Dumbbells in the gym

It’s all about Bulgarian split squats

We all know that old saying “practice makes perfect”, but of course it isn’t true. Who’s perfect anyway? What practice does is lead to improvement, and that’s what I’ve been working on when it comes to single leg strength and stability.

Right now I’m in the middle of another heavier program in the gym, which means heavier weights and fewer reps. Mostly it’s going well, there’s progress in many areas, and I’ve done some new PBs.

However, the attempt to do a heavier Bulgarian squat last week was a big fail and it was so frustrating that I was finally triggered to get my ***** together and seriously work on this. If I can master it with no or low weight, it should be doable also with a heavier weight, right?

So I decided to start a Bulgarian split squat challenge for the month of March – I do Bulgarian split squats every day, 3 x 8 reps on each leg, using the light bar (6 kgs) or 5 kg dumbbells. And I’m already making some progress! If you follow my new Instagram, you probably know all about it (unless you got tired of my reels already, lol).

Last week was insanely busy but today I’m joining the Weekly rundown link-up again to talk about my week of fitness activities – at the moment it’s a lot about strength training. St Patrick’s day is almost upon us and it should be spring, but it’s mostly freezing and I have absolutely no desire to spend a lot of time outside.

Here’s the summary of this week:

Monday – Gym day, chest & back + Bulgarian split squats
Tuesday – Walking + Bulgarian split squats
Wednesday – Gym day, legs & shoulders + Bulgarian split squats
Thursday – Mixed goodies at home
Friday – Gym day, chest & back + Bulgarian split squats
Saturday – Rest day, Bulgarian split squats, high step-ups
Sunday – Bulgarian split squats + high step-ups

Let’s get into it!

Monday

Last weekend we made a very quick decision to go to IKEA in Dublin on the Sunday. This means at least 6 hours travel time in total. I’m coeliac, and sadly longer travels always mean very little or no access to food, unless I plan ahead which I obviously didn’t this time. Along the road, my main options were sweets and coffee.

I had a good breakfast, a banana, and later a proper dinner with steak in a restaurant on the way out of Dublin. But overall, this was definitely NOT proper nutrition for good performance the day after.

Jävlaranamma blog

My performance was exceptionally poor for my dumbbell chest press which was my first exercise, and my trainer stepped back on the planned weights on both chest press and flyes. I still really struggled hard. Such a disappointment! Yes, these are quite heavy weights, but in my normal form I should have been able to do much better. I felt energetic coming to the gym, but my muscles didn’t want to cooperate.

The back exercises went much better. I always feel quite strong with the barbell row, and the pullovers actually felt great. The good mornings were much harder. Generally it’s not a difficult exercise if you have a strong enough core, master your hip hinge and focus on good form, but I struggle a bit with heavier good mornings – the movement works but somehow I don’t feel stable enough on my feet.

Tuesday

I’ll admit that I’ve dropped out of my daily walking challenge, I simply got upset about the constantly cold weather and decided that it was too early for an outdoors challenge. Goggins can do his thing and his mindset has inspired me a lot with my fitness work, but I grew up in Sweden being forced to go out in whatever weather (hello, winters of -20C/-4F, I don’t miss you), so now when I have a choice, freezing temps are for staying indoors and that’s it.

Now, we haven’t had anything like -20, this day offered 10-12C and it was a lovely day for walking. I had too much to do for a longer walk but did one of my common routes to the community hall and back which is about 4 km.

Wednesday

Leg and shoulder day in the gym! I was still very sore after my bench presses but otherwise felt in good form. During these strength cycles I almost dread leg days, lol! It’s excitement mixed with fear. But this was a good day.

Jävlaranamma blog

This was a deadlift PB for me with the regular bar. Yay for me!

Heavy squats are such an achievement but I always feel so insecure when backing out from the rack to get started. The actual squats are usually fine, and today I felt good. My Bulgarian squats should help with the walking backwards thing, since it’s probably a single leg stability issue.

Generally, I was very happy with this session. The lunges are going much better and the shoulder presses went surprisingly well, I usually have troubles with them. The lateral raises went ok-ish but well enough. 8 kg lateral raises are hard but I love the feeling of achievement doing them!

