You would be hard-pressed to find a more well-rounded, universally-applicable exercise than a Bulgarian Split Squat. It bridges just about every training goal; from hypertrophy to strength to mobility to functionality. It truly is what I would call a "Foundational Movement".
Yet, too many people aren't fully taking advantage of all of the potentially positive benefits of the BSS. To make this variation work for you rather than against you, it's crucial to understand the potential limitations that need to be overcome.
The biggies are:
1) General instability that accompanies unilateral work
2) Expanding from #1, difficulty in appropriate loading
3) Importance of set-up for efficacy
And it's that last point, in particular, that we want to focus on this week...
There are multiple points to focus on when getting set-up for the BSS, but foot placement, specifically what to actually do with your foot, seems to get overlooked in importance.
Do we pull our toes up and plant the ball of the foot into the box/bench? Maybe...but this severely limits the range of motion we can achieve and is pretty uncomfortable.
Do we plantarflex the ankle and rest on the top of our foot? Possibly...but I'm not trying to catch a cramp in my arch!
We do have another alternative…Placing our ankle on a rotating pad!
And here is how we're going to set that up:
1) Ditch the bench or box you're used to using!
2) Find a barbell or Smith machine and set the bar to about mid shin
3) Now place a hip thrust pad (or any other padded object) on the bar with the padded side facing up
4) Instead of having to flex or point your toes uncomfortably, now you can relax your foot while your ankle provides support!
When performing any movement with hypertrophy or strength as the primary goal, you never want to be limited by variables outside of muscular fatigue/failure. Having to end a set prematurely due to losing balance or a foot cramp completely undermines the purpose of the exercise to begin with!
Not every variation will be able to be salvaged via subtle manipulations, but for the Bulgarian Split Squat, it's ALL in the subtleties.