January 12

Reader Question: How To Bench Properly


Ryan recently asked me the following question about
bench press form:

“I have always propped my feet on the leg machine
on the end of the bench when I bench press. I have
recently found out I’m supposed to put them on the
floor. When I do it like this it makes my lower back
hurt. Will I get used to it or should I not put my feet
on the floor?”

Short answer is that your feet should be on the floor.

Your heels will provide a platform that allows your
legs to be involved in the movement.

You arch your back, sticking your chest up in the air
as far as possible without your butt coming off the

This allows for the shortest possible bar path.

I know it sounds like cheating, but it’s not and
here’s why:

Our goal is to get as strong as possible.

The way to do this is with compound exercises.

Squat, deadlift, press, bench press.

Of course all these exercises hit particular muscle
groups more than the others, but involve others
to maximize muscle growth.

The biggest way people cheat on the bench is by
bouncing the bar off their chest.

Properly recruiting other muscle groups to perform
controlled reps is not cheating.

While Ryan puts his feet up on the bench due to
back pain, lots of people do this because they
want to isolate the pecs.

Our goal is to build muscle as the foundation.

Fine tuning can be saved for later, if ever.

Now, where back pain is concerned (and remember
I’m not a medical professional), it really depends
on the cause.

If it’s injury related, you really need advice from someone
that can see the movement.

But if it’s just a flexibility issue, or a height issue, then you
can work on it.

Start by putting something on the ground that allows you
to get your feet flat in a comfortable position.

A block of wood, or if you’re in a gym, the platforms
from step aerobic… um… steps.

These things.

So I hope that helps some, and if you have more questions
don’t hesitate to reach out.

Or ask in the Facebook Group.

Mattie Fuller


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