Thursday

Today was a mixed cocktail. I wasted the entire morning trying to figure out an error my Swedish bank has made with my tax residency, and I had to waste spend up to 2 hours on the phone for something they should have made possible to do digitally. But, while being frustrated in the phone queue, I did three sets of single leg heel raises, so at least I was productive with something!

Later I moved on to those high step-ups followed by Bulgarian squats. Today I did them in a proper training room. We’re working on transforming our whiskey room into a gym and we’re halfway there.

This was day 7 of my Bulgarian squat challenge, and lots of progress has been made. Today I could switch to my left leg almost without any problems at all. I never thought I’d see progress in just a few days. This is with almost no added weight, but progress is progress!

Later I tried single leg RDLs (without weight). It was really hard though – perhaps I should add them to my balance exercise list.

Friday

Today’s program was second try at the Monday program. But today was totally different.

Jävlaranamma blog

This session was one of the best I’ve done as I remember it. I had good energy, confidence and oomph, and totally crushed those bench presses I struggled so much with on Monday. It was a lovely feeling and it’s been a while since I felt I could push myself with confidence!

The 20 kg dumbbell pullovers were quite intimidating at first! But once I got the dumbbell in place above my chest I felt good and could do four good sets. Same with the good mornings – they’re still tough but I felt much more stable doing them. I’m quite sure that the Bulgarian squats have a role in this! Or is it just improved confidence? Who knows.

Talking of which – the Friday night Bulgarian squats were a success. I think there is hope for me to do them eventually.

Saturday

Saturdays are always quite relaxed around here, so also today. It’s still quite cold and I’m in that almost offended “I’m NOT going out until we get spring weather again!” mode. Today we had 5 degrees (41F), wind and rain and I spent the morning baking bread and cleaning up in the kitchen.

Then I moved on to Bulgarian squats and high step-ups. The bit of my tripod that fastens the camera has finally broken (it was only a matter of time) so I haven’t been able to use the camera since a few days, and my phone camera is complete rubbish. I haven’t posted these on Instagram for a few days but I have definitely not given up on my challenge! I keep doing the Bulgarian split squats every day.

Sunday

I’m quite tired today after a busy week but have done my obligatory Bulgarian squats and high step-ups, though only two sets of each to let my legs prep for leg day in the gym tomorrow – possibly. This is the charm of never knowing my program in advance – I don’t actually know if we’re doing another week of strength or going back to endurance. But whatever happens, there will be heavy leg work involved so it’s a good thing to get some rest.

A week into my Bulgarian split squat challenge

After a week doing daily Bulgarian split squats, I feel much more confident on my left leg – not great, but more stable, so much that I can even start thinking about form rather than just staying upright, and that’s a huge step forward!

You know how I mentioned on my other IG account a while ago how I dislike reels? Really the actual reels aren’t the problem but it’s about having a constantly moving feed and how stressful I think it is to the brain (having the option to switch off autoplay would fix it).

When I started this challenge, I decided to make reels anyway because it’s a good way to document the progress. In music we say that your recording tool is your best teacher, and I’ve found it very helpful to see what I do well and not in my Bulgarian squats.

In these newer recordings in our home gym, I’ve noticed I do something odd with my right leg and I’ve also noticed my knees look very wiggly. I’ll bring it up with my trainer but very likely he’s 100% aware of it and we’re probably working on all those areas already.

I’ll keep doing the work and I’m certainly enjoying the journey!

How was your week? Do you ever record yourself running or doing other training?

Thanks to Kim and Deborah for hosting the Weekly rundown link-up!

30 responses to “It’s all about Bulgarian split squats”

  1. Wendy avatar

    You are brave to take on a Bulgarian split squat challenge. I have that same issue with one of my legs–I think it has to do with hip weakness. Isn’t that why we’re doing these exercises–lol? Good for you tackling such a tough movement. I need to do more of these.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Probably more crazy than brave, lol! This is what I do when I get pissed off over something I can’t do that I think I should be able to do. What you say about hip weakness makes sense – I was guessing it would be something like that. More crab walks and sumo squats!
      I must admit I feel quite badass doing this challenge! 😀

  2. Kimberly Hatting avatar

    Congrats on your progress! I totally agree that practice makes progress (because perfection is never quite 100% attainable…or we’d possibly quit trying upon reaching it ?). Anyways, good look with your challenge…looks like it’s already working some magic 😉

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks Kim! I couldn’t agree more about perfection… striving for it can be very disappointing and will destroy the enjoyment with whatever it is we’re trying to achieve.

