebook.

Which Variation Would You Recommend?

Of all of the variations in this guide, I’d have to say I’m torn between the bulgarian split squats (RFESS), and back lunges while holding dumbbells at your sides. The set up for these exercises is minimal (even less for back lunges) compared to barbell variations, and you can still add a significant amount of load before your grip becomes a limiting factor. Both exercises have a high demand for range of motion and stability, making them excellent exercises to add to your “booty building” routine. After reading this, you should know how to do split squats, how to do bulgarian split squats (RFESS), how to do lunges and several variations of these exercises. If you have any questions or need a form check, join my free facebook group and post your questions there.

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