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At 51 Years Old, Actor Mark Wahlberg Uses Bulgarian Split Squats to Stay in Fighting Shape


Mark Wahlberg takes the phrase “rise and grind” seriously. Like, very seriously. The 51-year-old actor and entertainer recently hit up social media to showcase his dedication to the iron game (and some seriously impressive leg strength) by posting a video of some early-morning Bulgarian split squats.

In 2013, Wahlberg starred in the deeply sardonic film Pain & Gain (alongside Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson), in which he portrayed a success-obsessed bodybuilder. Ten years later and at 51 years old, Wahlberg seems to be drawing inspiration from his character’s out-of-this-world work ethic: 


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A post shared by Mark Wahlberg (@markwahlberg)

[Related: Michael B. Jordan’s “Creed III” Workout and Diet, From Trainer Corey Calliet]

“4am clubLet’s go!” Wahlberg announced to his 20-million-plus followers on social media as he bangs out reps of single-legged squats while holding a 65-pound dumbbell. The rapper-turned-actor-turned-fitness-icon isn’t shy about showing off his shredded physique online, nor is he coy about which exercises he relies on to keep him in fighting shape.

Should You Do Bulgarian Split Squats?

Wahlberg has long been known as an actor who walks the walk. From his early days as an underwear model to bulking up bigtime for his acclaimed roles in Pain & Gain and The Fighter (2008), Wahlberg isn’t one to take his career — or the physique he brings to the silver screen — lightly. 

Part of that comes down to, of course, looking the part. Single-leg lifts like the Bulgarian split squat may look like a funky bunch of exercises, but they’re extremely potent. When performed properly, the Bulgarian split squat can:  

Build muscle in your quadriceps, glutes, and abdominals. (1)
Strengthen your core and develop lower-body muscular power. (2)
Stabilize your joints and improve your bodily coordination. (3)

What’s more, you don’t even need use weights to benefit from the split squat (though, as you can see, it certainly helps). All you need is something to rest your foot on and a bit of patience; split squats are exactly as challenging as they look, even for a pro like Wahlberg.

How to Do the Bulgarian Split Squat

Here’s how to perform an Instagram-worthy Bulgarian split squat from start to finish. You can load this movement up by holding dumbbells in your hands or a barbell on your back to double-down on the muscle and strength gains, but you should probably start with just your body weight.

If you prefer to try this one at home, you’ll need a flat and stable surface to plant your non-working leg on. Wahlberg uses the shin pad of a leg curl machine for his Bulgarians, but a chair cushion or the armrest of a couch will do just fine.

Step 1 — Nail Your Setup

Start with your dominant-side leg on the floor. Lift your non-working leg and rest it gently on a knee-height surface two to three feet behind you. Your working leg should be locked out and bearing almost all of your body weight. Take a breath in and brace your core

Coach’s Tip: You can improve your balance by holding your arms out to the sides if needed.

Step 2 — Sit Back and Down

Once you’ve stabilized yourself, it’s time to start squatting. Unlock your knee and hip joints simultaneously and slowly sit back and down into the squat. Allow your knee to move freely forward over your toes and your pelvis to sink down below your kneecap.

Coach’s Tip: Leaning forward slightly can help you maintain your balance as you squat.

Step 3 — Push, Hard

After you’ve descended as low as you comfortably can, reverse the motion. Push hard into the floor with your planted leg and return to a standing position. You should feel your quadriceps and glutes contract strongly to help you stand up. 

Coach’s Tip: Avoid pushing against the supportive surface your non-working leg rests on. Use only your working leg to complete the split squat.

Making His Mark

Wahlberg’s dedication to health and fitness is both commendable and impressive. Not only does he continue to make weight training a centerpiece of his lifestyle, but Wahlberg also operates his own nutritional supplement company, Performance Inspired Nutrition. 

Getting up early and starting your day with a workout is one of the best ways to build a sustainable habit and integrate physical activity into your daily life. That said, you don’t have to follow in Wahlberg’s footsteps and work out at 4 a.m. if you don’t want to.

However, you should probably take a page out of his playbook and give the Bulgarian split squat a go for yourself. It’s one of the most grueling — and rewarding — leg exercises out there. Take one look at Wahlberg and you can see that the proof is in the pudding.


Aguilera-Castells, J., Buscà, B., Morales, J., Solana-Tramunt, M., Fort-Vanmeerhaeghe, A., Rey-Abella, F., Bantulà, J., & Peña, J. (2019). Muscle activity of Bulgarian squat. Effects of additional vibration, suspension and unstable surface. PloS one, 14(8), e0221710. 
Bogdanis, G. C., Tsoukos, A., Kaloheri, O., Terzis, G., Veligekas, P., & Brown, L. E. (2019). Comparison Between Unilateral and Bilateral Plyometric Training on Single- and Double-Leg Jumping Performance and Strength. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 33(3), 633–640. 
Appleby, B. B., Cormack, S. J., & Newton, R. U. (2019). Specificity and Transfer of Lower-Body Strength: Influence of Bilateral or Unilateral Lower-Body Resistance Training. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 33(2), 318–326. 

Featured Image: @markwahlberg on Instagram

The post At 51 Years Old, Actor Mark Wahlberg Uses Bulgarian Split Squats to Stay in Fighting Shape appeared first on BarBend.

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