  3. Debbie avatar

    You are the queen of Bulgarian split squats. How cool that you’re transforming your whiskey room into a gym. I’m sure you’ll love having a dedicated space to workout.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Queen of Bulgarian split squats! I love that!
      I’m really happy with the new gym although it’s still half whiskey (still shelves on two walls, we need to buy a storage solution for the sitting room to move the whiskey) and half gym. It’s already a very inspiring space!

  4. Jenny avatar

    Great idea to really tackle the Bulgarian split squat head-on. it’s always tempting to avoid things we’re not good at- so what you’re doing is inspiring. I’m realizing that I can probably do some of them- not with heavy weights of course. I tried regular split squats but my injured foot could handle it (when it was the back foot.) But with Bulgarians, the weight will be off that foot when it’s in the back. I’m trying them tomorrow! Thanks for the motivation.
    Practice makes progress!

    1. Susanne avatar

      I’m so happy to have inspired you! I imagine there’s a lot of these exercises that can be hard with an injured ankle but you are great at pushing it and doing what you can.
      I always get triggered when it’s things I can’t do but think I SHOULD be able to do. I believe this challenge will make a huge difference! Plus it gives me a reason to focus on something good instead of being upset about the cold weather.

  5. Darlene S Cardillo avatar

    Ok… 6 hours to go shopping?

    And wow! What a challenge. I’m sure I couldn’t do one!

    And yes you are getting better. Kudos on keeping it up.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, I know, lol. So the thing is, Ireland is a very small country and we only have one real IKEA shop which is in Dublin. And everything else when it comes to furniture and the like is way too expensive. So we had to bit the bullet and go to Dublin. It’s 3 hours away and then we need to stop and charge the car halfway… so the total travel time is quite insane but it’s worth it in the end. We’re into a reorganising and big decluttering project and the difference is amazing! I feel so much better about everything when the house is in order without junk everywhere.

  6. Coco avatar

    Several Peloton instructors frequently say that the way to get better at ___ is to do ___ more — usually it’s push-ups, since so many people struggle with them. I find that I need to warm up for balance work. After a few reps, I’m much less wobbly.

    You’ll be the master of Bulgarian split squats soon!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, that’s my experience too about balance work! A few reps in and I do better. I’m so glad I decided to do this, it seems everything else that has to do with stability is going better too.
      Push-ups are really hard! I need to do more of them too, but I’ll wait until my heavy program period is over. I’ll definitely do them when we’re in Spain!

  7. Melissa avatar

    Your bulgarian squat challenge is intense! Wow – I hadn’t heard of Bulgarian squats until I read your blog I think 🙂 I love your workout room – it’s coming along!!

    1. Susanne avatar

      It IS intense! Especially when coming home after leg day! I’m obsessed with Bulgarian squats now, lol. Yes, it’s a good space in there – we need to do some more fixing up and it would be good to have some sort of rack for the bar but it’ll be great when it’s ready.

  8. Melodie avatar

    I don’t mind doing bulgarian split squats (but not every day!) now that I know how to do them correctly. I was letting my knee lean in and learned that I need to press my knee out just a bit. I had to watch myself in the mirror for a bit to be sure I was doing that. Especially my left leg, that knee always wants to lean in on everything! And single leg RDLs will test your balance for sure.

    1. Susanne avatar

      A mirror can be very helpful! I went to my husband’s gym during Christmas and did most dumbbell exercises in front of the mirror. It was very inspiring but I also noticed some odd behaviour with one of my legs when doing them. Mirrors (as well as cameras) are very good for practising form! I think it’s very common that knees lean in all places during squats and the like. Interesting how the body works and compensates for different weaknesses, isn’t it?

  9. Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au avatar

    Wow Susanne you’ve come so far in the last year or so with your fitness and strength. I remember when you were struggling with walking and now you’re an Amazon! I don’t have IG so it’s been good getting you’re full week here in one read and to see your progress – go you!

    1. Susanne avatar

      I’ve developed SO MUCH since last autumn in strength and muscle mass. It’s just amazing. And it makes me feel so much more confident, in many different areas. This is an effect I didn’t expect coming from “only” getting stronger!

