Performing the Bench Press with your Feet Up in the Air - Good or Bad?

Feet Up during Bench Press

The Bench Press is the King of Chest Exercises

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We've all seen some guys in the gym benching with their feet up in the air. Is there any benefit to doing this? Notice how you rarely see any of the big guys in your gym benching this way? More often than not, it's someone fairly new to benching. Of course, this isn't always the case. Many personal trainers teach people how to bench this way, thinking that it isolates the pecs more, since it takes your legs out of the movement. First of all - and this is my biggest beef with this suggestion - the bench press isn't meant to be an isolation movement. You want isolation? Go do some cable crossovers! The bench press is a compound movement, and compound movements are meant to be done heavy. Along with the squat and deadlift, the bench is part of "The Big Three." These are not isolation exercises. Using this suggested bench position, you'll lose some serious pressing power. What's more, you might run into some balance and stability issues.

While it's true that if you elevate your legs, you remove any potential help you might get from leg drive, this position does not isolate the pecs more. If you bench with your back flat against the bench (which is what happens when you elevate your legs), much of the work is transferred from your pecs to your front delts. Think about proper bench position. You unrack the weight, take a deep breath, pinch your shoulder blades together, and drive your upper back into the bench. Now your chest is sitting nice and high, the tension is on your pecs, and you're positioned to move some big weight. The other benefit to this position is that it engages your lats as well. The result? More benching power! As has been said, the bench press is a compound movement. It's not meant for light weights. The more tension you can place on a muscle, the more muscle growth you're going to stimulate. So what's the take-home message? Keep your feet on the floor!

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