  10. Deborah Brooks avatar

    Practice does make better. Nice work on the squats. I love squats too. I am looking forward to more outdoor walks as well now that the weather is better. I’ve been doing them on my tread but I always love to get out. have a great week!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, I can’t wait to get out for long walks again, the weather has been really miserable here for a long time, always cold and windy.

  11. Jenn avatar

    You are crushing the Bulgarian Split Squats! I think your form looks great, but if you feel wiggly, definitely talk to your trainer about it.

    Those brambles are so pretty.

    IKEA is a 6 hour trip? Nope! I can barely get there and it’s 20-30 minutes from me lol! I hope you found some cool things there! I do need to get a shelving unit, but I’m not up to the journey!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, 3 hours one way so 6 hours in total… that’s the charm of living in a small country where there is only one proper IKEA! We did get a lot of good stuff so it was very worth it. I think if you live too close perhaps you don’t bother going!
      Ironically, now my right leg seems a lot more wiggly than the left that always was the weakest. I only notice it on recordings though! And after a 53 kg deadlift today I feel I probably shouldn’t worry about leg strength.

  12. Marcia avatar

    I so admire you for taking on the Bulgarian Squat challenge and I’ve enjoyed watching your progress on Instagram. It is amazing how quickly the body adapts and levels up when we are consistent! Yes the wiggly knee is a manifestation of weakness in the medial (side) hips. Do you notice soreness in the hips after doing the BSS? I do some work with resistance bands to help strengthen my medial hips.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks for your encouragement! And I’m happy you’ve enjoyed my reels, I’ve started feeling my followers will die from boredom with the same content from me all the time, lol. But I’ll keep it coming, perhaps not every day though.
      That’s great to know about the wiggly knee! Very interesting how so many problems come down to weak hips! I do get sore around the hips and glutes from the BSS. I did a lot of hip strength work previously, and especially during my injury both in the gym and also during rehab, and I’ve been thinking lately I should get back to doing some of it.

  13. Lisa @ TechChick Adventures avatar

    Go you on those squats!! I have had many instructions from my physical therapist about the direction my knees are going when I do squats. That is something I have to really focus on when I do them. (and, this is a reminder to myself that I NEED TO DO THEM. haha!). I think you are going to see quite a bit of strength gain and progress if you stick with it!

    1. Susanne avatar

      I hear you about the knees! I had noticed my knees going in all sorts of directions in deadlifts (with back squats I’m too busy to look at my knees!) but I really thought I had improved, before seeing these videos. Recording myself is such a great tool! You are spot on – it’s a reminder that we need to do these moves! Nobody ever became good at something without doing it…

  14. Jessie avatar

    I miss the good old days when Instagram was just photos, no reels! I do look at TikTok- but it feels different, as I’m choosing to look at it! Anyways…love this Bulgarian split squat challenge!

    Going to Ikea is always brave! The one we’ve been to outside of London was SOOO busy…and stressful.

    1. Susanne avatar

      I totally agree (although I feel stupid saying that while I make a reel every day, but I still agree)! I think platforms should keep doing what makes them good and makes them stand out.. nowadays all social platforms are a mish-mash of the same thing. After this challenge I’ll definitely go back to photos only!
      Hahaha, yes about IKEA! And on a Sunday…. just don’t do it, lol.

  15. Anne avatar

    Susanne, you are rocking it. I’m so impressed (and I know you’ve kept it up!). I don’t mind reels but oh, I wish they would not autoplay. Once they reinstated the mute button I was much happier. Unwanted audio is the worst…

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, I totally agree, I would be happier with reels too if they didn’t autoplay! Regarding the audio, since they started with reels and video ads, I basically NEVER have sound enabled on my phone (although, you can disable sound on reels in the IG app) because I mostly browse when sound is annoying, like on the bus, before sleeping, etc.

      And in the marketing course I’m doing, they recommend to always use overlay text on reels because most people don’t have sound on. Interesting… seems like something is wrong here.. video has its place but in my opinion, it should stay on platforms where it actually works well, such as YouTube. I probably shouldn’t say this while I make reels every day, but it’s still my opinon! After this challenge I’ll probably stop doing reels altogether.

      And yes, I’ve kept it up… hopefully I can keep it going even if I’m having some cold with sore throat at the moment.

Leave a comment and make my day

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *